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BRANDING | 10 Most Common Naming Mistakes | Part Four

A Great Name is Vital. Don’t Omit Crucial Steps.

When it comes to brands, the name is one of the most important elements of its proposition. A name is often the first act of public branding and helps establish the tone for a product, service, or company. It acts as the primary handle for a brand: It’s a recall and recognition device, it communicates desired attributes or specific benefits, and, through time and consistent use, it becomes a valuable asset and intellectual property.

However, many organizations take a very haphazard approach to naming, often omitting crucial steps that end up making the naming process longer, more arduous—and more expensive.

Following, I’ll explore some of the most common mistakes made when creating or choosing a name, and some tips to avoid them.

8. Thinking Everything Needs A Name.

New products, innovations, technologies, ideas, and acquisitions: As organizations expand and grow, there are more and more opportunities for the launch of new products and services—and the need to name them.

It’s in these cases where it’s important to ask whether a new brand or product truly needs a name. Too many names and brands in a portfolio often add to customer confusion—as opposed to signaling expansion or innovation—and can work to dilute your main brand.

This is where brand and naming architecture is vital. Create an organizing principle based on your brand strategy to guide decisions around naming so you can determine the ideal relationship between your main brand and any new sub-brands, line extensions, and flankers. Then choose naming approaches, for each, from there.

Not everything needs a name. Find the right focus for branding so your naming strategy always pushes equity to the brands that matter—and so your offerings always help your customers make the best decisions they can, quickly and easily.

9. Keeping Names That Are No Longer Relevant

As it often happens, the more we use a name, the more it becomes the right name—one that we are comfortable with, one that we associate with and understand, or even one that comes with an acquired brand. But many companies mistake this for the real equity in a brand name: the ability to drive consideration and choice.

Brands, by nature, evolve based on new and updated offerings, changes in the market and in customer demand, and innovation. In some of these cases, existing names may not be able to stretch with the offering or may not have the right fit and relevance to meet longer-term business objectives.

So it’s important to test names for fit and stretch. If you find the name no longer works, or it doesn’t have customer permission for a new definition, avoid abrupt changes that may alienate any core audience invested in the name. And make sure that any equity that does exist transfers to your new brand name.

Plan your re-naming and migration strategy carefully to smooth the transition from old to new. And keep your brand names relevant to truly position your company well.

10. Ending The Verbal Identity Process At A Name.

Given all that we’ve covered on the importance of naming, we know that a brand is so much more than just its name. While names are vital, valuable assets, they are only one part of your brand’s identity, particularly its verbal identity, or how we use the power of words and sounds in our brand expression every day.

Language is one of the most powerful tools we have to connect, not only with our customers at every touchpoint, but also very importantly with our employees and partners. And yet language—and how we empower each of our brand’s authors to use it—often lacks codification and activation.

The language of your brand starts at the strategy: your brand story, brand idea, and brand personality. Carefully chosen words set the inspiration and tone for your brand and impact how and what we communicate, how we speak, how we look—and even how we behave.

Create a distinct language for your brand by focusing on voice and messaging, and make sure you train all your brand’s authors to use it. It impacts advertising campaigns as much as job postings, and packaging as much as digital—and everything in between.