Anthony Shore, global director of naming and writing at mega-agency Landor, exposes and thoroughly discredits six wrongheaded (and all-too-common) ways to approach a naming project. In brief:
1. Wait until the very last minute.
2. Be sure the new name is descriptive, begins with the letter A, and has absolutely no negative connotations.
3. Alternatively, develop names that have no meaning whatsoever.
4. Invite the entire company to brainstorm over pizza.
5. Then have a contest.
6. Have a focus group to pick the winner.
Read the rest of the article. Take it to heart. Tell your boss.
On the other hand, this Wall Street Journal article¹ encourages the bad behavior Anthony Shore warns against. One company did the $200-and-a-pizza thing and came up with a monumentally boring name to replace its tongue-trippingly unpronounceable one. But hey--great pizza! Another company decided its full name was too long for a domain name, so it "settled on" (the Journal's term, not mine) a bizarre hyphenated acronym that defies memorability.
And these are the positive examples.
The best advice in the article comes--of course--from a pro. My long-ago mentor David Placek, founder of Lexicon Branding in Sausalito, "cautions against sacrificing an effective name if the domain isn't available. He notes that many people surfing the Web don't look for corporate Web sites by remembering a domain name. Instead, he says, they type the company's name into Google, and then click on a link that is listed."
"Companies shouldn't sacrifice memorability and creativity [in a name] just to have a URL," he says.
In case you missed it a couple of weeks ago, here's a link to my guest post at How to Split an Atom about seven ways to go wrong with naming. Yes, seven! When you consider that I charge less than 25 percent of what Landor charges, that's quite a bargain.
¹May be behind the WSJ paywall. If you want to read the full article, e-mail me and I'll send you a guest link.