Category Archives: Name Creation

Naming Tips – Number 16 in a Series

Most business owners seem to think their company name should describe the business they’re in.

But when you do this, you’ve named a product category in which you’re participating as well as your company, This does not differentiate you from competition, and your name becomes common, dull and probably too long.

An effective and relevant name can suggest the product’s major attribute or benefit. It can evoke positive associations surrounding the product. It can promise a solution to a problem or the fulfillment of a desire. But an effective name, one that differentiates and will be remembered, will not define the offering.

So look to other means if you’re looking for a fresh, unique and memorable company or brand name.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips – Number 15 in a Series

Carrying on from last week, here are a couple of additional functions a brand name can assume aside from identifying the company, product, service or event.

The name can help in the selling process for the product, primarily by stating or implying a benefit. Think Easy-Off Oven Cleaner. Or Healthy Choice. Or Die-Hard. Or Secure Horizons.

Closely allied with the benefit-imparting function is the emotional trigger. Here the name is used to stir something in the “gut”.

Perhaps mystery (Obsession) or domesticity (Hearth & Home), or patriotism (Minute Man), or security (RightGard) can be aroused simply through the name.

But quite often the name won’t be able to function as either a benefit or emotional trigger for a number of reasons: legal, professional, competitive and/or strategic. If this is the case, it’s usually time to create a tagline that states the benefit or acts as the trigger.

Martin Jelsema

Naming tips – Number 14 in a series

The name can – and probably should – have more than one function. Of course, identity is number one. But aside from that, consider how the name can help your brand in the following ways:

Contribute mightily to the brand’s “personality”.

One of the techniques I use when getting input from a client is to have them define the personality they believe their offering should possess. I give them a list of personality “traits” and ask them to choose the three most appropriate. Name generation and evaluation can be guided by these attributes of “style” and “tone”.

Here are five of the 40-plus traits I suggest a brand could have:

    • Assertive

If you’d like the entire list, just click on the “Comments” button below and let me know you want it. And provide any feedback you think might help me serve you better.

Another possible function of a name is to help “position” the offering

Now positioning can never be achieved through a name only, and in fact, is often better served through other branding elements.) But it is possible to fashion name candidates that can help to position the entity…

    • in its industry/product category.
      in a specific market.
      with a specific type of buying influence.
      with a specific application.
      with a strategic differentiator.
      with its heritage/tradition.
      as a new market entrant.
      as a market/industry leader.
      as the premier provider of a specific attribute or characteristic.

Just describe the desired position (for example, “first-to-market with Internet-based solutions”) and ask name-generators to consider that position when exploring possibilities.

I’ll address some additional functions of the brand name next week.

Who is the leader of the brand?

I received a comment last week that struck a chord with me.

The commenter was concerned that the name of the brand received much more attention than it deserved, particularly in defining the brand itself.

I see his point.

The brand is much more than a name, a logo, a slogan and a color palette. All those elements are necessary in conveying a prime, unique brand personality. But the essence of the brand is in the guts of the company or product.

Read the chapter New Business: New Brand from Tom Peter’s Re-imagine! Here he discusses the essence of a brand. Why is it being introduced? What is it’s “Dramatic Difference” (one of Doug Hall’s “laws of marketing physics” as Mr. Peters points out).”

Expose the vision and share the passion behind the product or service. That’s why you should start the branding process with a look at the emotional reasons you plan to introduce the new brand. (I do believe today that every new successful product introduction was first a decision made with emotion and passion of champions with a dream. Only then did they find a way to rationalize the decision, but that was justification for the already-made decision.)

Anyway, it’s the branding team who needs to discover and “bottle” that passion as a brand. The way you differentiate and position and segment and finally crystallize the brand identity, how you demonstrate the emotion to targeted prospects, determines the success of the brand.

And now back to my main point: it is the name above all other elements that will stand for the product. If the name can convey that emotional level and tenor, it has become the vanguard of the brand. With a single word or two, the brand attracts associations, emotions and attributes that set it apart as a memorable, viable brand.

Yes, the name is just one branding element. It’s part of the brand in the same way the drum major leads the marching band. All are in step and their uniforms are, well, uniform. But who wears the fanciest uniform? Who sets the tempo and is the first to be seen?

Let’s just say the name is the leader in the band of brand.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips: Number 13 in a series

This time I want to address some brand naming preliminaries.

I believe naming is a discipline that can be learned and practiced, and just like dance or jazz improvisation, a thorough grounding in the basics is vital before you can successfully take wing.

So here are two tips for preparing to tackle the task of naming your brand.

First, be clear about what you’re naming.

Quite often an entrepreneur will consider the company and the product as one in the same. This is probably a bad idea, particularly if there’ll be additional products or services later on.

Establish an “architecture” for your current and future name hierarchy. Consider how you’ll differentiate product extensions from the “mother” product. Determine how you’ll treat models of the same brand. Think about the relationship between the corporate name and the product name(s). Consider, too, any relationships between product lines, products and services, and the to-be-named offering with other brand associations already established within the organization.

The hierarchy can take the form of a genetic tree, or a mind map perhaps. It is a tool that can also be used in the strategic planning process.

Create a naming brief.

A naming brief will undoubtedly contain much of the same information as the brand platform. But it is usually condensed and made specific to the naming process. This is especially important if “outsiders” are hired to contribute name candidates because the naming brief does not need to contain confidential information, whereas the brand platform will.

The naming brief should contain specific and focused information concerning:

* Background about mission, strategy of introduction, brand hierarchy, markets served, product category characteristics, identification of competitors and their positioning and branding strategies, buying influences and practices.
* Product/Company attributes such as aspired position within a product category, differentiators, feature-advantage-benefit table, brand personality descriptors.
* Other pertinent information that might contribute to insight concerning the brand.

Use these tools in the beginning and your list of name candidates will be long but much more focused. From relevant comes relevancy.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips: Number 12 in a Series

In a previous entry in this series, I mentioned exploring the words that define colors (i.e., red, blue, etc.) in brand names because they invoke emotional responses just like the hues do.

Now comes another source of large lists of brand name candidates.

Many paint companies name their various shades and hues of paint with compelling and descriptive names. These same names can be inspiration for product names, and yes, for company names as well.

You can venture to your local Home Depot or Lowes and pick up some sample color strips, or better yet, visit the web sites of the following paint companies:

Now here’s another tip, but this one’s not about naming.

You can use these websites, as well as those of Dutch Boy and Benjamin Moore, to view and select color combinations you might want to use for logos or packaging. You get to select and match colors on-line. And if your brand is web-oriented, you’re seeing the colors as they’d be on your web site.

Just download the graphics containing your selection, open the jpeg in your imaging software, use the color-picker feature and there you have your palette. Then if you’re into trade dressing, you’ve also identified paint colors for your walls and fixtures.

Pretty neat if I do say so myself.

Martin Jelsema

What were they thinking?

Television ads continually amaze me.

To find one that really works is rare these days. It seems that fewer and fewer actually make sense. They tend to ignore the product and its benefits so they may display the agency’s creativity.

I believe there’s more to advertising than mere attention-gaining.

And now I’m noting that brands themselves are boarding that same rickety bus. They are branding for attention, and only for attention.

Here’s the latest, and in my opinion one of the worst, of this mongrel breed.

FishEye Wines.

FishEye wines?

What were they thinking?

How in the world do you find any relevance in a name like that for a beverage? Do they squeeze the eyes of fish to make it? Do they inspect it with a special lens? Not only is it irrelevant, it’s repulsive.

Now this is a boxed wine. It may have its appeal, if any, with a younger target market I just don’t understand. But I can’t see any of my grown children finding FishEye wine to be at all appealing. Even if the price were in the “Thunderbird” range, it is a put-off.

I’d like to hear from members of the 20’s age group, particularly if they can point out something I’m missing.

I can only guess that they thought a brand name like FishEye was so out-of-the-box that it would sell boxed wines.

Unique is prized in branding, but there’s got to be more.

My consulation?

I’ll bet there won’t be many catching FishEye.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips: Number 11 in a Series

The activity of naming a brand usually requires generating as many ideas, and then name candidates, as possible.

In order to find just the perfect, available name – whether you’re naming a company, a product, or a service – can be arduous and time-consuming. If you, like me, believe “quantity first” is the practical approach, consider exploring on-line name generators.

There are so many naming aids on the Internet that I’ve not even begun to discover what might be available.

But here are a couple of resourses I’ve recently discovered that are worth blogging about.

The first is called Seventh Sanctum and it’s an authority site and directory for name generators of all types, both ones they’ve created and scores of others.

The URL is:

Not all of the name generators listed are appropriate for brand names, but almost all are 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. Like the “Fantasy Place Name Generator” at

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.

Then I’d try Word Mixer for a different type of name generator. You input up to five words that are relevant to your naming project and the on-line program gives you back a list of several dozen new words containing those you’ve inputted. Here’s their address:

If you know of other naming resources that you believe The Branding Blog should explore, please use the comment section below to guide me to them.


Martin Jelsema