How to add marketing ‘zing’ to your amazing new ‘thing’

Hey! I need to name….something!

No, not my kid or my dog. But I have this company, or this product offering, or this campaign or event. I want to market this “thing” but it needs a catchy name.

My friend. You need some zing.

There are lots of things in business that it makes sense to name. Everyone loves and will remember a catchy phrase that gets stuck in your head. But how do you go about doing that… finding that catchy phrase or that perfect name for your ‘thing’?

There are some guiding principles that can help.

Five types of names

First, recognize that naming strategies generally fall into of 5 categories (or some combination of them). They are:

  1. Descriptive
  2. Suggestive
  3. Playful
  4. Arbitrary
  5. Wordplay or Acronym

Next, understand the scope of your naming project. This involves an analysis of some basic questions that pertain to your specific naming strategy. Answers to these questions will inform your discovery process. These questions include:

• What are you naming?

• How long will it last in the marketplace?

• What are the characteristics the name should communicate?

• What is the personality or attitude you want to convey?

• What other brand properties does it need to relate to?

• How will it be used? What design considerations will inform the solution?

These answers essentially comprise your design brief. Whether you’re taking on this project naming strategy yourself, or enlisting the help of an agency or consultant, everyone starts with the creative brief. It defines the scope of your project and will influence the decision you make in the end.

The creative process

Now you’re ready for creative brainstorming process. This process might look something like this.

1. Lists

  • Considering the brief, list adjectives that come to mind for this ‘thing’
  • Now list action words or verbs to describe what this ‘thing’ has to offer
  • What other word associations come to mind? List them.

2. Play

  • Make columns or pages for each of the 5 naming strategy types: descriptive, suggestive, playful, arbitrary, wordplay. For each category, combine your words and phrases from your first three lists and create naming ideas that fit that concept. Don’t judge your ideas. Write down anything, even if it sounds off. Be crazy. Think of opposites. Follow any word association that comes to mind. Write it down. Try to create quantity here, not quality. You can do this as a group or alone. You can assign the same exercise to several people and then compare lists, to arrive at new combinations. Remember, it takes a whole bunch of bad ideas to arrive at a really good idea. And your first handful of ideas are probably not very original and should be thrown out anyway. Keep going.
  • Go back to your creative brief. Look at your competitors. Look at market trends. Does this spark any new ideas? Add them to your ideas by category.

3. Review

  • OK. NOW you can put your judging cap on. Review all your ideas and eliminate any that simply won’t work. Narrow your favorites down to 3–5 of your best options. Put those on a new list by themselves. Now STOP.

4. Rest

  • It may sound crazy but the creative process is a little like that philosophy about never sending an email when you’re angry. You draft it and get all your angst out on the page. Then you sleep on it. You give it some distance; let it settle. When you come back to that email you likely have a whole new perspective on the matter and you might choose to revise the message and send it, or to not send it at all. I’m not saying you may decide to scrap your whole naming project, but I wholeheartedly believe in the creative subconscious, and the power of a fresh perspective. Come back the next day or next week and review your ideas again.
  • Don’t forget the value of input and feedback from others. (Just be careful they fit the demographic you are targeting as that can sometimes throw you in a wrong direction if your target is very specific.) If others have performed the brainstorm, add all their favorites to one list and review them together.
  • You may repeat steps 1–3 in various forms as many times as you like, depending on the project or you may move on to step 5.

5. Choose

  • Now it’s time to choose. Review the creative brief again to refresh your mind about the focus of your project. Now, which of the favorites best hits the mark? Are there tweaks you can make to them? Are there new ideas you didn’t think of before? Are you done or do you still have work to do? Only you will know at this point. You can revisit your entire list and work through the exercise some more, continue to get input and ideas from others or reach a conclusion and move on.

That’s it. You’ve taken the creative naming strategy journey and hopefully you have a new name for your ‘thing.’ Congratulations. You’ve successfully added some zing to your thing.

Download your complete do-it-yourself ‘say it with zing’ Naming Strategy Worksheet now. It’s free and easy… 
(See what I did there? That’s cream-of-the-crop copy magic for you.) Seriously, get the worksheet and you’ll be naming that thing in no time.

Rather turn to an expert than do the work yourself? Yay, that’s me! 
Give me a shout, ping, ring or… you get the idea.