The Power Play of Name Evaluation
May 18, 2011 10:55 AM PT
There was a time when businesses names were simply picked out of a hat, literally, and often very successfully. Later, the complexity of the marketplace boosted the name lists to such huge quantities that they had to use larger drums. This is how most business names came about, and on that note, there are hundreds of articles relating to their grand successes and mega failures.
Today's biggest question of image expansion is not how and where you got your name, but rather if it is still producing orchestrated music by ringing cash registers -- or making choking sounds. Let's be honest. Is your name identity shooting straight like an arrow, or is it a dead horse being dragged by creative teams?
Name Evaluation Challenges
The rapid invention of global cyberbranding, and social and mobile media -- compounded by new gTLD platforms from ICANN -- has made the "name evaluation report" the most powerful play of rational argument during any image expansion strategy in any organization in the world. To name a few trends, the most common challenge is when the combination of two words compressed into a single name shoots an entirely different meaning and no longer projects the original double barrel theme.
When several words are forced into creating one highly condensed telescoped name, this creates a monstrosity that's understood only by its creators and not by the public at large. Management stays convinced that combining words into one is a great idea, while the customer has no idea of the creative force behind it and sees the oddity through an entirely different lens. If your name is emulating multiple perceptions, it will cut your sales and profits in equal multiples.
Organizations are simply not aware that an extra letter added or chopped off from their name may already have shifted the force of the desired message into some unknown confused meaning, turning customers off.
Organizations only see their name identity surrounded by a full blown graphics package. In reality, most names came across naked. Stripped of all the fancy dressing, they pop up either in conversations or on the Internet where they look and sound very different in the rhythm of the language, often losing their desired meaning and perceptions.
Higher costs of customer acquisition are forcing businesses to discover both the obvious and the hidden messages in styles and mixed personalities embedded in the alpha-structures of their names. After all, when a name is supposed to act as an important umbrella, it must clearly project, attract and sell -- otherwise names become the destroyer of good projects.
Startups always use up most of their initial funding in an aggressive launch but get shocked when their name identity fails to connect with potential buyers.
When an international mandate erupts into foreign-sounding names by desire or by accident, the name expansion often becomes a major embarrassment, depending on the markets and goals. Organizations using a single name -- or dozens -- must streamline their portfolio based on sound analysis. Are there too few or too many names? Are they helping or destroying each other's turf?
Name Evaluation Benefits
If business expansion and image visibility are your goals, then you have to be very bold to face the real name evaluation. A name evaluation report will expose the secret messages of love, hate or profanity your name identity may be emulating. Always drive your campaigns based on the true profile, and with full awareness of the hidden meanings of your name -- or else your campaigns are a shot in the dark.
You obviously started out by selecting the best name with the best intentions, and it may have worked wonders in the past -- but with intense, shifting trends, the best of the best names lose their power. Meanings are washed aside by new perceptions, new values and trends, under the impact of new technologies.
Without a solid name identity, you have no real brand. Without a far-reaching cyberpresence, you may be out of e-commerce dynamics. Without absolute 100 percent name ownership, you are not in the image-building game on a grand scale. You must attempt to have all such uncertainties fully resolved.
List all the names currently in use and measure all the direct and indirect marketing and advertising costs as you begin an internal audit to address your naming architecture.
Open a bold discussion, and seek out non-biased professional name evaluation with authoritative analysis and solid recommendations. Do not confuse this with a typical rebranding exercise, as this one is all about the black-and-white issues of global corporate nomenclature and not the logos and graphics.
Advertising and branding services can introduce such name evaluation reports to their clients and energize their image strategy based on factual and third- party evaluations. The more the clients know about their name problems, the more they will be open to embrace changes on the corporate image front.
These power-play name evaluation reports clarify lingering opinions or emotionally charged colloquial expressions stemming from historical attachments. These issues often prohibit the corporate culture from constructive and logical discussion about the core of the naming problems and their impact on image expansion plans.
A name evaluation report places the teams on the right track and provides the high-level rationale required for solid decisions. Therefore, the sooner you know the real truth behind your business names, the better.