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.


A lot of people have trouble sleeping. Some count sheep. Others get medical marijuana cards. A new option? Som.

Som is a berry-flavored drink that includes vitamins, minerals, and melatonin (a hormone) to help you relax and support healthy sleep patterns.



The company’s marketing team has done a good job leveraging the simple English word the name clearly recalls: some. “Can’t sleep? Get Som.” Note, this slogan suggests we are to pronounce the name to rhyme with tum and slumber (no coincidence there), not tome or Tom.

With the name Som, the company also certainly had in mind the Latin somnus, which means (you guessed it) sleep. You can see that root at work in these sleepy Latin-derived gems: somnambulate (sleepwalk), somnolent (drowsy), and somnific (sleep inducing).

Credit goes to the Romans for how the sound of Som perfectly captures the process of falling asleep. Sibilants (like “s”) tend to convey smooth movement; the “ah,” “oh,” or “uh” vowel tends to evoke depth; and the “m” sound that ends with a decrescendo closing of the lips suggests calm (think ohm). The word is short, yet lingers as long as we want with that humming “m,” a soothing, centering vibration (think ohm again).

You may also recognize in the name the Ancient Greek root soma, which means body and is found in the English words soma (the body of an organism) and somatic (relating to the body). Falling asleep is profoundly physical. Even the metaphor we use for it suggests a body, one in descent.

But what you may not know is that soma also refers to an intoxicating juice from ancient India used as an offering to the gods and as a drink of immortality. (Immortality sounds like a pretty nice benefit for a health supplement.) Now, the makers of Som have made very clear that the beverage is not alcohol or a medication, and don’t recommend mixing it with either. But calmly drifting off is rather akin to intoxication (the mellow kind, not the Red Bull-fueled raging variety).

The name is short and lends itself well to graphic presentation, which is desirable in package design and overall marketing, and helps with memorability.

Catchword Som name reviewWe are very glad the company wasn’t tempted to go the Zzzom route, which is not only an extremely tired construction, but also suggests zonked out rather than lulled to gentle sleep.

Another thing to note about the name Som is how utterly non-medical it sounds.

Let us give a little context. With prescription drugs, which this is not, names have to follow strict rules. In general, for a drug name to be approved by the FDA, it can’t sound or look too similar to an existing drug, lest someone filling a prescription over the phone choose the wrong medication or a doctor’s sloppy handwriting leave a pharmacist confused. Since there are so many drugs already, that means the pattern of letters, vowels, ascenders, and descenders of any new drug name must be unusual.

All of this has resulted in rather wackadoodle names for prescription drugs, and the acceptance — even trust — by the public of those strange names. Som sounds nothing like those and is clearly identifying itself as a non-pharmaceutical, natural sleep aid. (Note that energy drinks, sleep aids, and other supplements are not controlled or tested by the FDA.)

Our only critique of Som is that the desired pronunciation of the vowel is unclear. The English sleep words (somnolent, etc.) have “ah.” Some and slumber have “uh.” And soma has “oh.” In general, it’s best if your customers know exactly how to say your product’s name, when they order it or tell their friends about it, but also in their own heads. However, that’s a tiny disturbance in what is otherwise a branding dream.

We don’t need to sleep on it to know that Som is no yawn — meaningful, memorable, and fresh with a rich story to tell.

A lot of people have trouble sleeping. Some count sheep. Others get medical marijuana cards. A new option? Som.



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