Naming and Branding
A Walkthrough to Naming Your Company
Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures
Finding the right name for your company can be a challenge. But, as with many things in life, if you approach the project with a clear timeframe in mind and get your goals in sight, the process is made so much easier.
Brainstorming long and hard with the naming process? Cut it into three stages.
Step Number 1: Enlist the help of people in the following groups:
- Visionaries - People who can express the future visions and missions of your company
- Decision makers - approach board members, any key shareholders, etc.3.
- Politicals - Any influential members of the board, offspring of founder members. They may not be the top decision makers but they will probably have influence over those who are.
- Employees - Yes, employees opinions can be very valuable at a certain stage, so don't overlook what they might bring to the table.
Step Number 2: Tracking Your Findings
Be scientific and measured about this process. You're putting hard earned money and effort into creating the ideal name, after all.
Ask yourself what you want the name to achieve. Ideally you'd carry out baseline research to establish what problems might exist, then you'd be able to assess success rates of possible names.
If you're renaming because your current names isn't conveying the message you want it to you might not have to start over again. Instead, here's an option:
Having gone through the relevant diagnostics at front end level you may find that slight refinement or modification of the name can be the answer. Look at compounding your words or using capitalization differently. For example change the name For Example to 4Xample!
Step Number 3: Your Suggested Timeline
Let's assume we are looking at a twelve month launch period. This is just a guide. Small and medium sized businesses may devise a name in a quarter of that time; Fortune 500 companies might need as much as a year and half timeline. Be flexible but always leave enough time.
Month 1 - 2
- List 4 -6 possible names
Months 2 - 4
- Consider and legal or trademark issues. Employ trademark experts to check the following:
- federal trademarks and state trademarks
- foreign trademarks
The expert should provide detailed reports regarding the risk levels connected to the given names. As a guideline, it is rare that the result will be that a name is entirely risk free. The best case scenario is that a name does not represent a greater risk than expected.
While your expert is dealing with the trademark issues, have linguistics research carried out. Focus on the languages spoken in the countries you will be doing business with. You don't want to use a name that has any negative or embarrassing connotations. Be sure to cover dialects as well, not just the main tongue of the country.
Months 4 - 6
- Now's the time to develop your visual strategies. Logo, an associated logo symbol, any sub-graphic aspects and color schemes should be clearly laid out.
- Incase of a name leak - which can happen no matter how tight your security, have a pre-prepped press release to hand.
Months 7 -10:
- Run mock ups to interpret your design blueprint in all the ways it will be used:
- print materials like office stationery
- facility signage
- fleet graphics
- company uniforms
- the business environment
- web site
- billing and statements, etc.
Now's the time to bring in your employees. Ask some of them to participate in focus groups. Ask them what they feel the company stands for. Find out what they see as areas that need improving. This seems unrelated to devising a name or name change but you'd be surprised how valuable it can be to compare their vision of the company with your own.
Months 10 - 12:
Resources and tools need to be put in place in order that so employees have easy access to items like the following:
- press kits
- logo files
- print collateral
- marketing and advertising
- information about the brand and or company
Take your program to your employees and get them to engage in the process.
Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."
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