The Product Naming Cartoon (Or – How To Name A Product In Six Panels)

Yes, as a matter of fact there is one.

It was written by Tom Fishburne and you can find it here.

Sadly the loop it suggests is less than comic for most people who undertake naming.  It’s very much like the truth.

Here’s the flow he outlines:

  1. Brainstorm
  2. Ideate
  3. Sort
  4. Lobby
  5. Compromise
  6. Check Trademark
  7. Repeat

If this looks familiar to you then you need to consider another approach. 

How about:

  1. Agree on name goals and importance of each
  2. Agree on brand positioning
  3. Confirm brand positioning against reality and tweak as necessary
  4. Brainstorm
  5. Expand concepts
  6. Score concepts against goals and positioning (including trademark check)
  7. Create mock-up identities for the top candidates
  8. Select name that best meets the measurement criteria set at the start.

It’s a rough approximation of what Stokefire uses in naming products… and in more than one hundred uses we’ve never had to repeat the process due to lobbying, compromise, or trademark issues. 

There is no lobbying because our system is analytically based.  The score is the ultimate tie-breaker.  Sure, some clients don’t pick the best scoring name, but they do select ones that are near the top of the list. 

Naming ain’t easy.  (Those who say it is likely aren’t doing the type of research that enables companies and products to develop deep and powerful brands.) We are often perplexed by the many people (amateurs and pros alike) who seem to think that by encouraging a democratic process from start to finish the process will be made easier or the name stronger.  It doesn’t work that way.

If you want mass participation then include that in the early stages of establishing brand positioning and the goals for the name – even brainstorming can benefit from extra input.  It ends there.  The actual selection should be as tight a group as possible.  If a democratic process – such as a vote – is required for a new name to be put in place then the preliminary selection should be made in advance, with the vote being one of two things – Either “YES” or “NO”.

We advise that the materials be developed in support of the vote so that voters can understand the strengths of the name.  We also suggest that the full identity be developed so that the potential can be seen visually. 

That said – if you really want to come to a compromise you can go right ahead.  There’s a reason why most names look an awful lot alike – and why company and product names follow trends.  Compromise encourages safety rather than risk, and safety means doing something that has been done before. 

Welcome to Dullsville, Population Infinity Plus You.

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