Hints and Tips – How to approach Naming exercises

05 Oct 2016 | Research & Business Knowledge

A client is developing a new product, and wants help with naming it.  What do you do?  What techniques work?

Following a recent e-group post, here are some hints and ideas as to how to approach this problem…

Before the session

  • Manage the client's expectations.  It is not fair for clients to assume that consumers will come up with amazing names (after all there are consultancies that charge a fortune for doing this) 
  • Think about the group make up – do you want particularly imaginative/ creative respondents?
  • Run an identicle workshop with the client first – not only does it get them thinking (and appreciate the process), it could also generate stimulus that could then be incorporated in the consumer work.  I could also be useful to generate criteria or 'name rules' that need to be applied

Design some stimulus to help creativity

  • Often people apply assumptions and preconceptions to a sector re what is/ is not possible.  It may be a good idea to give people 'permission' to think 'outside the box' by providing examples from different sectors/ industries
  • List the different types of names that are possible and take them in turn during the session to see if they are relevant – these may include:

               – Proper name – e.g. Hewlett Packard

               – Generic: e.g. PC Specialist

               – Manipulated: e.g. MicroMax , Lenovo

               – Symbolic: e.g. Apple

               – Promise: e.g. Precision, Portage

               – Meaningful initials: e.g. IBM

               – Simply different: e.g.  Satellite

  • Provide lists of random names as stimulus.  Horse names are always a good bet – get hold of a Sporting LIfe and print out race cards.  there are usually a wide range and variety of interesitng names which could be used as jumping off points – how could this be made relevant in this field?
  • Show the product 'in situ' – physical and situational images showing when/ how the product will be used, the target audience, the problem that the product solves can be used to spark ideas
  • create images of different brand Archetypes with examples (e.g. The Hero, The Outlaw etc) and get the groups to work out which characters they want to be and choose a name which fits that character

During the session

  • Define (or summarise if already clearly defined) the objectives for the name: what it should communicate in terms of brand values, type of product, any distinctions from competitors / other issues to avoid. This goes up on the wall as key objectives for session to deliver on.  This exercise may well follow a more intense 'product developemtn' session where the product features are being discussed/ ranked etc.
  • Set up rules separating name generation from name selection (otherwise early criticism can stifle creativity)
  • Do some brand projection exercises to make brief come to life – if it was a pet it would be…,  if it was a car it would be…, how describe to visitor from Mars etc. Maybe use this to add more detail to naming objectives.
  • Put participants into small groups and get them to come up with name ideas – maybe different groups covering different directions.  Have copies of Thesaurus / dictionaries to hand for them to use.
  • After groups have presented back, run voting to get shortlist (maybe people voting with stickers)
  • …repeat as necessary!

After the session, remember to;

  • Consider running a second client workshop, or even a client/ consumer workshop to review the names that have been generated and come up with some clear winners
  • Check the name/s with as many colleagues as possible who speak different languages and of different generations to make sure we have unearthed any cultural/ colloquial / generational  issues
  • Check the names online to see who the competitors are / which other industries the name is used in

If you have any more ideas/ techniques, please email and we will add them to the list…