Google+ The Name Game

The Name Game

Name development is a wonderful and fun and delicate balance between art and science. At McKnight Kurland, we generally have one or two naming projects going at any given time. And they tend to be some of the more challenging tasks we undertake. It’s really no game at all—but you ‘gotta have game’ to do it well.

Sometimes the client has a good idea of the direction they want to pursue, and more often than not, we are addressing an issue with the existing name that needs to be fixed. Often times the current name is limiting– in geographic reference or services and capabilities.  Sometimes it is not consumer-friendly, or not reflective of any pertinent quality of the organization.

And then there are the new companies and products. These tend to be much more wide open projects for us. We’ll start with a deep dive into the brand to truly know who our target audiences are, what are the brand features and benefits, and what the brand essence is. From this we can create names that go in every direction, because not all great names are simply descriptive of the company: Apple, Google, Starbucks, etc.  And yet, when that direction works, it usually works well: Public Storage, Web MD, Burger King, etc.

But our goal is to listen to the client’s desires and provide a range of options. From that first presentation, it usually becomes crystal clear as to which path we should pursue. Brainstorming with the team—and our iPads at hand—we pursue every train of thought and peruse countless websites to choose the top recommendations. It must be a bit like naming your baby— choosing today what you’ll be happy with in years to come.


And the similarity goes a bit deeper, because it will take some time for the child to find a voice and weigh in on how well they feel the name fits. Others will also form opinions on that—you’ve heard it before: “he doesn’t look like a “???”, or “she doesn’t act like a “???”. Similarly, once the newly named brand is out in the marketplace, people will eventually form and share opinions on it—thank you social media. And while their comments won’t generally be restricted to the name alone, they will be about the brand that is embodied in the name.

So, as the Grail Knight said in the 1989 Indiana Jones movie: “Choose Wisely.”

by Frank Kurland


Leave a Reply