The Name Game

about us paragraph

about us paragraphPicking a name, whether for a new baby, pet or blog post can be intimidating. But when it comes to naming an organization or initiative it can be an overwhelming task. Before settling on a name, do some due diligence.

Let me start off by sharing a few branding and naming personal pet peeves:

  • Name and/or tagline that is arbitrary, lacks meaning, is overly clever or “too insider”. Mudpie is a store that monograms nearly anything. They have really cute stuff but the name certainly doesn’t tell you about that. I’m not sure if they have a tagline, their website doesn’t. The name/tagline should give some indication as to what the organization, initiative, etc. does.
  • Over reaching. OneHope.org is the Purina dog food’s non-profit arm. If your one hope in life is dog-related, you either have a very nice life or are delusional.

Where to Begin

Start by creating list of words that describe what your organization/initiative does. Then create a list of categories to help filter what words work best (remember the 5 Ws—Who, What, Where, When, Why). Categories could include:

1. Who will benefit—does your organization help moms or homeless; children or families?

2. What does your organization/initiative do—pass out food or blankets, arrange legal counsel, teach adults to read?

3. Where do you operate (geographic region)—is your organization global or country-specific; city-wide or a neighborhood collaborative?

4. When will you operate—year round or quarterly; annually or one time only?

5. Why is your organization/initiative important/needed—will people go hungry or sit at home bored; gain literacy or clean up a park?

With your list of words now categorized by the Ws, you are on your way to an organization/initiative/business name and a tagline to support/describe what you do. While you may not use any of these words, these words should bring focus to selecting the perfect name.

Some basic rules for creating an organization name:

1. If your name does not express what you do, then the tagline must or vice versa. The name and tagline do not need to work independently of each other but one should support the other to build a strong understanding of what the organization/initiative/business is or does.

2. Once you settle on a few name choices, Google them. Are there similarly named organizations that already exist? Do they do the same thing? If there are similarly named organizations that do similar things, then it’s best to scrap that name. Selecting a name that is similar to another organization with a similar function will cause brand confusion.

3. After Google-ing a few names, check to see if the domain is available (.com, .net, .org, etc.). If one domain is unavailable (.com for example), check to see what is at that web address. Is it a placeholder site or a similar organization? If it is a placeholder site, the person who owns the domain address is likely waiting for someone to purchase the domain from them at a premium price.

4. Now that you have narrowed down your name, know that there are no similar organizations with a similar name and your preferred domain is available, I recommend purchasing all domains that are available. By purchasing .com, .net and.org, you are preventing a similar organization from using the same name and creating future brand confusion.

Do you have any other naming guidelines? How did you come up with your name?

 

About Jocelyn Broder

Jocelyn Broder is vice president at Robin Tracy Public Relations. She has managed the communications efforts of one of the world’s most recognized brands–Coca-Cola–and launched turn-key communications initiatives for some of the world’s most respected ministries, non-profit organizations, authors and publishers (including two book campaigns that made all four national best-seller lists). Before finding her love for PR, Jocelyn was a writer at The Oregonian, a top 25 newspaper.

(Image Credit: “Hello My Name Is…” by Alan O’Rourke / Flickr)

5 Comments

  1. The website I linked above is the site I created for one of my classes. I plan to continue using it for my boyfriends out of the garage training class. He teaches Jiu-Jitsu and other types of martial art. We are a really small group and just started training last week. We titled the website jitsface since it is in your face so to speak Jiu-Jitsu. Plus we felt it would be clever enough to bring in the niche market we are looking for. The gym’s name is Sandagym and it appears on the main page with our logo. I certainly I want to get rid of the cloudaccess part of our website name but what would you say of jitsface? It is intended to attract local people who are looking for a small time gym and get more personalized lessons for cheap. Plus we post videos containing “the move of the week” as we titled it. Plus he writes up a short discriptor of the move for the main page and I take a picture of students using the move to go with the words. Down below we tag a link to our youtube channel and specific move for that post. Are these sections titles equally as important? I feel like our site is sort of a web meets blog atmosphere because there are lots of menu options but it all relates to what Brian (the instructor) is trying to teach. We’re not looking for national attention but just in our names and titles are we heading in a good direction or should we consider a name change?

  2. Branding is a huge part of a business or organization. Since it takes so much marketing or public relations to be recognized by the public branding can truly make or break your business. I have a blog that I recently created for one of my communication classes. I spent a long time trying to come up with the best name because I planned on using this during the class and after to display my skills as public relations professional. I tried to think of different possibilities and weigh the pros and cons of each name that I considered. The name I ended up using was PRpeople. I thought that this name had everything I needed in it. It is a place where I will discuss PR and gather with peers. I hope I have chosen right and will receive traffic to my blog.

  3. These tips are very helpful. A good name that conveys the purpose of a brand is crucial for success. The name is the base from which you build upon all your branding and advertising. I especially appreciate your tip to buy up all the website domains for your brand name to avoid possible confusion in the future.

  4. I complete agree name is everything. I feel sometimes it is good being unique and different but sometime its good to a a simple name. I think its also important that people understand what your blog is about way before even reading anything on your blog. That why the tag line is so important. i think the tag line should be interesting that capture reader attention to want to continue looking around your blog. Brand is everything i’ve learn if something is working don’t change what is not broken. i did that servile time started new blogs new names hope to find success again. i agree we should invest in buying a domain when i become financial. overall great insightful blog!

  5. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a good name. Often times it is overlooked, thinking that more serious things like the numbers and how the business will run will determine how the business does. Even though all of those things are important, the power of a good name is endless and can make or break a business. I had never thought of thinking about the availability of urls for the name, and that is definitely a big part of how much branding and exposure the business gets. I agree that its not only about being creative, but being witty enough to know what will get the most exposure while still being unique.

    Fernanda Langa
    Freeman School of Business
    Tulane University

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