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Naming Strategies: Six Steps to Effective Naming

Chicago, IL-December 15, 2007-With an understanding of naming types, name generation can commence. The first step in any naming project (or any marketing project) should be customer analysis and profiling. This step is quite different for consumer versus business-to-business (B2B) markets. For consumer markets, identifying target audience demographics (age, gender, education, market area) and psychographics (personality, interests, attitudes, lifestyle) are important. For B2B markets, we often classify customers by industry or market segment, job title, purchase decision process, needs and benefits derived).
     Second, identifying and analyzing competitors is critical. Understanding relative competitive positioning allows you to define a market position that is unique and differentiated---not redundant and me-too. Mapping competitor names by name type is a great exercise. Again, you will find that most competitors tend to use literal name types. Surprisingly, most internal name development projects neglect even basic competitive analysis.
     Third, brainstorm and generate as many key words as possible that relate to your product, service, market, customer benefits, applications or uses. Review customer and competitor insights for more key word possibilities. Use a thesaurus to generate additional key words. Next, group these key words into similar categories, and consolidate categories to approximately five. Here's where an experienced naming strategist can help. Consider whether key word categories relate to potential positioning platforms, and rank the viability of each platform. Criteria for ranking positioning includes unique/differentiated, and defendable. Defendable means this position is more relevant to your product or company than a competitors, or your product or company would be perceived as the most likely owner of this position.
     Fourth, with key words grouped by positioning platforms, start generating names that relate to each key word group. Use a thesaurus and a dictionary to identitfy synonyms, definitions and meanings. Attempt to generate names in each of the naming types--Literal, Synthesized and Metaphorical. Some key word positioning platforms will be easy to generate names, others not so easy. Try to generate 50-100 names, as internal screening, trademark screening and domain name screening will eliminate a high percentage (up to 90% in certain categories).
     Now its time to eliminate names from this long list. To add objectivity to the process, DriveThruNames employs a proprietary name ranking tool that assigns scores to several criteria including distinctiveness, relevance, depth of meaning, trademark/domain availability and others. With a ranked list of names, select the top ten or so for trademark screening. Reviewing trademarks using the USPTO database usually eliminates 50-80% of generated names.
     Last but not least, the sixth step, conduct a thorough evaluation and comparison of the final few names. If possible, test the finalists with customers and stakeholders to support final name selection.


     Drive Thru NamesTM is a full-service brand name development consultancy, specializing in strategic business and product naming. Based in Aurora, IL, Drive Thru Names is a division of RB Communications, Inc. For more information, including a press backgrounder, contact Drive Thru Names at 630.710.4710, or visit

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