Business Naming Clients Can Be Capricious, And That’s Okay

As the owner of a naming company, I must confess that I don’t always hit home runs.

It’s not that I don’t try. It’s just that everyone doesn’t have the same idea of what a perfect name is. Several of my clients are in that category.

Comments that aren't helpful in selecting a business name
Comments that aren't helpful in selecting a business name

Sometimes I will recommend a business name I believe to be a winning name but the client has other ideas. Or to be more accurate, they don’t have any ideas that provide constructive direction. They are just uncomfortable with the candidates I’ve presented.

This happens even though in most cases we have agreed upon naming goals and criteria before I’ve generated naming candidates. I do that with a document called a naming brief.

Most often, I find that clients are uncomfortable with the out-of-the-box uniqueness of a coined word name. But there have been instances when name candidates of any construction just won’t suit them. And usually they find no specific objection. They just don’t feel comfortable with the candidates presented.

Today I attempt to get in sync through the use of a couple of additional questions in the naming brief. (The naming brief is a document I ask my clients to fill out of me. It requires the client think about the purpose and goals for the name, along with other relevant information.) At the end of this document I now ask that the client provide me with five names of other companies that they like and would feel comfortable with. I also ask that they give me business names of five companies they do not like. Also I ask them to divulge any taboos or sacred cows concerning their new name.

This will not eliminate all of the problems in communication between us. But I have found many more name candidates are looked upon with favor.

Many will think it odd that I am not as adamant as some consultants are about their recommendations. But I have found that a company’s name, at least for the company’s CEO, is a very personal, ego driven decision. There is no use trying to sell a client on a particular name if he or she does not enthuse about it.

Using this method has created many more situations where my first recommendation is accepted with enthusiasm.

I adhere to the proposition that the client is right, particularly if it is his company that is being named. I just provide him or her the best options I can invent.

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4 thoughts on “Business Naming Clients Can Be Capricious, And That’s Okay

  1. Martin:

    Great article. I participate in a number of online business forums and come across soon-to-be-entrepreneurs that have questions regarding a proper name for their new venture.

    I would be interested to know how many of your clients prefer names that quickly identify what their business is about versus those that may pick a name that has no apparent connection.

    I will have to pass along those in the forum to you to see if you can help them out.

  2. Douglas:

    Especially when dealing with local businesses, I find entrepreneurs believe a descriptive name is not only desirable, but necessary. I can often convince them otherwise by preparing a list of competitive businesses and asking them to distinguish one from another.

    I’d say you’ll find most business owners want a serious, descriptive name. They should be discouraged.


  3. Hi, I just discovered your site. I create business logos for horse related businesses and sometimes people contact me and ask advice about naming their new business, group, or product.

    I have just added a link to this site in my information email that I send out to people asking about my logo service. I hope they will visit help here and find out that naming their new business with a long five word or initial name is not the best way to get their business off the ground.

  4. Hey, Joni…
    Thanks for your comment.
    You know that thoroughbreds are very often christened with unique names. If horse-related businesses would look to name their businesses with the same care and creativity, I believe they’d be on their ways to stronger brands.

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