BLOG: Tamara's Tech Marketing Tips

February 27, 2012

Leading a Naming Brainstorm

In my last post, I talked about some things to think about before trying to come up with a new company or product name.  In this post, I’ll lay out some brainstorming ice-breakers and discussion starters, as well as how to test your new name.

Things to Consider

Before starting the brainstorm, arm yourselves with a good thesaurus and an Internet connection because you will want to consider:

  • Noun forms and meanings
  • Verb forms and meanings
  • Etymology — earlier forms of words
  • Morphemes — word parts
  • Idioms — common phrases
  • Synonyms
  • Greek & Latin
  • Characters
  • Mythology
  • Folklore
  • Cultural references
  • Literary references
  • Plants
  • Gemstones/Minerals
  • Animals
  • Internet MEMEs

Different Brainstorming Exercises

You can either break up into groups and assign various exercises or just work through these as a group.  Assign a time limit to each exercise so that you don’t get bogged down in any one category.  Remember to eliminate those that don’t match your naming criteria.

  1. Just Say It  — get right to the point and say what you do (Brown n Serve Rolls, U-Haul truck…)
  2. Just Imply It – suggestive words that call to mind by logic or association (Campfire Marshmallows, Holiday Inn, Acutrim…)
  3. Suggest Expertise / Preemptive / Leadership — incorporate an authority figure or use words like best, first… (Mr. Coffee, Burger King, Best Buy…)
  4. Suggest results / benefits — e.g. save, reduce, increase
  5. Words that describe the buyer — e.g. demanding, cautious…
  6. What is the buyer trying to get rid of — e.g. confusion, costs, risks…
  7. Morphemes / Combination names — names made up of one or more words and/or word parts with partial or complete meaning retained, limit to 2-3 syllables (e.g. Facebook, Microsoft, WordPress…)
  8. Homophones — e.g. Higher / Hire
  9. Visual Imagery — leaves a visual image of what the product does, its benefits, or the user
  10. Evoke Emotion — words that evoke strong feelings or give an emotional appeal (e.g. Victoria’s Secret, Guiltless Gourmet…)
  11. Arbitrary names — names that have no specific meaning, open brainstorm, can make up words
  12. Keyword Research tool — research related words or search terms to words you like from the exercises above
  13. Altering suggestive words to make them unique — e.g. Compaq
  14. Oxymorons — e.g. Cold Fusion
  15. Alliteration — e.g. Intel Inside
  16. Rhyme — e.g. Shake n Bake
  17. Onomatopoeia — words that imitate sounds (e.g. Sizzler Steakhouse…)
  18. Stylized Spelling — e.g. KwikMart

Once you’ve completed these exercises you need to narrow it down.  Get each committee member to select their top five names using tally marks on a white board with the names on it.  Use the highest overall ranking results to create a list of names to test.

Testing Your Names

  1. Does it meet the criteria you agree upon?
  2. How long is it?
  3. Say it out loud — is it well understood? Can the listener guess the spelling?
  4. Say it over the phone — is it understood? Can the listener guess the spelling?
  5. Ask strangers to pronounce it.  Did they get it right?
  6. Look it up in the dictionary — what does it mean?
  7. Does it have a meaning in other languages in countries where you do business?
  8. How will it be shortened? Are those variations acceptable?
  9. Ask people in the real world what emotions it evokes, what they might guess the company does, and what they infer based on the name.
  10. Do a Google search on the name, what comes up?
  11. Is the domain available?
  12. Are social media profiles available? (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube…)

Selecting a Name

Based upon your test results, narrow the list down to your top five.  Get feedback from your employees, board, and customers, then make your final selection.

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