Entries Tagged as 'Name Evaluation'

When Naming Companies, Watch for Foreign Faux Pas.

Business naming can be a hazardous activity.

There are hundreds of examples of names that were screened and approved, only to find after investing in branding the name that to contain objectionable translations or obscure meanings that are derogatory. Chevy’s Nova in Brazil means impotent Another name, I forget which one, turned out to be related to a fifteenth-century demon who ravaged women.

Naming IssueSo to help namers alleviate (not eradicate, just make the odds better) the problem, A service called www.Globalnaming.com was formed in 2010. Here you can enter a name candidate and the software will search it’s several databases of foreign slang and “dirty” words, thesauruses and dictionaries, and then indicate possible problems.

Very easy to navigate and to use. The deliverable is a pdf report.

One caveat: the name creation function on the site leaves much to be desired. In fact, I found it very limited and limiting.

Business Naming Practiced By America’s Fastest Growing Companies: the INC 500

Analyzing INC 500 business naming practicesEvery year I analyze the company naming practices of the fast growing private companies listed in the annual INC 500 issue of INC™ Magazine. Then I compare the business naming trends over time – for the past 12 years in fact – 1998 through 2009. This is a 6,000 name universe, less those that show up on the list for multiple years.

Here are a few highlights:

Names incorporating coined words increased 57-percent over the 12-year period, from 23-percent of all names in 1998 to 35-percent in 2009. Coined word names represent 30-percent of all names in the study.

Combined-word names (PowerLight, Staffworks) grew at a faster rate than other coined-word names, going from 27-percent of coined-word names in 1998 to 45-percent in 2009. It was the second most popular category behind Suggestive names in 2009.

Descriptive names decreased from 18-percent in 1998 to 14-percent in 2009. They were bested by Suggestive names in four of the past five years. Even so, they represent the most names over the 12 years.

One-word names increased by 70-percent over the twelve-year span. The number three-word-and-more names declined by 40-percent.

All-in-all, fast growing companies seem to be embracing better naming methods. Particularly the last two factoids are encouraging. Descriptive names, by and large, are indistinctive, and usually result in longer names – usually three-word names. And three-letter names will usually turn into impersonal, undifferentiating sets of initials that are hard to remember even if you might want to remember them.

Now I’m not suggesting that the companies on the INC 500 list got there because they had great names. A great many got there in spite of poor names -Utility Integration Solutions, Integrated Mortgage Solutions, SDV Solutions readily come to mind. So perhaps a company name is not a major ingredient in corporate growth, but adding a great business name to the mix sure doesn’t hurt.

Name Generators for Naming Ideas

Name generators are special databases attached to software that allow you to combine the words that are stored in those databases to form new words, aka names. There are many, many such web sites available.

Several of the naming generators available at Seventh Sanctum

Several of the naming generators available at Seventh Sanctum

A quick and easy way to find and use name generators is a special site all about name generators. It’s called Seventh Sanctum and it’s an authority site and directory for name generators of all types, both those they’ve created and scores of others. Another great thing: it’s free to use.

If you’ve been following this blog at all – and thank you if you have been – you know I advocate generating long name candidate lists, lists that have been generated from a variety of sources. Name generators help you populate those lists, and often times surprise you with real gems.

Not all of the name generators listed at Seventh Sanctum are appropriate for brand names – some are for naming cats, rock bands and Star War aliases. But they’re so simple to use that you won’t waste much time seeing if three or four of them might be of some help. Quality of results vary – some just generate random strings of letters. But there are some surprisingly fruitful ones.

Explore, even the ones you’d normally shun. You just never know when or where the “right” name will pop up.

Seventh Sanctum even provides directions for constructing your own generators. So if you have collected different types of words for use in naming like I have, you might be interested in making them databases you can call up and mix and match with other data-based word collections.

Make Business Name Evaluation Impartial

Don’t let name evaluation become a personal thing.

This is especially critical if you are wearing two hats – the name creator and the name evaluator.

Evaluating name candidates for educational publisher

Evaluating name candidates for educational publisher

What happens is that one or two of the names you’ve conceived are REALLY creative. You get an “aha” moment when you’re struck by an inspired thought. Every naming creator has those moments and those great, unique name possibilities.

There’s a good chance that part of its appeal is that it’s relevant and fits your vision and value standards. That is, it’s both appropriate and powerful. That’s why the “aha”.

But almost as often the candidate is a great combination of word parts that flow together, but are off target for the business or product you’re naming. It’s just that you can’t see it.

That’s why evaluation should not be left to the creator.

A second, uninvolved person should be consulted – a person steeped in the branding process as well as familiar with your business plan and brand platform. This is probably not your spouse.

My suggestion is to cut your initial list to twenty or so candidates. Then seek a consultant, or perhaps a copywriter with branding experience, to review your brand platform (Which should, incidentally, include the criteria you initially set up for your new name.), your business plan and your name short-list. Don’t tell him/her about your favorites.

Then let your consultant pick the best ten candidates and rank them in order of preference. Also ask him/her to write an evaluation of each. You are now ready to check out those candidates for availability.

If your favorite isn’t among the chosen, you can certainly ask why, but rely on your evaluator’s choices. Don’t let your ego govern you new business name

It is also possible to conduct an on-line survey of the top four name candidates if you can identify – or the survey source can identify – a large enough sample of persons meeting your target market profile. I’ll cover name evaluation surveys in a future post.

15 Criteria for Creating Domain Names

Domain naming is very similar to business naming.

This is particularly true if your business is primarily an Internet-based business

Judging Domain Name Candidates Doesn't Need a Panel, Only Predetermined Criteria

Judging Domain Name Candidates

Yet there are subtleties that should be pointed out. That is why I’ve created this list of criteria for naming domains. For any particular business you may wish to weight several of these items more heavily than others. It is up to you to determine the importance of each based on your naming brief.

In case you haven’t been a regular reader of this blog, you should know that I am an advocate of the naming brief, a document that sets the direction and relevancy of name candidates. Mostly, the content of the naming brief comes from your business plan and identifies market segments; competitors; your business model; your internal values, mission, and vision. It may also give guidance to the tone and style of your website and other branding elements.

Here are the criteria in no particular order

1. Can the domain name also be your enterprise name?
2. Does the domain name contain your major keyword?
3. Is it available as a “.com” name?
4. Is the domain name the same as someone else’s enterprise name?
5. Is it available for other domain categories besides “.com”?
6. Does it use tricks in order to be available as a “.com”?
7. Is it short?
8. Is it memorable?
9. Is it similar to competitive domain names?
10. Is the name representative of the site and the business
11. Does it flow naturally?
12. Can it be trademarked?
13. Does it translate well globally?
14. Has it been owned previously?
15. If someone else owns it, can it be purchased from them?

Just a short note about the sixth criterion: if you must use hyphens within the domain name or insert words such as “online” or “now” or “blog”, you are creating a name that will be difficult for most people to remember and or to type.

As I said before, you can weight each of these attributes, or even ignore one or two if they are not relevant to the business

Hope this post will be of value.

Business Naming Criteria May Depend Upon Situation

Rather than adopt generic company naming criteria, I think you should look at your corporate name within the context of your industry and the markets you serve. And look at the name candidates with the eyes of your major stakeholders.

I believe you should be naming your business with their needs and their reference points in mind, not for your own ego satisfaction.

Out of a well-constructed brand platform come your naming criteria

Out of a well-constructed brand platform come your naming criteria

And so, like all the branding elements you will develop, the name should come from a well-thought-out branding platform. That document, usually derived from a comprehensive business plan, will address corporate mission, vision and core values; your business model and strengths, industry conventions, standards and trends, competitive activity and positioning, market conventions and expectations, and your distinctiveness within the competitive arena.

From this document you should extract the criteria for evaluating name candidates.

With that said, there are several characteristics that will probably be common to any good name. These things can form the foundation of your evaluation. They include:

Uniqueness
Memorability
Relevance
Conciseness
Pronouncibility
Longevity

In addition to those, the following might be major criteria depending upon how and where you’ll be doing business.

Cross-cultural acceptance
Connote a benefit or value
Is pleasant and positive
Reflects the company vision
Contains you core message

And other considerations might crop up in any particular situation.

One more admonition: remember that business naming is a strategic activity.

Hopefully, the name will come to represent all that’s good about your organization. It will be emblematic of your endeavors. So think of how the name you select will “wear” over time. Place the name candidates within your vision statement and test how they might resonate over time. As the company acquires a reputation and a position in the marketplace, visualize how the names might symbolize and bolster your desired position.

Brand Naming Controversies Can Be Stimulating

I ran across another blog that presented some advice on business naming.

As usual, everyone has their own set of opinions concerning effective company naming, and Kathy of Virtual Impax had a couple of deeply felt feelings about her company’s name and about naming companies in general.

First, her list of naming criteria

1. A great small business name tells what you do.
2. A great small business name communicates your business’ unique place in the universe.
3. A great small business name uses words that people can easily spell.
4. A great small business name uses words that people are using to search for solutions to the GDP (not Gross Domestic Product but rather Goals, Desires and Problems).

I can somewhat agree with the last two and wholeheartedly agree with the second, but as I commented on her blog about number 1: “However, there is one piece of advice you’ve provided that I disagree with. That’s having your name describe your business. Inevitably that leads to confusion because it can easily be mentally transferred to another company with a similar name. In addition, descriptive names are inevitably long, usually three-words, so names get reduced to three-initials that have no personality or relevance.” I forgot to add that descriptive names are usually generic, thus hard to trademark”

I then suggested that: “I want my clients to have names that differentiate them from their competitors – names that are memorable as well as easy to pronounce and are suggestive of a benefit or solution if possible. The name should reflect the character of the business, should set the tone.”

She stated she thought her company name, Virtual Impax, was not a good name because…

1)People asked her, “What do you do?” (I believe that to be an opening for your elevator speech, and that’s a good thing.)
2)Even clients don’t spell the name correctly so sometimes she has to return checks. (I think it’s great she acquired those clients. Could the name, being different, have contributed to acquiring that paying client in the first place?)

I’m not saying Virtual Impax is a perfect name.There will always be some controversy about corporate names. I’ve never seen, much less created, a perfect name. It’s “progress, not perfection” in the naming game.