Just recently, I seem to have spent a lot of time naming or renaming products or companies. Not that I can tell you much about it though, as it’s typically confidential, like much of my work.

But I can give you the method that is at the heart of all my naming assignments: The 9 Ways of Naming.

It is a method that I developed with my former co-director Clem Wigley during the ten years that we ran our ad agency. Branding and advertising were what we known for, so naming just became a natural add-on that we had to get to grips with. Hence the 9 Ways.

Many business owners find themselves having to think of a name for a new venture, idea or company and some longstanding organisations realise that their name is holding them back.

If you are one of these, you may find the following methodology useful. The 9 Ways of Naming will certainly give you a good start. For a more robust approach I typically create a series of workshops & videos to engage with potential audiences and elicit their help in choosing a name. But that’s another story.

For now, just take a look at the 9 Ways of Naming.

  1. Proper nouns (names of people or places)
    BARNARDOS (from Dr. Barnardo)
    Numerous Law firms
  2. Descriptives (describing what you do)
  3. Metaphors (comparing the qualities to a well-known entity)
    ACORN Recruitment (developing potential)
    JAGUAR cars (sleek, fast)
  4. Found Names (these are randomly chosen names with no direct connection to the product)
    (although frequently made up later!)
    GALAXY chocolate
  5. Acronyms (the first letters of key words)
  6. Stick-togethers (where two or more words or abbreviations are stuck together to make a new word)
    NYLON (New York and London)
    MITEL Telecom (Mike and Terry)
    TENOVUS (“ten of us”)
  7. Soundalikes (using a sound associated with a product to name it. Not a common way of naming but very effective)
    KODAK (supposedly the sound of the shutter opening and shutting)
  8. Translations (common ones are (in Wales) are Welsh and also Greek or Latin)
    DWR CYMRU (Welsh Water)
    NIKE (The Greek, winged goddess of victory)
  9. Story Names (names that have a story connected with the company)
    VIRGIN (Richard Branson described himself as “business virgin”)
    AMAZON (Their logo represents the “A to Z” of books – their original product and the comparison to the river eludes to size, so it could be in the metaphor category, too)

Hope you enjoyed the blog.

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