When naming your company or brand it is important to think of a number of things:
• What does it mean?
• How does it translate?
• How does it look?
• How does it sound?
What does it mean? Some brand names have meaning behind the words and some do not. But if yours does have meaning it is important that it aligns to your mission statement and your target audience. For example Google’s original name was going to be BackRub. Can you imagine telling your work associate to “just BackRub it”.
If you are thinking globally you also need to make sure it is not offensive in other countries. To reverse engineer this … would you ever want to be a brand advocate of PEE COLA? In Ghana this means “very good Cola” so maybe not a bad choice there. Although, in the states I would opt for a COKE myself.
How does it look? Amazon’s original name was going to be Cadabra. However at quick glance someone thought it read "Cadaver." That would make for some pretty expensive and extremely creepy overnight shipments.
How does it sound? I moved from Brooklyn some years back. My mailing address is Accord. When I was getting acclimated to the area I pronounced it Accord — \ə-ˈkȯrd\ — as in the car Honda Accord. Many times I was corrected until I got it right. Accord, the town, is pronounced with a flat "A" — /eɪ/ -- with the accent on the "A"— ACK-kord. This just doesn’t sound like the bucolic place I relocated from Brooklyn for.
The original name of Accord NY was Port Jackson, which also has a more romantic feel than Ackkord. The story goes that the townspeople signed a petition which went to the Capital in Albany for a new name. However, “the powers that be” could not come to an accord on a new name. And “Accord” was chosen. Well, at least there was some reason behind the name.
Even so, in lieu of making a faux pas and saying I live in a four-door Accord, I opt to tell people the towns I live closer to such as Stone Ridge, Kripplebush, Lyonsville. All of these names feel good when I say them, feel representative of where I live and put a smile on my face.
So when coming up with a name for your brand, consider who will be your brand advocates and if your company name will put a smile on their face…. for the right reasons.
There is a lot to be said for a good name. Knowing the problems and discussions my parents had when naming their three kids — which left one of my brothers with a good compromise of two middle names: Peter and Peet — I can't imagine having a committee agree on a name for a company. Here is a great list of The Meaning of Brand Names:
When I was a kid I always loved the strange words my mom would say like "whatchamacallit" and "thingamajig". Later on she taught me the beauty of creating two words in one play during Scrabble.
Then in my professional life, when I was in my first briefing for Microsoft, I heard the most wonderful sounding word "wysiwyg". I couldn't wait to find out what that meant. Shortly after, naming a company, Zip2.com and seeing it sell so quickly was a thrill!
At Ogilvy I was fortunate to have copy writing partners that would allow me during our conception phase to throw out a headline such as "CROSS BORDERS, NOT FINGERS." for DHL's international delivery service, and actually letting it get to presentation stage.
Words are powerful, that is for sure. I'm a graphic designer and art director by training and love playing with typography. But when it comes to words, playing with them, it's just down right fun.
So here it is and it is official. (drum roll here please).
My first word:
Have you heard about the next big thing? There’s a buzz around it. Companies are trying to embrace it. Experts are being hired. Laggards are getting fired. Departments are being reorganized. New companies are emerging daily claiming to be experts on it. Digital marketing.
But… here’s some news. It’s not new. In fact, the whole strategy behind digital marketing has been around for a long time. CTA (call to action), CRM (customer relationship management), conversion, testing — all of this has been around for years. What was it called? "Direct Marketing."
What's new? The platform.
“The Internet is really about highly specialized information highly specialized targeting.”
— Eric Schmidt
With the advent of the World Wide Web came social networking platforms provides new funnesl for messaging — Social Media and eMarketing. It is new in that it’s a new vehicle for brands to reach out to customers and build brand awareness, loyalty and even create brand zealots. But the best practices are not new.
From a Direct Marketing vet… yes, I dare admit it, the more I read, the more I smile, as the principles I’ve learned throughout my career still hold true for social media:
Apparently, according to Logo Thief, $24.99 gets you someone else's logo! Something to consider when you are looking to hire talent to create your brand identity. Design firms in other countries are not held to the same copyright laws as in the US. Might be okay if you are opening up a brick and mortar in Tristan De Cunha. However, most businesses need a website to confirm their legitimacy and to go for a broader reach… don't forget what the first 2 Ws stand for in www. Be sure to invest in a logo you know for sure you can call your own.
One of my favorite books is "A Giacometti Portrait" by James Lord. It put my mind to rest of my constant desire to make my work perfect and knowing it will always feel like "it's the beginning of what it could be."
You finally determined your domain name AND it's available! So you jump on it and buy it. A couple of months later your receive a notice in the mail that you need to renew or lose your domain name. What do you do? IGNOR IT.
When the legitimate time comes, just renew with who registered your domain with in the first place or shop around. You are allowed to transfer to any registrar of your choice.
NOTE: If you go with the big Daddy of them all, expect constant upsells. Again, you have options. Do your research and ask around.
One of the first projects I did for IBM I was called into a senior executive's office at Ogilvy. My offense? I changed the color of the register mark after IBM so that it matched the logo -- IBM blue.
My instincts were right by my application was wrong.
Register marks, copyright marks, and the rest… they are important and do serve a purpose. However, they don't need to take over your message.
Some good go-bys from font.com
For ®s, TMs and SMs:
In "March of the Doohickeys" an article by Paul Rapp, a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law, you can read about the purpose of all of these extra doodads.
Bottom line: the marks need to be legible but not overbearing and not a design element of your logo. So if you are designing a bill board, be sure to scale down the size of the register mark accordingly … it doesn't have to be the size of a stop sign. And if you are creating a logo for an LLC my recommendation is to make it look like a "mark" versus part of the name. And always always follow the brand guidelines.
I'm not a blogger. Let's just start there.
However, I am a graphic designer, an art director and a creative director who has many years of experience working on brands of all sizes, big and small. Mostly big. The biggies — Amex, Microsoft, DHL to name a few.
After years in the advertising industry and working for one of the biggest — Ogilvy — I decided to go back to school for interior design at New York School of Interior Design. I like to help people and I like to make things look good. And the idea of making a career out of helping people be happier in their homes appealed to me. — But, I got frustrated.
I didn't want my work to be disposable. And didn't love the idea criticizing someone else's designs for being "oh so last year". The Welsh and Danish in me insists on using things if they still look good, still work and can't be "renovated, updated, upgraded". Great design is timeless after all.
So, I made a conscious decision to combine my desire to help people, my compulsion to make things look good, and my experience of working with fortune 500s, to start my own business to help small and medium-sized businesses look good.
"Scribbles" is a place where I will jot down tips and ideas that might help guide or inspire thoughts on branding or design in general. Now and then it will be used to offer kudos to my clients as it's their success that makes me happy. I am a designer with purpose after all.
Taking with me all of my experiences of working with fortune 500 companies and massive advertising agencies, I moved to the Hudson River Valley to establish my own company and am now helping clients all over build their company's brand.