Pro & Content
Tuesday, February 9, 2016 VOLUME 2 ISSUE 8  
What's In a Name

This month, Dave Fish interviews Andrea Naddaff, VP Business Development and Partner with Corey McPherson Nash about naming. Naming can be a fun process, as well as an arduous one. Listen in for tips on how to name products, brands, services and more. Naddaff also provides some insight into the trickiness of naming online entities.

You can listen to the interview by clicking on the podcast icon above or you can read the transcript by clicking the link below.

FISH: This is Dave Fish, CEO at IMN, and I'm here today with Andrea Naddaff, who is a partner at Corey McPherson Nash.†Theyíre an agency that, among other things, specializes in naming things, so weíre going to talk to Andrea today about whatís in a name, specifically whatís in a digital name.†So, welcome, Andrea.

NADDAFF: Oh, thank you, Dave.

FISH: Hey, well, many of our subscribers in the audience here are in the business of doing marketing, and, obviously, naming things like e-communications, and occasionally they get to name companies and products, as well.†Perhaps we could kick it off with some naming basics that you might have in mind for these guys.

NADDAFF: Absolutely.†One of the first things that one happens to remember is where does a name fit in the overall brand of your company, your product, your service?†So, in fact, when you are looking at a name, you have to look at the overall brand, and a brand is comprised of two components -- the physical, which is the name, the tag line, you logo and your color, and then the mental components, which are the attributes, the personality, the values that one thinks of when they think of your product or service.

FISH: Yup.

NADDAFF: So, oftentimes, when youíre thinking about naming, you really have to think about what the brand promise, position and personality is.†So, if you are going to be a contemporary, or very exciting brand, your name can afford to be unfamiliar or an invented name.†But, if youíre going to be very traditional and you need some gravitas with your brand, then youíd better go in a direction thatís much more descriptive and familiar.

FISH: So thatís interesting.†A lot of people, I think, tend to think that names should always be abstract, and youíre saying, hey, no, no, no.†It depends on the brand context.

NADDAFF: Thatís absolutely right.

FISH: Got it.

NADDAFF: So, for example, letís just take financial services.

FISH: Sure.

NADDAFF: And absolutely, thereís a part of financial services that is very traditional, very conservative.†The market is that, the audience is that, and you want the users and the visitors to really have a sense of longevity, of trust, of safety.†So the name has to say all those things, and you canít have a sort of ephemeral, flitty sounding name.

FISH: Sure. Some staying power there is what we want.†

NADDAFF: Thatís absolutely right -- durability.

FISH: Sure.†Got it.†So what other things do you consider as you go about the naming process?

NADDAFF: Well, you want to spend some time thinking about the overall brand, and also thinking about the path that your product or service will take.†And what I mean by that is this a one-time product or service, or is this service going to grow into other offerings?†Because then that would dictate that the name. You really should develop a nomenclature system.†Good examples of that are Federal Express. So youíve got Federal Express Ground, Federal Express Overnight, Federal Express Home Delivery, Federal Express Critical Care.

FISH: Got it.

NADDAFF: Thatís a branded house, or a house of brands, which is a traditional Procter & Gamble model.†


NADDAFF: So, itís Tide, or Listerine or Dentyne, where their products donít have any relationship.†So you also really need to think about where this product is going to live and how itís going to evolve.†After youíve done kind of your business sense, you look at general name criteria, and there are universally recognized name criteria, which is that a name has to be short, one to two words or four syllables.†It has to be memorable, and thatís kind of a gut check.†You hear it and you immediately remember it and it stays with you.†Positive associations, the name has to conjure up good feelings and good vibes in the minds of its audience.†Itís got to be either descriptive or evocative.†Clearly differentiable, so it sets you apart from your competitors in a good way.†Obviously, it must be ownable and trademarkable.†Another thing that you need to consider is it going to translate cross-culturally?

FISH: Sure, yeah.†Thatís an important thing in this increasingly global internet that we live in, isnít it?

NADDAFF: Thatís right.†And thatís also where you need to also take another look at positive associations because, for example, if you name something with a color in it, colors mean different things in different cultures.

FISH: Cultures, yeah, sure.

NADDAFF: As do numbers.

FISH: Got it.†Hey, do you have any examples of how different forums or channels influence the kind of name you tend to generate?

NADDAFF: Well, sure.†When you are looking to do a name that is specifically going to live on the internet, and itís really going to either exist in a directory and itís not going to be accompanied by a graphic treatment or a designed typeface, the name has to work much harder, and it has to be -- almost a really good combination of being both descriptive and evocative.†You know, I think that, for example, Trip Advisor is a very good representation of that.

FISH: Got you.

NADDAFF: Itís a descriptive name, itís a travel site that offers advice and service, but itís catchy enough so that folks want to find out more about it.

FISH: Yeah.†And itís certainly short, as you recommend.


FISH: Got it.

NADDAFF: And you get it.†So a name, I think, has to work much harder online.

FISH: Online, yeah.

NADDAFF: The other thing thatís very interesting is that there was this trend of neological namesÖ

FISH: Neological, what does that mean?

NADDAFF: Yeah invented.

FISH: Invented, OK.

NADDAFF: Invented names, literally.†

FISH: Got it.

NADDAFF: So there was this trend, kind of Y2K timeline.

FISH: Yeah.

NADDAFF: And a really good example of that is Accenture, right?

FISH: Sure.

NADDAFF: So, but whatís interesting about that is that Accenture invested a lot of money educating the marketplace about what the name meant.†So now, everybody is very familiar with what it was, but when it first launched, there was a lot of time and investment in educating that, and I think these days, clearly, thereís not that, you know, those dollars available.†

FISH: Sure.

NADDAFF: So thatís another thing that you need to think about, how much youíre going to invest in promoting the name.

FISH: So thatís really a consideration if youíre just launching a specific e-communication, perhaps a newsletter, where the budgets for branding and naming and what not may be more modest.

NADDAFF: If anything.

FISH: Yeah.

NADDAFF: And I think the other thing, just talking about that, is, you have to be much more mindful of the clutter in the competitive landscape so, another example of how your name has to work harder.

FISH: Indeed.†How about some basic tips?†For example, are there any power letters, or letters that you should stay away from, or that sort of thing?

NADDAFF: Yeah.†Thereís been a lot of research, and there are about 30 naming platforms that have been identified.

FISH: 30, OK.


FISH: Yeah.

NADDAFF: And a lot of them you know about without really knowing about. You know, things like seasons, or colors, or mythology, or numbers or acronyms.†

FISH: So we can think of platforms as almost a thematic basis for generating the name, in a sense?

NADDAFF: That is correct.


NADDAFF: So after you figure out what your brand personality is and how your name is going to reflect that personality and speak to your audience, then you develop criteria for your name, and how your name is going to fit within the overall context of what your offering is and what your competitorís offer is.†You then look at some platforms that help inform all of your ideation.†So, one of them that you mentioned earlier is this whole concept of power letters.†And thereís been a lot of research that has been done that shows how company names that have certain power letters in them are very successful the good old blue chip companies.†And the power letters now are K, X and Z.


NADDAFF: So, you can think of Xerox.†You can think of American Express.†And then they have this other category thatís called the up-and-coming power letters, like Y.

FISH: OK.†So when you say power letter, it isnít necessary that the name begins with the power letter, but itís featured prominently in the context of the name somewhere.

NADDAFF: Exactly. The other thing that you brought up, which is a very good point, is that thereís also a big philosophy that names that begin with the letter A are also very successful.†So thereís a lot of folklore to that as well.

FISH: Thatís true.†I mean, it surely gets you listed at the top of various directories and listings and that sort of thing.†Do you think thereís merit in that idea?

NADDAFF: I do, and I think if you look at eye tracking studies, too you see things that are listed alphabetically, it always starts at kind of the top left, which is where the As start.

FISH: Talk a little bit about best practices when it comes to the process of naming.


FISH: Thoughts on that.†

NADDAFF: I think whatís interesting, and particularly with your audience, is that naming is very difficult because, as much as you try to make it objective and ground it in strategy, people react subjectively.

FISH: Sure.

NADDAFF: So itís very important to balance the line between building consensus and having it fit criteria and not give in to the, oh, I donít like that sound, or, oh, I donít like that letter.†There is always an expectation that I'm going to hit that name, I'm going to get it.†This is it.†I've hit the jackpot.†Thereís never an Ah-ha or a Eureka. What you like next week, what you like today, you will not like next week.†What you think is hopeful after one meeting turned out to be in the recycle pile the next meeting.†So you also have to live with the name.

FISH: Sure, try it on for size for a little while, so to speak.

NADDAFF: Yeah, and see if it sticks.

FISH: Well, this is great.†Any other thoughts as part of wrapping up here?

NADDAFF: Yeah.†I think that naming is really fun.†I think that naming can be very difficult and I think it becomes increasingly hard when you are naming online because there are a lot of domain names that are taken. You have to take into consideration all of the others: the dot com, the dot net, the dot this and, again, how much cache that adds to your name.

FISH: Well, thank you very much.†This has been Andrea Naddaff, who is a partner at Corey McPherson Nash.†Andrea, whatís your website, in case people want to surf a little bit and learn more about you?

NADDAFF: Sure.†Itís

FISH: Very good.†Well, thank you very much.

NADDAFF: Thank you, Dave.

Andrea Naddaff
Partner, Vice President Business Development
Corey McPherson Nash

Andrea joined CMN in 1997.†She brings to the studio her extensive experience in marketing and business development services for a variety of creative industries including graphic design, packaging design, industrial design, interior design, architectural design and advertising.†

Andrea introduces CMNís capabilities to prospective clients and liaises with the client and the CMN team to strategize and develop thoughtful solutions to communications challenges.†She also directs the studioís corporate marketing and public relations functions.†

Andreaís industry experience includes participation on the Massachusetts Multimedia Interactive Councilís (MIMC) leadership award committee and serving as a juror for the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) design award competition. Some of her speaking engagements have included the CASE District I and II Conference, the Center for Women and Enterprise, and the Simmons MBA program.†She is a member of the American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA), MITX and the Boston Idea Club, and is an officer of the Mount Holyoke Club of the Western Suburbs.

Andrea holds a MS in communications from Simmons College and a BA in psychology from Mount Holyoke College.†


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In the News
Survey Results

Have you ever been involved in naming a company, product or service?

Yes, on a number of occasions.

Yes, but infrequently.

No, this is not something I have ever done.

In a naming exercise, how have you gone about coming up with a name?

Fairly informal; just picked a name that sounded good

Utilized a process to identify a name that met specific criteria

Employed a branding firm to inform and guide the process

A little of each, depending on the importance of the name

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in the process of naming?

Keeping it objective and grounded in strategy

Balancing the line between building consensus and giving into subjective opinions

Knowing when you've gotten there without an ah-ha or Eureka moment

Finding a name that meets your criteria and then finding the domain name is taken or it is already trademarked

All of the above


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