What’s in a Name?

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Written By Jessica Vollrath

Often we have the challenge – and the opportunity – to name something.  An unborn child, a new car, a pet or a recreational sports team.  In the marketing industry, we have numerous naming opportunities – a client’s blog, an ongoing e-newsletter, a theme for an annual report, an event, an HR video or simply headlines in a client’s guest article.  You might think it’s easy to think of a name – but what you don’t realize is the impact that name can have.  That name will become a brand.  And as a brand, it will resonate with customers and live not only on a page, but in people’s minds.  Therefore, before just throwing out any old name –it’s important to consider a few helpful tips to make sure that name has what it takes to become an effective brand.

Lately at VA, we have been busy creatively thinking of names for various projects.  When I am brainstorming different names, I think of the following:

  • What is the communication objective?  What purpose does it serve?  If it is a serious piece, such as an annual report, you want to develop a name that represents shareholder value, performance and a message for the future.  If you are naming a new blog from the CEO, you have more flexibility to be creative and out-of-the-box to reflect the CEO’s personality.
  •  Who is the target audience?  For example, if you are naming a monthly e-newsletter from the CEO, the purpose is to inform his/her associates about company news, fun facts, growth initiatives and HR-related matters.  For this product, a name should represent the personality of the CEO while still aligning with the company’s communication objectives.  The name can be creative and welcoming while still sharing important information.
  •  What is the context of the product?  Will this name live forever on a website or will it be changed every month, or year?  If you know this name will live for a longer period of time, you need to research potential trademark infringement, how it fits with the overall marketing strategy and objectives and how it fits with other communication vehicles under the same marketing umbrella.  If it is a name that could be changed every month, you need to be more general with the name – research ways it can still be changed while communicating the same message. 
  •  Appropriateness.  If you are naming a communication piece from the CEO, there’s a fine line between being creative and being appropriate.  You want the name to represent the CEO while also catering to associates in a suitable manner.  If you are creating headlines for a new website that is fun, sexy and intriguing – you have the ability to be dangerous but keep your ideas in line with the product – in other words, don’t push it.
  •  Have some fun.  Sometimes I am the most creative while driving in my car (even though I should be paying attention to the road) or on a long walk.  For my fellow colleagues in the communications industry, we all know creativity takes time.  If you think of the perfect name in five minutes – that is great, but most of us know it takes some deep thinking and lots of brainstorming.  This can also be fun – sometimes the names you least expect to work will come together to form your brand.

                In closing, I have to admit, naming can be a challenge.  It is a lot easier said than done.  I hope  some of these tips will help you with your naming duty.  Remember – your name will live on, so make sure it has the power to flourish and not be forgotten.


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