A couple times a week, at a minimum, I get an email from someone who needs a business or product name. Sometimes the sender has seen my blog; usually he or she has plucked my name from a Google search. Ninety percent of the time the email reads, in full: “We need a name. How much do you charge?”
Now, if you’ve never worked with a professional name developer, that may seem like a reasonable question. You may imagine I have a sack of names that are all (magically) available and that I’ll pull out the one that (magically) suits your (unknown) requirements. And then I’ll send you a bill for—shazam!—$39.95.
Unfortunately, professional name development is not a magic trick. Nor is it a one-price-for-all bargain basement. Every process is different, if only in its time constraints. So before I can send you a proposal and estimate, I’ll need answers to these very fundamental questions:
- What are you naming? A company, a product, a service, an app? You’d be surprised how often a query omits this basic information.
- Where are you located? Will face-to-face meetings be an option? A requirement? I don’t charge by the hour, but you are renting my time. I need to know up front how much of it I’ll be setting aside.
- How far along are you in the process? Have you written a naming brief, or will that task be part of my job? Have you attempted to name the business yourself and been dissatisfied with the results? Have you already worked with a branding agency and been dissatisfied with the results? Have you been using a placeholder name? The more groundwork you’ve already done, the more you’ve learned about what you like and don’t like—and the less I’ll need to charge to do my own research.
- How much time have you allotted for name development? When do you need a legally available name? Most name-development projects take about six weeks, start to finish. If you need a name in less time, I’ll charge a premium.
- Where will the name be used? North Oakland? North America? Worldwide? In other words, how big an area will I be searching for conflicts?
- What are your URL requirements? Do you have a budget for buying a domain? Are you open to using extensions other than dot-com? If you can be flexible about the domain, I can give you a lower fee.
- Are you looking for a name only, or for other elements of the verbal brand as well – tagline, feature names, descriptive copy? I charge a fair price for my services, but I need to know what those services are. Let’s avoid scope creep.
Name-development projects succeed when client and consultant agree on scope, timetable, and outcome. I’m not shy about telling you what I charge for my services – but I can’t pull numbers, or rabbits, out of a hat.