Internal Naming Contests Can Destroy Your Brand Image

Internal Naming Contests Can Destroy Your Brand Image

More often than not, companies of all sizes, start-ups to billion dollar giants, will attempt to develop a new corporate or product name with an internal team. Clearly many successful names have been developed internally, or by a legendary founder. However, companies should be aware of the many factors and issues, best practice processes, and naming resources that can improve the potential to achieve a memorable, successful brand name.

Unfortunately, there are many problems associated with internal naming. Getting right to the point: inter-company naming contests are inefficient and almost always ineffective. While contests can generate a large volume of name candidates, tapping everyone from the janitor to the CEO is distracting. Without in-depth insight and a strategic process, almost all name candidates will be worthless.

A best practice naming process requires insight and understanding of the product or market category, customer needs and competitive positioning. Therefore, multi-functional teams while good for morale, again, are inefficient and ineffective. Marketing, sales, research and executive management are more than enough to support this important task.

A name development task force should include no more than ten managers, and preferably five. Naming is about quality, not quantity. And a large number of managers will get unwieldy and introduce political agendas.

With so much expertise in process development and process management at most corporations, there is a tendency to invent a custom process for naming, often since so little “how to” information exists. In many client engagements we have encountered a naming process without even rudimentary customer or competitor analysis.

So, where are these names coming from? Are they random ideas? Without training in name development or understanding of naming best practices, there will be a tendency toward mediocre literal or synthesized names, without breakthrough potential.

Another critical problem with internally developed names is lack of objectivity. Particularly with a vaunted multi-functional task force, political agendas and competition can hurt what should be an intense strategic and creative process.

In addition, a ranking executive or opinionated manager can shut down ideas, or influence their own favorites. In group situations—especially in a work environment—there is a tendency to go with the flow, or go with what the boss says. Never vote aloud!

A great alternative to appointing janitors to naming strategy (nothing against janitors, just trying to make a point) is to hire a naming consultant to facilitate the internal naming project, a naming process available from IDeas BIG™ and other branding consultants.

Consultants will bring a turnkey process and assist in determining an effective task-force make-up. In addition, they should be able to contribute to all phases of the project, from analysis to name candidate generation, to screening and selection. Objectivity will improve dramatically.

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