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July 14, 2009

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I hadn't heard of a naming brief before. That's really interesting. It makes complete sense, though... that kind of thing can have a huge affect on the reaction of the receptor.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on how a company with a wounded but utterly memorable name like Philip Morris wound up with a botched abortion of a name like Altria. Which sounds like a drug advertised on the USA network after midnight.

But that's for another day. One wonders how a new company that's thought through its entire product hasn't already come up with a naming brief, long before it gets to the naming consultant. Some of your points go beyond the presentation of the business, of which naming is vitally important, into the core question of:

WHY?

I'm not a professional namer, but do have a little experience with starting a business and it seems to me that part of the answer to "WHY?" lies in pure inexperience with marketing. For example: two artists starting a gallery; good artists? Maybe. Good at marketing...well. It's nice to have experienced advice.
Even large companies may be run by people with experience in only science or accounting. IMO

The lack of proper briefing is an affliction that goes far beyond the requirement for a company name.

I expect you find that executives want you to start suggesting names the moment you sit on their leather couch: in the same way companies that want TV commercials and corporate videos invariably expect the producer to mind-read the commissioning executives. They are always surprised when I don't immediately start with, "I see a sunrise and the [company's product] appearing over the horizon"... or somesuch; but instead start asking questions such as, "describe the typical customer for this product".

When talking to the client I always summarise the brief as, "who are the audience and what are your aims? This can then extend to more detailed questions such as, "who are your competitors and how does your product compare; and, "in what viewing situation do you expect the audience to see the commercial/DVD,etc." .

Briefing a supplier adequately is a vital skill that should be taught to all executives. Even when they're bright enough to have realised a brief is needed, they will often use it to describe what they want; rather than describing what they want to achieve and then leaving the professional to come up with how the objective is to be realised. Like you (I imagine) I frequently have to prise the brief out of the client, who feels that I'm wasting time.

I wonder how often does your client starts by saying, "we're looking for a name like...", rather than "we're looking for a name that achieves...".

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