Art of Naming: Setting Your Naming Process up for Success—The Diamond in the Rough
Research Director, Labbrand New York
At Labbrand, naming is considered a combination of art and science. If name creation is the art, the process of applying and mixing paint on a blank canvas in search of a perfect Mona Lisa; then name selection would represent the scientific dimension.
The methodical actions for selection are executed with intent to ensure the naming works, not just for the brand attributes and positioning, but also for its key stakeholders – i.e. customers, employees, investors, etc.
Selection is not just a final step in the naming process, the ethos for the selection is to be infused into the entire naming process to best position the team and the project for success. The rationale behind the selection is the guiding principle and is to never be reverse engineered.
In this article, we present our 4 Facets framework, a simple yet effective tool to come to a practical and creative translation of the brand that enriches the overall process from the start by broadening the brand idea through reflecting on each facet rather than narrowing it down.
Convergence on the "Reason to be": Form 4 Facets to Shape Your Diamond
Intent and prioritization are the two factors that drive the success of the naming process as a whole and the selection process in specific. Often times, at the start of the naming – there is a lot of excitement that comes with the adrenaline rush of creating something new; so we hear a lot of "it’s a clean slate", "there are really no boundaries" – but these are red flags, as this reflects that there is ambiguity around the key proposition or the ‘reason to be’ of the brand.
The 4 Facet framework helps branding teams navigate these pitfalls.
The strength of the 4 Facet framework is that through an engaging journey the brand teams are able to distill the brand into a canvas of 4 facets, which become the guiding beacon through the naming proliferation stage and eventually forms the guard rails during the selection process.
4 Facets of the Brand – a Framework
Proliferation of Themes & Territories: Leverage Collective Efforts to Shape Your Diamond
A co-creation exercise is a powerful tool to leverage during the naming process as it greatly helps the selection step, as it:
- Helps channel the key stakeholders’ priorities and sentiments into the naming process, by expanding on naming territories and themes that strike a chord
- Through the process, the team is able to empathize with the naming journey – understand the challenges and restrictions
This ensures that at the point of selection the team is already aware of the goals, journey and priorities, which brings greater clarity and cohesion at the selection stage.
Prioritize & Select: Use Tools to Polish Your Diamond
Often the brand team expects to have an experience akin to "love at first sight" with a name, which hardly ever happens and realistically is not the goal either – this is not a beauty pageant to decide based on subjective appeal. The selection process one is deliberate and purposeful, aimed at finding a name that works across 3 key parameters:
- Right vessel for the brand story (i.e. brand’s reason to be)
- Relevant & persuasive for the desired consumer of today and tomorrow
There are a range of tools that can be leveraged to find the diamond in the rough, these tools help build consensus in an objective and equitable manner – where everyone in the room has the opportunity to weigh in with their thinking without feeling obligated to agree. Some key tools that Labbrand prioritizes are:
- Rubric: An assessment tool that defines clearly what the key goals are for the names, allowing the key stakeholders to evaluate the name across the different dimensions. This is a powerful tool to narrow down the top names (from a larger subset of 8-10), as it keeps the process transparent, objective and verifiable.
- Workshop sessions with key stakeholders: Names are meant to be future-proof (not completely constrained by the current market reality) and we find that involving the key stakeholders in a more open discussion moderated by an external facilitator allows us to analyze the names beyond just the pros & cons.
- Bet on the name: Gamify the process by allowing the core team to bet on their top runners by having them allocate their chips across the names – this allows us to see not just the top names but also assess how much better do they fare in comparison to the other names
- Define the brand: have the core team define the brand using the name as inspiration across the 4 facets. This will enable the team to assess the names on their ability to deliver on the vision
- Quantitative research to evaluate finalist names that are more homogenous (represent a similar territory/ theme)
- Qualitative research to explore names that are more heterogenous in nature in terms of territories and naming convention (descriptive vs. evocative).
The journey for each name is unique and nuanced and the idea is not to make it an assembly line approach. The 4 facets framework kicks off the process and guides the project team through a streamlined process. From the initial convergence of reasoning, to the proliferation of themes and territories, and the final prioritization and selection of the name.
The process ensures that the brand broadens the brand idea and is able to not only land on a diamond, but also cut and polish it to make it shine bright amongst the name options.