I have a confession to make: Naming is one of the key parts of what we do at Capsule, yet I struggle with it. Product, company or program, it's all the same.
Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love analyzing a brand, searching through its attributes for clues, digging into metaphors and semiotics - it's a lot like being a brand archeologist of sorts. The process of getting at a brand's essence, and figuring out an original, effective and striking way of conveying its story and its promise through a name really is absolutely fascinating.
There are two downers, though, and they're pretty significant.
The most obvious is that of protectability. Chances are, for every idea that I think is brilliant, someone else out there has already thought of it. And they've most probably trademarked it (or, if they haven't, they're actively using it and therefore rendering it unusable for everyone else).
The other roadblock can be the client themselves, particularly when you are renaming a company. This can become necessary for a multitude of reasons: mergers, buy outs, or simply discovering that the name a client has been using is not protectable, not appropriate anymore, or just... not good.
This is when we have to meld into the role of the therapist, coaching the client through the process of change and making it as painless and even pleasant as possible. Conducting market research can most certainly provide the ammunition needed to convince the client that the change is needed. For some, it really is as sensitive and personal an issue as deciding what to name your own baby would be.
Often people fall into the trap of believing that the PERFECT name is out there just waiting to be plucked from somebody’s brain - a name that succinctly references everything the company ever was, is, hopes to be. Not possible, people. You just can't expect a mere name to perform too much. A name never exists in a vacuum - it will live out there in the world, always in a context of some kind. It's up to you to build the brand and the name will take on a life of its own.
Our philosophy when naming is to strike the perfect balance between suggestion, intrigue, descriptiveness and the "X factor". One of my favorite success stories is Prairiestone.
Byerly’s and Lunds were making a big push to have pharmacies in all twenty-six Lunds and Byerly’s locations. Their current partner was not interested in making the investment, but they found three risk takers who were more than willing. Each founder represented a leg of the stool required to support the retail business they were looking to build. One is a pharmacist, one a business manager and the third a marketing manager, all three core skills required.
Capsule was asked to help define the brand these three founders were intending to create, name it, design an identity and then help them sell it to the Lund Food Holdings management team. The timeline was extraordinarily tight with the first objective to have the business up, running and working profitable in 4 months.
“What we have been repeatedly impressed by is just how well they brought our many brand intentions together into a name that resonates with a wide array of customers, employees and business partners. Hardly a week goes by that someone doesn’t say, “What a perfect name...”
We were recently giving a tour to business people from out of town and they commented on how well we had done our brand work. From a name that reflected our Midwestern values, to an identity that appealed to our audiences, to a beautiful mix of passion and intellectual depth telling the customer that we offered something new and exciting.”
[Lew Zeidner, PrairieStone Pharmacy Founding Partner]