Brand Activator/ Branding & Communications

Name Game, Step 1: The Strategic Framework


by Marianne Moore
Chief Strategy Officer
Stein IAS (Americas)

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In my first “Name Game” post, I outlined the following four core processes for developing optimum names:

  1. Establish a strategic framework as defined by both the company’s purpose and the company/product benefit(s).
  2. Develop a clear understanding of the target audience’s sensibilities–the key to “connecting” with a name.
  3. Undertake a competitive audit. What is the competition doing or not doing?
  4. If working within an existing portfolio, conduct brand equity research to understand what value, if any, existing names have.

Today I’ll focus on step 1: the strategic framework.

The question that everyone asks as they stare at that blank Word file, trying to come up with a name that captures the excitement and uniqueness of their master brand or of a specific new product/service, is how do I start? Where do I go for inspiration?

Too often, companies jump ahead to the finished house (name alternatives) without first establishing a rock-solid strategic foundation. But the strategic foundation is an important requisite: It becomes the road map for developing the name, the “true north” that guides the process.

Whether developing a company master brand or a product/service brand, start first with defining the company’s purpose in terms of the objective for the new name. Some common examples are:

  • Competitive differentiation
  • Existing positioning reinforcement
  • Positioning pivot
  • Customer engagement
  • Category definition or redefinition
  • Company merger or acquisition
  • All of the above

Once a clear objective is determined, it’s essential to determine the best means for communicating the company/product benefit or positioning for the name; in other words, what is the core essence the name should reflect? This essence is the true guidepost from which a name is developed. Without this guidepost, naming is just a guessing game.

I’ll dive into the remaining steps in future posts.

About Marianne Moore

The authors of the Brand Activator blog are from Stein IAS (Americas), New York, BtoB Magazine 2013 Agency of the Year.