This article is a summarized version of the original written by Paola Norambuena, who is Senior Director, Head of Verbal Identity for Interbrand. The article appears on the Interband website here :

Brand naming is one of the service @asidebrands provides. Two of the projects that use brand names developed by us are Ristre [ a watch brand for a line of watches under the parent Timemakers brand ] and Bitfang [ a company providing computer peripherals ]. Apart from the challenges of a brand naming engagement in itself, managing client-side expectations without getting a chance to put forth what brand naming entails, makes it doubly tough to deliver a brand name that not only performs well but also satisfies the client’s personal preferences. The following summary from the article should bring some perspective to the process of brand naming.

When it comes to brands, the name is one of the most important elements of its proposition. A brand is : first act of public branding, tone for a product, service, or company; primary handle for a brand; recall and recognition device; communicates desired attributes or specific benefits; valuable asset and intellectual property.


1. Treating naming as an afterthought
Creative names are only the beginning of the journey, with many legal and linguistic hurdles that follow—hurdles that often mean the name you thought was great is not available or even that it’s inappropriate. Start early.

2. Forgetting that naming is as strategic as it is creative
Companies often don’t spend enough time defining—and agreeing on—the strategic role of a name. A great name is one that clearly communicates the positioning and personality of the brand. Names help form emotional connections with customers.

3. Underestimating the importance of a good creative brief
The brief forces you to answer very specific questions for your audience—the creatives who’ll use it. It crystallizes the white space in the competitive landscape, personality, tonality, word types, constructs, and areas to avoid.

4. Confusing the need for information with the need for differentiation
Think of names like The Container Store or Bed Bath & Beyond versus names like Target or IKEA. Descriptive names aren’t always the answer, particularly because they can be limiting as your brand promise evolves.

5. Overlooking complex trademark issues
There are over 2.5 million active trademarks in the U.S. alone, and over 13 million globally. And then there’s over 108 million URLs registered globally. Don’t leave legal to the end.

6. Ignoring global implications
Make sure your name says only what you intend it to say.

7. Choosing names subjectively
Choose based on clear criteria for success and not just based on personal preference. Use research.

8. Thinking everything needs a name
Too many names and brands in a portfolio often add to customer confusion—as opposed to signaling expansion or innovation—and can work to dilute your main brand. Determine the ideal relationship between your main brand and any new sub-brands, line extensions, and flankers.

9. Keeping names that are no longer relevant
The more we use a name, the more it becomes the right name. But existing names may not be able to stretch with the offering or may not have the right fit and relevance to meet longer-term business objectives.

10. Ending the verbal identity process at a name
A brand is so much more than just its name. Names are only one part of your brand’s identity. Create a distinct language for your brand by focusing on voice and messaging, and make sure you train all your brand’s authors to use it. It impacts advertising campaigns as much as job postings, and packaging as much as digital—and everything in between.


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