Naming Your Company: It’s Not Monkey Business
“Why don’t we just call it ‘Pink Monkey Butt’?”
I am not at liberty to reveal if this was actually said in a confidential branding meeting with a client, but let’s just say that when it comes to naming your company, things can get a little…um…bananas.
Recently at Findsome & Winmore, my fellow principals and I became our own client in the hairy process of renaming our agency. I was reminded again of something I’ve experienced my whole career: naming is hard. When I named my two children, there was a book of a million names. That was easy. Renaming our 18-year-old digital agency. That was tough.
Most normal people think naming a business is a brainstorming session followed by a logo design. Well, marketing people (like myself) are typically not normal; hence we have a unique perspective about naming. It’s a detailed process riddled with research and do-overs, plus dozens of considerations before you even get to reject your first idea.
If you’ve read the story about Steve Jobs naming Apple (he was a fruitarian at the time and couldn’t come up with anything he liked better), then you might think naming comes from a random act, like visiting an orchard or being inspired by your daily diet.
Nancy Friedman, a 20-year veteran of naming and self-proclaimed “chief wordworker”, calls the process “journalistic”. I agree with her; naming development includes endless questions like a reporter searching for the scoop. For example,
- Is it ownable? (Fewer than 10% will be available for trademarking.)
- Does it fit your audience/industry? Do you want it to?
- Will it stand the test of time?
- Is the domain available?
- Is it easy to say? Easy to spell?
- Does it translate internationally?
- It is too long? Too short?
- Does it sound trendy? Easy to remember?
- Perhaps most importantly, what do you want the name to convey?
Our name was WebSolvers. It conveyed what we did for many years, but we evolved into far more than building websites. The fact is that our name was hindering our ability to grow and we needed to convey something new. It is more difficult than ever to be different (it’s a jungle out there!) and our passion to rename was driven by our collective commitment to be unique without being ridiculous. We humbly believe we accomplished this gorilla-sized goal (watch our video and tell us your opinion).
So, what’s in a name? To me, it’s one of the most important decisions a company can make. It takes strategy, research, process, creativity and guts.
Translation: It’s not monkey business.