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 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.
I understsnd your problem. I'm sure it happens to a lot of professionals. For instance, I'm an editor and occasionally I get an email saying: 'I need my thesis edited. It's 40,000 words. How much do you charge?' If I have the time to respond to such a request, I have to explain that I need answers to similar questions: What type of thesis? How far have you got? When is it due? What is the subject area? What type of editing does your supervisor recommend? Does your institution have particular requirements? Etc, etc.
Posted by: Michael Vnuk | October 10, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Context. Often overlooked.
Posted by: Gio Lester | October 24, 2012 at 08:05 AM