Friday, June 2, 2006


We do a fair amount of company and product naming assignments for our clients. The next time you’re involved in a naming project, you may find the following observations useful:

Build your “naming committee” carefully. Only the key decision-makers should be involved. These people have the vision and are directly responsible for the company or product name. This will be one of the most important moves you make in the process.

No false starts. The naming committee should agree on the key message the name
needs to communicate. No creative work should begin until this is agreed upon.

Mum’s the word. Keep the name in the committee. This is critical. You can unwittingly kill potentially great names by running a “word” by someone in the hallway—either at the office or at home.

Take the phone test. Listen to someone speak the name over the phone. Is it clear? Easily understood? Do the words run together and form some other unintended word? Yup…this is low tech…but very important and effective.

Don’t skimp on legal help. Is the name you like clean? Or would your use infringe on someone else’s claim? Don’t leave it to chance. Do a preliminary trademark search using the United States Patent and Trademark Office search site. Check Google and/or another general use search engine for usage. If there’s a well-traveled portal or two in your key vertical markets, search there as well. While these are good first steps, your final choices (don’t fall in love with just one) should be vetted by an attorney to make sure they’re clean.

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