We’ve been doing a lot of naming for our clients lately. For start-ups, for new products, for new service divisions, etc. As we evaluate and create new names, and help our clients do the same, we looked at the old rules of naming.
Here are some from ABC Namebank International, a naming firm that’s been around for more than 20 years:
- Don’t lean under someone else’s umbrella, you’ll still get wet; Stay clear of legendary names.
- Creativity is a spark of genius. Over-creativity can cause fire and damage; Avoid overly creative solutions.
- Work locally, think globally & name universally; Name for the universe.
Made sense. And then we looked at some of the new rules of naming. This is from Seth Godin:
The shift, then, is from what the words mean to what the words remind you of. The structure of the words, the way they sound, the memes they recall… all go into making a great name. Starbucks is made of two words that have nothing at all to do with coffee (except for their profits) and the reference to Moby Dick is tenuous for most of us. But over time, the shape of the letters, the way they sound and the unique quality of the word makes it close to perfect.
That’s good, too. And last week, we started hearing about this new movie called “Superbad.” It certainly wasn’t a legendary name. It wasn’t all that creative. And I wouldn’t call it universal.
But it did remind of me of something. It was instantly memorable and made us giggle a little bit. It also reminded us of the Heath Brothers’ Made to Stick and their references to the importance of eliciting feeling.
When it comes down to it, good names should be visual and/or visceral.
When you hear or read a name, you should see something in your mind. A memory, an analogy, something. AND/OR When you read or hear a name, you should feel something. It should be instinctual, not at all intellectual.
“Superbad” gives you a feeling. An almost too painful to handle feeling. And it’s funny, too.
Our clients – when we give them criteria that makes sense to them, seem to accept it and utilize it to make a decision that is good AND makes them happy.
So far, this seems to be working. The names our clients have accepted are more “Superbad” than super bad.