In Name Development, Begin with a Naming Brief

Name development starts by determining what’s important in the business name you chose.

It also needs to provide information about what you’re naming and your thoughts about . This is vital if you are using outside sources – freelancers, ad agency, employees and even family – to help you name your company or product. The document for this effort is called a Naming Brief.

So I’ve outlined below the elements of a generic brief you could use for your new company name.

Business Overview/Background

1) Describe the business entity, its purpose/mission/vision/reason for being

2) What is the entity’s structure? (sole corporation, subsidiary, franchisor, joint venture, etc.)

3) What products/services does the entity provide? Will these products/services be branded separately from the entity brand or will they “reside” under the entity brand?

4) What market(s) does the entity compete in?

5) Who are the competitors? Provide the name of their products/services, too.

6) Within each served market, describe the major buying influences. Include demographics & life styles for consumers, corporate functions & levels for B2B markets. Include customer motivations, habits and “hot buttons” if known.

7) What are the key features and characteristics that differentiate this entity from its competitors?

8) Identify and rank the stakeholders as to their importance.

Name Functions & Descriptors

1) Aside from identifying the entity itself, what additional functions might the name perform? (Note: the suggestions below have to do with positioning. Positioning can never be achieved through a name only, and in fact, is often better served through other branding elements.)

( a) Position the entity in its industry/product category.
( b) Position the entity in a specific market.
( c) Position the entity with a specific type of buying influence.
( d) Position the entity with a specific application.
( e) Position the entity with a strategic differentiator.
( f) Position the entity with its heritage/tradition.
( g) Position the entity as a new market entrant.
( h) Position the entity as a market/industry leader.
( i) Position the entity as the premier provider of a specific attribute or characteristic.

Now for each positioning arena checked above, describe the desired position.
Example: “first-to-market with Internet-based solutions”

2) List the characteristics and attributes you wish prospects and customers might use to describe an entity, and to which the entity might aspire. Below are some examples that might apply.

 Business Naming: Characteristics for a New Name

3) This list contains “personality” descriptors. “Check the three or four most appropriate descriptors that honestly reflect the entity, its vision and culture, while also imparting the “image” most appropriate in attracting target market(s). Add any others not listed in the space below the list.

Business Naming: Pertsonality Traits to Reflect in your Name

Note: you might find little difference in “characteristics” and “personality”. That’s OK, just go through both lists anyway as a measure of your clarity about the direction your naming activities will take.

4) List any preferences and prejudices that might mitigate a particular direction for exploring name candidates. Examples: “Make sure the name candidates are no longer than two words”, or “Don’t incorporate the generic product category label in name candidates because of future expansion plans”.

5) Provide examples of business names you find compelling, and also list those that come to mind you find repelling.

There is one additional piece that should be developed before getting the creative juices flowing. That’s identifying and prioritizing your naming criteria. I’ll cover them in an upcoming post.

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