- Category: December 2013 - Brand Management
Outside of market-based interaction, the topic of “naming” is not very present. A person hardly wastes consciously thoughts on the subject, except for the birth of their own child, when they realize that finding a name for their child isn’t an easy feat. So you can imagine that in the context of the economy, the difficulty of successful naming potentiates many times.
Given the fact that there are approximately 25-26 million trademarks registered and legally secured worldwide, it quickly becomes clear that the development of a new name for a company, a product, service or otherwise commercially usable goods should not be left to chance.
A strategic approach is needed
The naming takes the leading role in the branding process, which is justified, as the name is from the beginning to the end the foundation of the brand’s life cycle: the name is identity and signification at the same time.
As a name must be able to operate strategically on a corporate and marketing level, you should ask yourself if it is in line with the enterprise, if there is a naming system or if it should be developed, or if it sets itself apart from competing products and fits to the product, etc. Fact is that the naming requires a holistic approach and should not be limited only to marketing specific aspects.
Once a new name for a product, for instance, is set communicated in the market, there is in most cases no point of return. Distribution channels can be changed and improved, a corporate brand design can be "re-designed", and even all promotional activities within the marketing mix can be converted to specific target groups, but one thing always remains the same - the name!
Mistakes regarding content, time and legal issues
There are many mistakes that may occur during the development process of a new name, which are often mutually dependent and consist of content, time and legal aspects.
Flaws regarding content often result from carelessness or simply from negligence of important control measures. If, for instance, a name has been developed that is perceived as good and legally unrestricted in use, linguistic aspects are often grossly neglected. Thus, make sure you have clarified linguistic and phonetic criteria and checked all relevant foreign languages - especially colloquial meanings. A lack of language tests can have disastrous consequences, as seen e.g. in the automotive industry with names of new car models, such as Chevrolet Nova (“no va” in Spanish means “no go”) or Mitsubishi PAJERO (Pajero is in Spanish a cuss for “wanker”), or even Kia “Besta” (which in Portuguese means “idiot”), just to name a few. The list of mistakes is endless.
Other sources of error occur in trademark checks. It is not enough to check the new name’s domain availability on Google or to take a glimpse into the register of the patent and trademark office, as the examination and validation of trademarked names should always be performed by a specialist lawyer for trademark law - in particular, "Intellectual Property Rights".
In this context, the time aspect should be considered as well: From the name creation to the legal check, the official entry in a trademarks register and official confirmation (note: there is a 3- month opposition deadline), it can often take a period of 4-6 months until the new name can be used safely.
Especially entrepreneurs are often unaware of these facts and therefore calculate the time-/and cost factor for a name development insufficiently into their business planning.
It’s never an easy process
The development of a name is a complex process and starts much earlier than the creation phase. In co-operation with the customer, the positioning has to be clarified first, which determines then the brand strategy and requirements - only then starts the actual name creation.
During this process, a thorough examination of the applicability, the legal protection capability, as well as the linguistic effect of the name, has to take place as well.
The goal is to develop a strong name identity, which should meet the following principles:
- Simplicity - the name should be clear, catchy, and easy to remember.
- Uniqueness - the name should be unique and differentiable.
- Recognizability - the name should have a positive recognition and be easy to remember, besides having semantic content and phonetics quality features.
- Internationalization - the name should be able to back up the meaning from a linguistic aspect.
- Timelessness - the name should not follow trends so that it can function well in the future.
- Protectability - the name should / must be available and legally protectable.
There's unfortunately no perfect how-to guide for naming, but I hope you find the tips useful.
By Daniela La Marca