The process of naming a company

The process of naming a company

Mar 21, 2013 — 3 min read

One of the toughest exercises we encounter as an agency is coming up with a new name for a company. Clients come to us to develop brands all the time, it’s one of our strong suits. However, coming up with a name from scratch is an extremely onerous task.

I must admit though, naming a company (a product or a service) is one of the most satisfying endeavors we undertake. Maybe it’s an ego thing, but I take great satisfaction in knowing that our agency had a hand in naming a new venture.

It’s by no means an easy task. The process begins with all of the usual suspects, a list of clichés, the expected, the unimaginative, the low hanging fruit. Names that come to mind without even trying. The trick is getting to the gold. Sifting through the shit, raising above the din to net potential names that describe an inanimate object, service, or company is only the first step.

Once a list of potentials has been vetted by our creative team, the next step is to find appropriate URL’s. This has become very difficult these days as finding short, semantic web site addresses is next to impossible. The irony is, the URL is almost more important than the actual name itself.

Anyway, we go through a list of URL’s to match the potential venture name and register them one by one. There’s no point in presenting a name to a client if there isn’t an appropriate URL available. This becomes even harder should the client insist on a .com domain.

trademarks search and likelihood of confusionOnce a list of domains have been secured and matched with potential names, you would think the next step would be to present them to the client? Nope. We then have a trademark lawyer perform a preliminary search in the appropriate countries to identify potential conflicts. This means a separate trademark search is conducted in Canada, US, or any other country as required before we even consider presenting ideas to the client. Presenting ideas to a client before they’ve been cleared by legal can be suicide. Clients will cling to names they like, sometimes even get stuck or obsessed with a name and can make moving forward impossible should there be a possible infringement. This step usually eliminates about 30% of our selects.

Once we have a list of names and URL’s with fairly clear trademark searches, we then have to prepare a short brand positioning statement to support each of our proposed names. This helps a client to visualize how we might create a brand around a proposed name, what it might look like, and how it might sound in context. We Add a little colour you might say.

Names are mounted on good old fashioned boards and typeset in very simple type faces, after all, this is an intellectual exercise, not a visual one. Most clients gravitate towards a concept immediately, some are indecisive, and others have to allow themselves to absorb them for a few days before making a commitment. This process can be as short as 4 weeks, and as long as several months.

David Shephard

— Founder & Creative Director

An obsessive entrepreneur, with interests in renewable energy, motorcycles, and carpentry. David and the jib crew employ over 20 years of advertising experience to deliver sound strategies for an ever evolving marketing seascape.