The Name Game

A great name can make a Brand. A name establishes an organisation’s most overt identity and provides the raw material for making the Brand strong.

Creating a name is an exciting and challenging part of the Brand journey, as this critical stage is always invigorating. The longer-term importance cannot be underestimated as it becomes a reflection of a business’s overall identity, part of its voice.

Although deciding on a new name can appear very fluid and a subjective exercise, behind the scenes it needs a strategic, disciplined, and comprehensive process. The goal is always to create something that is memorable, recognisable and helps position the business so that it can achieve its ambitions and goals.

Framing the free spirit of creativity with a robust process helps separate right from wrong and creates a decision-making funnel that obtains feedback at critical phases of the process.


It’s critical to establish clear criteria and objectives: what ‘kind’ of name will suit the business, what broad territory does it need to inhabit and how do you want people to feel when they read or hear the name for the first time. The name needs to align with your Brand strategy, mission, and narrative.

We got there with our client Beyond R, who wanted a stand-out brand name that had no direct reference to ‘retirement’ for their post-work life programme of workshops, online videos and App, in line with the company’s strapline, ‘It’s time to retire retirement’. Beyond R subtly expresses the opportunities post-work, with the ‘r’ an implied gesture towards retirement

Stay Positive

It can be a tough and arduous task but there is no option but to generate lots and lots of names, pause, and then generate more. Always stay positive at this stage and don’t lapse into a  closed mindset of ‘that will never work’ mentality. It’s worth seeking multiple perspectives, holding internal workshops and focus groups always helps to gather a rich data set.

Don’t get attached

Because names can be subjective it can also mean they become personal, and so it’s important not to get blinkered by a name that you think is the only viable option, whilst ignoring everything else. Always stay objective and assess where you are heading, in parallel with your original objectives. Providing a platform to emphasise separate taglines and to develop compelling brand messaging always adds additional value to the name.

Practical issues

From a practical perspective be aware of potential issues regarding name registration, obtaining web domains, checking name availability and precise meanings in multiple languages, and always do your research for any negative associations with your choice. It’s worth noting however, not to let these constraints overwhelm, otherwise nothing good comes. It’s better to generate interesting ideas and then test them rather than not push at all.

So, although there are a lot of things to consider when naming a brand or a start-up business, if you follow a rigorous process the challenge and end result will be hugely rewarding and give you a name that will create some serious impact.