Top 10 guidelines for choosing your new name.


Naming is not for the faint hearted.

Here are 10 steps to help guide your process:

Select a realistic time frame: Good things take time

Depending on the company, a thorough naming process usually takes 4–6 weeks, not including time for research and legal vetting.

Use your imagination: Kiss some frogs

When iterating names, you can literally “go nuts”. There are few rules and lots of options. Remember If your sector is super competitive, conflicts or trademark screening may preclude a lot of them. As a guide pre-screen 50 or so and conduct a full audit on 10.

Don’t decide by committee: Death by a thousand cuts

Your goal is not a name that no one objects to, but a name that differentiates and engagingly expresses your brand. Structure your decision-making so that only those with veto power get to engage and make sure your team is briefed and fully invested in the process.

No matter how good your name is: It won’t tell the whole story

Your brands origin story gives the deeper narrative, web site, packaging, logo, advertising, and other brand touchpoints give context and work to tell your brand’s story. Don’t expect your name to say it all. Names that try are almost always, dull. Building some intrigue into your name leaves your audience wanting more.

URL choice: You have options

A memorable name that needs to be modified with a descriptor for domain purposes is often a better marketing choice than a less distinctive name that’s available as an exact.co.nz or.com domain. We now have the choice of .nz, .kiwi, .online, .store or even online!

Beware of dumbing down: Don’t underestimate your audience’s intelligence

Don’t be overly literal or reject a name because of an unimportant association, even if it’s negative, as long as the name’s other higher order meanings work for the brand. Your audience will work it out, and remember your physical brand assets will give context.

It’s not all about “Unicorn” names: Mythical creatures can be hard to work with

Don’t get bogged down in searching for a name that’s never been used before. You can often adopt a name that’s similar to one used in an unrelated sector. Think Apple Mac Mini and Mini Cooper. Or iconic New Zealand brands, Barkers Menswear and fruit product pioneers Barkers Of Geraldine who have happily coexisted in the New Zealand retail landscape for over 50 years.

Get past personal “baggage”: Just let go

It doesn’t matter if a potential name reminds you of your old geography teacher or 80s synth rockers, Depeche Mode no one else remembers or even cares. These are idiosyncratic, personal associations that few if any of your audience will share. Look beyond them, stay objective and open.

Embrace the unusual: Difference not indifference

Don’t veto ideas that may seem a little odd at first. It’s in our DNA to be more comfortable with ideas and concepts we’ve seen before. Don’t be tempted to follow the flock. Your name must work to differentiate your brand. If in the back of your mind you’ve seen this name before in you brands competitive ecosystem, then usually so has your audience. Don’t try and “wing it”, the internet is an unforgiving place. Due diligence is essential.

Perfectionism: Objectivity takes the pressure off

When we were thinking about our own name, Spruik® we wanted something that was in the dictionary, short, easy to pronounce, original, curiosity provoking, cool-sounding, meaningful, searchable, trademarkable and available as a .com! We ticked nearly all the boxes except, pronunciation (For some people Spruik® is not easy to pronounce, but it’s a fun, memorable conversation and for those who find us online, our name is in the dictionary).

Just prioritise your wish list and be prepared to choose a name that meets only your top criteria.

Remember every great name has its downsides and no name will tick every box.