A Critical Pre-Naming Exercise: The Creative Brief

By Maria Cypher

June 23, 2011

In my Naming by Numbers blog post of May 26, I shared the many roadblocks facing potential name candidates. To overcome these hurdles, an effective naming process requires the creation of an enormous pool of potential names — hundreds or even thousands of names. This concept of “quantitative creativity” is essential to ensuring that great names are left standing after factoring in strategic considerations, legal and domain-name requirements, linguistic analysis, and human subjectivity.

How do we begin the process of creating a massive number of names? The first step is developing a solid naming strategy and creative brief, which includes looking at the competition and identifying areas of opportunity.

To illustrate, let’s pretend we are naming a new naming firm. After doing some competitive research, we note that a lot of the players have names that include the words brand and name (for example, Brand Institute, BrandEdge, Brandplay, Brand Unity, InterBrand, Namebase, Namestormers, Namelab, and Namequest). To be distinctive in this space, we decide pretty quickly that we do not want a name that includes those words.

But what do we want to communicate? When we start our creative exercise, we always want to have some idea of naming messages, even though they may change as we get deeper into the process. In the case of our naming firm, we decide the name should at least suggest language and naming, though not overtly like our competitors, or in a way that will keep us from branching out into services like taglines or brand architecture.

All of these considerations go into our naming brief, along with thoughts on name tonality, construction, length, legal considerations, and whether the exact domain name is required. Although the naming brief may seem like a formality, we’ve found that it helps to clarify everything up front and acts as a great starting point for the creative team.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll talk about some other elements of the name creation process.

Need help with a naming project? Catchword is an award-winning naming agency founded in 1998, with offices in California and New York. Contact us to learn more how our team can help.

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