• Brand Strategy
  • Naming

A Curious guide to naming

12.09.2023

  • Brand Strategy
  • Naming

We love a naming project. It takes a unique type of creativity to come up with a good one. Everyone in the Curious team has their own go-to process (some are closely guarded secrets).

What Romeo got wrong

You might think naming is easy or unimportant – and you wouldn’t be alone. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare ponders: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

Technically, he’s correct. But he’s simplifying. He hasn’t acknowledged the subconscious perceptions that names stir in customers’ minds. If roses were called average red weeds, we predicted a lot fewer of them would be sold – no matter how sweet they smelt.

A smart seller of average red weeds would probably recognise they needed to change something to make their flower shop a success.

When is a new name necessary?

Naming briefs come in all shapes and sizes: from new businesses, mergers, and new product ranges to good, old-fashioned rebrands (more on that here) we’ve worked on them all.

A key part of a brand, a strong name can solve a problem. It’s an anchoring point that gives context to the rest of the brand. It’s part of a good brand strategy – and an introduction to your business.

You could have the best product out there, but if it has a name that isn’t easy to pronounce or jars with the sentiment of what you’re offering, it can be a big blocker to business.

Aeria Apartments: A business change means a name change

When serviced apartment brand Q Apartments first came to us, they were in a period of transition: evolving and simplifying their offering. Creating a holding company, QIG, to sit above their other brands allowed Q Apartments to carve out its own place in the service apartment sector.

Their industry is crowded. So, it was imperative that their name could act as a clear differentiator in the cluttered space they operate in. What made Q Apartments unique was they really understood what it was like to be somewhere. To feel comfortable. To know what’s what. That’s what our name needed to convey.

For Q Apartments, the (award-winning) name was Aeria. It’s warm and inviting, has a tangible link to their business and, most importantly, connects to our brand idea: Join the neighbourhood.

Where does the inspiration come from?

You can’t look for names in a random fashion. It’s a waste of time and money and will more than likely result in a name that doesn’t resonate with the brand or the audience you are trying to attract.

Do you need an emotive name to tell a story or a descriptive name that explains your benefit? If you’re struggling to make a mark in your industry, a new word might stick in your customers’ minds – or, if your customers find it hard to understand what you do, a new name could be key to onboarding new customers.

As with all our branding work, we start with a period of discovery. Putting our curious minds to work, we aim to uncover:

  1. Business challenges – What does the name need to achieve for the business?
  2. Industry context – Are there any trends in competitor names, and what kind of names do customers respond to?
  3. Brand personality – Are they serious, confident, playful? How far will they want to challenge industry conventions?

All these factors influence the sorts of names that will make it onto our shortlist. The three types of names we then consider are:

  1. Descriptive – These are straightforward names that describe what the company does.
  2. Associative – These are linked, loosely, to what the company does – enough that they will create subconscious connections in the consumers’ minds.
  3. Abstract – These are unique, often made-up words that don’t directly relate to the company’s work.

The last stage in our preparation is developing thought starters. These are creative jumping-off points taken from our discovery and strategy that we use as a starting point to begin thinking of names. From there, we let our creativity flow.

Evero: A strategic starting point

From their name, you’d never be able to tell that the Bioenergy Infrastructure Group (or BIG for short) were pioneering, innovative and creative – but they are. They’re at the fore of new waste management techniques, devising ways to turn what we throw away back into something useful.

Discovering more about their work confirmed they needed a new name to change perceptions and elevate them to more than a waste company. It had to encompass the brand purpose we had uncovered: powering the potential.

Using clues from the discovery, we developed three creative starting points:

  1. Transformation: changing something to be better
  2. Propelling forwards: an exciting step into the future
  3. Making connections: seeing the hidden opportunities. Working collaboratively to figure it out

From these, a clear winner emerged: Evero. It captures their determination to transform perceptions and practices around waste as well as their commitment to never stop evolving.

The complete case study is available to read here.

Naming is a collaborative process

We apply the creativity of the whole agency to naming. In our kick-off meetings, thought starters are briefed, and initial ideas are sparked. And then, after some initial thinking, we come back together as a team to share our initial thoughts. Hearing others’ ideas gives everyone new avenues to explore.

After a few rounds of suggestions and some light copyright checks (no lawyers involved yet), we put together a shortlist of names we feel best fulfil our brief.

This always involves a bit of debate in the studio. Though there are often a few clear favourites, everyone has different opinions on which names should make it through (usually their own).

How do we know if a name is any good?

There are a few rules that we always have in mind when it comes to naming. Keep it simple, pronounceable, translatable, and trademarkable. And remember, naming is subjective – there is no one perfect name for every business.

When we present our shortlist, we show the origin of every name, how it relates to their business and give examples of how it might be used in headlines and social media handles – this helps bring each option to life.

We genuinely believe that every name on our list would make an excellent name for the brand. But it’s up to the client to choose their favourite. And it’s personal taste that ultimately influences which name is chosen.

What a name can’t do

It’s vital to bear in mind that a name can’t do everything by itself. It needs to work in tandem with the rest of the brand to create a coherent and authentic impression of a company.

Often, we use creative hints hidden in the name in other parts of the brand. It’s great when this happens because it means we can create a consistent message throughout every brand aspect.

TKF, Naming, design

The Kite Factory: How name and design work together

MC&C were a media company with a difference. Unlike their competition, they put equal importance on creativity and data to drive their work, which meant they produced was not only visually very cool but also had clear targets and results.

When we re-named MC&C to The Kite Factory, our strategy focused on their ability to take ideas, grounded in data, and make them take flight.

The Kite Factory is a gift of a name, and we had a lot of fun thinking of creative ways we could bring it to life. The charming twist in the design is that although it’s alluded to throughout the new brand, you never see the kite. See how we transformed the name into a brand here.

Don’t underestimate the power of naming

Your name is your first chance to make an impression and a connection with a customer. As naming veterans, we know that whilst naming can be a fun and creative exercise, it can also be frustrating. There’s a lot of pressure to find one (or a few) words that sum up your business.

If you’re struggling to make the connection, we can help. Get in touch to start your journey to a new name.

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