What's in a name?
Even if you’re not a Shakespeare fan, you’ve probably heard the line from Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose would by any other name smell as sweet.” True as far as it goes, but there’s a lot more to it. A rose by any other name might look the same, feel the same, smell the same … but people may well feel and act differently because of the name, not the reality. Just ask any Capulet how they feel about the Montagues.
Names do have the potential to influence perceptions, thanks to a wide variety of factors ranging from word associations and cultural preconceptions to phonetic qualities and even simple aesthetics. Different names aren’t just different; they’re subjectively better or worse.
For example, Cary Grant was born Archibald Leach — would his career have followed the same trajectory under either name? We may never know, but we can say for certain that the toothfish was an undesirable, ugly, oily, arctic bottom-dweller until restaurants started calling it Chilean Sea Bass — now it’s fifty dollars a pound. Google was nearly named BackRub — somehow the phrase “Let me BackRub that for you” just doesn’t seem as compelling.
It has been our great privilege to help many of our trusted clients define themselves and/or their products and services with just the right brand name. Over the years, we’ve developed an approach that’s proven effective time after time.
We begin by thoroughly exploring the subject. We organize discovery sessions to gather information and advance our understanding. We identify key attributes that describe and define the brand-to-be, and use these to suggest broad themes that might point to a meaningful, memorable name. Our creative teams consider and discard thousands of possibilities in the search for just a few distinctive options that fit each theme. We run general trademark and Internet searches to ensure validity before testing the names against the client’s sensibilities — sometimes the right choice stands out immediately, sometimes we have to repeat the exercise several times before arriving at the solution.
The name is just the beginning, the foundation on which we can build an entire brand, covering the logo, color palette, typography, brand attributes and positioning statement, tone and voice, document templates, and so forth. These form the basis for corporate stationery, websites, sales collateral, and much, much more.
What’s in a name? Character and personality. History and promise. Success or failure. What do you want it to be?