Strategic Services

Good names arise out of a deep, strategic understanding of a brand. Every time Catchword develops a new name, we start with strategy. We begin by reviewing the company or product positioning with the client, and refining it if needed. We analyze the competitive naming landscape and identify opportunities for differentiation. We determine whether the new name will fit into existing product families, naming protocols, or name styles.

Strategy is front and center to every Catchword naming project, but sometimes you need deeper or more focussed strategic guidance.

A clearer naming architecture for your portfolio will make it easier for customers to find the products they want, and easier for you to add new ones.

Creating a naming protocol is the key for naming product families, co-branded products, line extensions, and project code names, so you’re not reinventing the wheel each time you’re faced with a naming challenge.

We also offer other strategic naming services, including

  • assessing whether you even need a name for your new product!
  • identifying opportunities for brand consolidation
  • recommending a naming style (descriptive, proprietary, alphanumeric, etc.)
  • evaluating the viability of names developed in-house
  • determining linguistic and cultural implications for taking a brand global
  • maximizing internal buy-in and external interest in your name launch
Naming Architecture  |  The right framework is everything

Like a well-designed house, naming architecture should be welcoming and intuitive, so it’s easy for customers to find their way to the brands they want. Too often, though, when companies have lots of long-standing brands, their portfolio becomes a maze of names that’s off-putting to potential customers and confusing to internal audiences.

That’s where we come in. Our process includes discussions with stakeholders, an exhaustive review of the existing portfolio of brand names and those of key competitors, and an assessment of which areas need streamlining or clarifying. We then develop a range of architectural options for consideration. Once a model is chosen and refined, we’ll develop guidelines for determining when new names are warranted, and a naming protocol for how they’ll be developed.

The result is a flexible yet consistent structure for housing all of your brand names that clarifies the relationships between different brands, maximizes your budget (by eliminating unnecessary proprietary names that require expensive marketing), and simplifies future naming efforts.

Naming Protocol  |  Rules of the road to keep you on track

Like their social counterparts, naming protocols make life simpler by providing decision trees so that you know exactly what to do when a particular naming challenge arises.

Some common challenges include

  • Name categorization: master brand versus sub-brand
  • Family naming conventions: use of words, alphanumerics, or numbers
  • In-house naming procedures: steps, checkpoints, and vetting
  • Name usage: consistency in use of company name, trademark symbols, and abbreviations
  • Co-branding: process for creating and implementing names
  • Code-naming: guidelines for choosing project names that won’t turn into real names

Having clear naming protocol in place will grease the wheels of your naming process, keep your naming portfolio orderly, and control the way your brand names are used in traditional and social media.

Name Audit  |  Take stock of your name portfolio—and the competition’s

If you want to get the most out of your existing brand names, or take advantage of weaknesses or gaps in the competitive landscape, it helps to get the 30,000-foot perspective. We offer both internal and competitive name audits for clients who want the big picture.

Internal name audits
An internal name audit can answer all sorts of questions you may not even think to ask. For instance:

  • How many trademarks do you own?
  • How many of them are current?
  • Are all your product names being used correctly in collateral and other marketing?
  • Are there names on your website that you don’t even know about?
  • Do you really own all the domains you think you do?

Internal name audits include IP assessments (of trademarks, domain names, licensed names, and co-branding), reviews of internal and external communications, analysis of existing names, and most importantly, recommendations for improving name equity, management, and marketing.

Competitive name audits
Or you may want to know what your competition is up to and how their names stack up against yours. Becoming familiar with their naming styles and the organization and structure of their brand name portfolio will help you understand what they—and you—are doing right and wrong.

Competitive name audits include an in-depth analysis of the naming strategies of up to five competitors followed by an analysis of the competitive naming landscape as a whole. We also provide clients with a summary of opportunities to differentiate from competitors and ways to improve current naming practices.

How to Evaluate a Brand Name.


Nothing like prospect of a recipe change to get brand loyalists all hot and bothered. Coke has rebranded Coke Zero to Coke Zero Sugar, promising that Coca Cola Zero Sugar will have an “even better unique blend of flavors” … and riled up they got.



At first glance, the change can be a head scratcher. Coke Zero, as the name suggests, has zero calories. Calories can come from either fat, sugar, or protein. So there is no way that Coke Zero had sugar in it to begin with. In fact, Coke Zero and Coke Zero Sugar list all the same ingredients (though perhaps the proportions were slightly changed), and preliminary blind taste tests suggest that die-hard Coke Zero fans can’t really tell the difference.

So what’s up with the rebrand? Why foment a fizzy fracas?



The first thing to note is that dietary focuses are changing faster and faster (paleo, kale, GF, Whole-30, ancient grains, La Croix, etc.), and it would appear that consumers are amending their purchasing habits more quickly as well. As such, food and beverage companies have learned to become incredibly responsive to trends. If you haven’t looked into the history of sugar in the food and beverage industry (specifically the big fight the sugar lobby had with the fat lobby, once upon a time), you should — but suffice it to say, sugar is out. And this consumer shift has happened relatively swiftly.

Further, it has always been the case that shoppers don’t want to have to look too hard at the labels. That’s why name brand drugs like Zyrtec and Tylenol still sell even though they are next to the cheaper, exact replicas Wal-zyr and … whatever the Walgreens version of Tylenol is. That’s also partly why foods that don’t contain gluten, and never have, now are labelled gluten-free. (Of course, the gf label is also a promise that there has been no cross-contamination.)

So Coke needed to make sure people knew without having to think too much that Coke Zero has no sugar. That explains the primary goal. But why did they need to change the whole packaging and name? Why not just add a short little “Does not contain sugar” line?

With soda, acquiring customers often takes the form of launching a new product rather than marketing an existing product. It’s relatively easy to switch around the packaging for these big companies; soda makers crank out new varieties that are more or less gimmicks all the time. (Remember when men weren’t buying Diet Dr. Pepper, so they made Dr. Pepper 10 to make them feel better about buying something lo-cal?)

What’s interesting in this case from a naming perspective is, this is a rare example of a major brand rebranding a less descriptive name into something more descriptive. There are plenty of instances of companies rebranding from more descriptive to less — e.g., RadioShack becoming The Shack, Research In Motion (RIM) becoming BlackBerry, or becoming But the other way round is rare.

It speaks to the pace of change in the food and beverage world. It speaks of a more fungible industry, and faster consumer spending habits. And in industries where the cycles can be short (like, say, naming mobile games), names have to get to the point and hop on the trend as fast as possible to make money. There’s no time to mess around, and they’ve found it’s easier to introduce an apparently new product to consumers than clarify something about an existing offering, even if they are, for all intents and purposes, the same.

What’s interesting in this case from a naming perspective is, this is a rare example of a major brand rebranding a less descriptive name into something more descriptive.



Follow Us