Name is Destiny

The name of a company or product is arguably the most important decision ever made about its success, and survival. A bad logo won’t kill a good name, but a bad name is a burden, and no amount of great design can fix it.

Business is too competitive to tolerate the disadvantages of a bad name. If you need a new name for a startup or product, it should be extraordinary. If your current name could be hurting your business or leaving you more vulnerable to competitors, it’s time for a name reboot. A new logo can’t fix that problem.

That is why we do renaming, as well as naming. Designing a great logo for a poor name is gilding a turd. We can do it, and we have done it, but we always regret it.

How do you know when a name is a drag on business? Brutal honesty paired with common sense is a good place to start. That may sound easy, but it’s not if you’re consulting employees and colleagues who tell you what they think you want to hear. Start by doing a brief bad name check. A “yes” to any of the following is a clear sign to take action:

1. Is the name embarrassing or negative in any way? Does it have any unpleasant connotations?

2. Is the name difficult or confusing to pronounce? Do people stumble over it, and often get it wrong?

3. Is the name generic or boring? Sometimes a name seems perfectly fine until a competitor upstages it with a splashier one. Times change and names can become outdated.

4. Is the name too long?

Naming is process and poetry, reason and intuition. It’s creative and confounding, best done by people with expansive experiences and open minds who understand perspectives from all walks of life. Like us.

The name is the heart of the brand, so choosing the “right” name is usually agonizing. “Right” and “wrong” are rarely clear, because naming is not a science. Some scientific principles apply (from psychology and phonetics for example), but often, a great name is unexpected yet somehow inevitable.

Expect to take a leap of faith, because a great name comes with no guarantee. But then, being risk-averse is the greatest risk of all.