Need help with your brand? — Claim your free discovery session with Arek

Brand Naming Process

with
Rob Meyerson
The Most Practical Guide To Brand Strategy

Table of Contents

  1. Naming Brief
  2. Generating Name Ideas
  3. Shortlisting Name Candidates
  4. Preliminary Trademark Screening
  5. Naming Presentation
  6. Full Legal Screening
  7. Final Name Selection

1. Naming Brief

Arek Dvornechuck:
What's up branding experts! — Arek here at Ebaqdesign. And welcome to On Branding Podcast - The only podcast where I interview branding experts to give you actionable tips on everything branding and beyond! In this episode, I interview Rob Meyerson and we talk about brand naming process, and Rob is a Brand Strategist and Founder of Heirloom which is an independent brand strategy and identity firm. And prior to launching his own firm, Rob was a Global Head of Brand Architecture and naming at HP (Hewlett-Packard), and he also held Strategy Director Roles at several leading international brand consulting firms. So, Rob has written about brand strategy and brand naming for leading publications: such as TechCrunch, Business Insider, The Guardian, Venture Beat and Branding Strategy Insider. And Rob also hosts How Brands are Built which is a popular branding podcast and blog. So, basically Rob is a strategist with a strong focus on brand naming, that's why I really wanted to have him on our podcast to talk about brand naming process. Hello Rob! Thank you so much for taking the time to join us in our podcast.

Rob Meyerson:
Thanks for having me.

Arek Dvornechuck:
So, you work on the first naming project at Inter-Brand, and it was about 15 years ago. So, since then you've had a behind-the-scenes view of the naming process at well over a dozen agencies. So, based on all those naming projects that you've worked on, you've developed your seven-step naming process, right? So, I just wanted to make this podcast actionable for our listeners and ask you to just give us some overview of your process and perhaps some of your thoughts, and you can share maybe some of your tips on how to approach brand naming like a pro. So, starting with the naming brief, because on your blog and on your podcast you often talk about the importance of creating a naming brief, right? So, you say that the single biggest problem with naming is; decision makers, who are not involved in the process - meaning that if you work with everybody else but not the busy CEO or Founder who is often the ultimate decision maker then what often times happens is you present the work and all you hear is ‘no’ to all of your great ideas. So, there was no agreement on what we are looking for in a name so it becomes very subjective and this is because they were not involved in the process from the beginning, right? So, can you speak to that a bit, what's the goal of creating a naming brief and why it's so important?

Rob Meyerson:
Sure, yeah I’ll start with a couple of things, the process that I outline, you said that I’ve come up with it, I guess I’d say that I have really just documented what I think is kind of standard operating procedure having seen it and done it at all these different agencies, and in-house. Different agencies and different naming professionals might have slightly different paths that they take to that final name, but by and large these are the steps that that you kind of need to go through in order to really do what I consider a full naming process, and it does start with that naming brief. And again, that can differ widely depending on the situation, there's a lot of naming advice out there and a lot of good naming advice out there. A lot of it is geared toward small businesses, or even entrepreneurs that are one-person operations and of course naming in that environment is quite a bit different than in a large enterprise where you have layers in a hierarchical organization of people that need to look at a name and approve it before it goes out. And so, that naming brief can range, therefore, from a few emails between you and your co-founders of; what do we want this name to be all about and let's just get on the same page, to a really formal document. And in those larger organizations, it's typically a more formal document that requires some approvals before you even start coming up with name ideas and I do think it is really critical for a couple of reasons - really just two reasons. One is it puts everyone on the record saying this is what we want the name to be about and that way when you start coming up with name ideas or even if you hire somebody else to start coming up with name ideas, they know what they're trying to do. They have some idea of what you're looking for in the name, what's inbound, what's out of bounds, even documenting what are our competitors using as names for similar things so that we don't look like a copycat or get into legal trouble, getting all that sorted is really important. So, that's at the beginning of the process, and then on the tail end of the process when you're just trying to make a decision; say everything's gone smoothly and you've narrowed it down to your top three ideas, the brief again can become really useful at that point to just take yourselves back to the beginning, you know what did we say we wanted this name to be about, and try to make more of an objective decision about which name really hits the target of that brief as defined in that brief, and not just like you said, a subjective decision of well my favorite is this one or something like that.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right, so the takeaway just for our listeners would be to; as you said, the naming brief can vary from if it's a small business it might be just some emails between you and the founders, if it's a larger organization it's more formal. But anyways, you need to align the team or you and whoever is the decision maker on the same vision basically; on what the name should express and have them approve the brief before you move into the brainstorming session. Because we need those objective criteria and this is going to allow us to judge those naming ideas.

Rob Meyerson:
Yeah exactly, I left that part out, but yes, getting approval, getting a review and approval and everyone to agree on the brief, and make sure that they really read it and think about it and discuss it and don't just kind of say; sure and go ahead. Because you sort of alluded to a quote that I use a lot from Clive Schaefer - a great professional Name who I’ve worked with quite a bit, who says that the single biggest problem with naming projects in the naming process is when you fail to get that sign off and approval at the beginning and it's because if there's some senior decision maker or even just someone who's going to have veto power over the name and they haven't been involved at all, you may be completely off course and coming up with name ideas that just do not at all fit what they want the name to be about, there's also a little bit of psychology involved here, there's a lot of psychology involved in naming. But getting people involved at the beginning also sort of forces them to have a little bit of skin in the game. It also, when they are looking at the ideas they may see a little bit of their own thinking in those ideas, and as much as you'd like to think that this doesn't influence people, they're much more likely to approve or sort of like an idea if they feel like they played a hand in helping to create it. And so, you want to involve them at the beginning so that they feel like they played a role, otherwise it's really easy to look at a list of names that somebody else came up with and just sort of think to yourself; well I could have done better, because you weren't involved in the process and so you don't know how much work went into all those ideas.

2. Generating Name Ideas

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right, yes it definitely makes sense. So, if they are involved in the process, it's just hard for them to disagree because you can point out; hey, you approve that but if you remember we agreed on those criteria… so, okay so once we have the naming brief ready and approved, and we have some clarity on what we are looking for in a name, then the next step would be to generate name ideas, right? So, with that we can jump into Brainstorming which is the fun part and start generating those name ideas. So, in your naming guide you say quote “There is no right way to generate name ideas, but there are best practices and rules of camp” so I just wanted to talk about those best practices and perhaps you can share with us some tips on how experts approach name generation. So, for example, you talk about you know running multiple sessions to maximize the outcome and going for quantity first, and coming up with hundreds of ideas and you really emphasize on using the master list template - which is a spreadsheet and is available and it's a great tool and I recommend everyone to go on your website ‘Howbrandsarebuilt.com’ and it's available for free. And I think it's a great tool. So, this allows us to keep things organized because ideas can come from different places, so we need to put them in one single document and then track the progress. So, can you speak to that a bit?

Rob Meyerson:
Right, there are couple of best practices like you just mentioned one, it seems obvious I guess but just write everything down, have a centralized location, especially if you have lots of people coming up with ideas. I know that sometimes it can just be teams emailing; what about this idea, what about that idea, and those email threads can get really messy and all of a sudden you sort of lose track of all the ideas. So, having a person dedicated to documenting it all or a single shared document where you're putting all of those ideas is critical. And like you said, that the sheet that I make available for free has some columns in there for sort of other data that I recommend collecting as you're just writing down all those name ideas. I heard your episode with Alexandra Watkins and a lot of her advice is great and I don't want to repeat it but there's sort of this no bad idea philosophy that I think you need to have; whether you're we're all familiar with that in a group setting but even if you're just naming on your own, and I do think a lot of naming should be done individually even if you're breaking apart and coming back together as a group and looking at what you've all come up with individually. You got to write everything down, because something that you think is a bad idea may spark something for somebody else or may give you an idea of something to look into that then helps you find that name. So, that's another best practice. I think there are all kinds of different ways to come up with name ideas and I generally take a more the merrier approach to sort of coming up with ideas. I guess another thing that's a bit counter-intuitive to people who haven't done this before is that, you do want to go for quantity first. Of course, we're concerned with quality you know we want the best ideas, but you're also almost always going to have to come up with way, way more names than you would think in order to find those best ideas, and that's partly just because of the way I think our brain works - the more you kind of dig into this the more you think about it, the more time you spend thinking about it the more really interesting ideas start to pop up. Another great name that I’ve interviewed on the podcast - Amanda Peterson said something about the first 200 ideas that anybody has for the name of something, those are usually the sort of expected ideas and they're all “wrong” and so you have to kind of get over that hump of just, like, what are the obvious ideas and then you get into the really interesting one. So, you need to come up with a bunch of different ideas. Another reason for that of course is legal availability which is a huge aspect of naming, not to mention domain availability and other sort of types of little logistical hurdles that these names need to go through. Once you start ruling things out you'll be really glad that you have 500 ideas and not just six because chances are all six of those will be ruled out for some reason.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right, there are so many businesses, so many brands created every day, and it's really hard to come up with something that is available because you're going to come up with everybody is creative and we have great ideas but most of those probably are going not going to be available. So, let's talk about a bit about the brainstorming process, right. So, since we know more or less how to do it, we can do it by ourselves on our own or with a team. So, we go for quantity right, we use the spreadsheet, we keep things organized. So, basically what we do is, we just have the brief at hand and we pull some keywords from that brief and we just take it from there, right? We create mind maps, we can use sticky notes, put them up on the wall or I’ll just use the spreadsheet and then once we exhausted those keywords from the naming brief and those are like those initial ideas then we go for synonyms metaphors and we just Google basically and browse into some directories Wikipedia dossiers and things like that, and organize those ideas into categories or teams, right?

Rob Meyerson:
Yeah, I think that's a really good start. It doesn't all have to be online. I do think there's a lot of usefulness in looking at reference books and getting your eyes off the screen. Even just even just because a dictionary a paper dictionary is the best way to find a list of words in order, you know that's actually sort of hard to find online, it's easy to look words up but if you just want to see a bunch of words that start with a series of letters, you can look at a dictionary, there's ways to do that online as well. But yeah, looking for just different angles from which to approach the puzzle as it's been laid out in the brief. The brief should have a few what I call jumping off points, a word, or a handful of words that you think could be in the name, or could contain ideas that you want to get into the name, and the easy stuff is just looking at thesaurus.com and thinking of other ways of saying those, but eventually you should be getting into lists of terminology that have to do with something associated with one of those words or something like that. And the only other thing I’d say is, don't try to do it all in one sitting. A lot of where your great ideas will come from is from kind of dwelling on it over a series of days potentially, so sleeping on it, you know making sure that you're going out into the world and just giving yourself a chance to get inspired by something that you see or something that you read or a conversation that you have as your brain is in the background working on this problem is really useful. And so, if you have the time to spend a week thinking about this kind of on and off, you'll find that a lot of interesting ideas will pop up. You know, you'll be sitting at dinner and all of a sudden you'll think; oh that's another way I could have thought about that, and then when you get back to your computer you can dig into that by Googling or whatever else you need to do online to kind of fully examine and probe that one way of thinking about the name idea.

(Now, we are going to take a quick break here but we will be right back. Listen! My mission is to help people design iconic brands; so whether you're a business leader who wants to be more intentional with branding and all of its aspects, or you are a creative who wants to attract powerful clients and truly be able to help them with branding, then you need to start with a discovery session and then develop a strategy that will inform all your creative work. And everything you need to learn how to do that, you can find in my online courses at ebaqdesign.com/shop; where I share with you my worksheets, case studies, video tutorials and other additional resources to help you feel safe and strong about your process. And now let's get back to our conversation with Rob Meyerson)

Arek Dvornechuck:
Yeah, that's a really great tip. I think it's similar to for example designing logos is just going to take time, and you mentioned that in your guide as well to take a break, socialize, exercise. And while taking break also being ready to write those ideas down as they pop up, right? And some of the techniques also for name generation, so for example you talk about mix and match words so to create like compound names, combining with prefixes and suffixes, ordering spelling, you know changing letters, perhaps you know using other languages - words from other languages, looking for rhymes, and idioms, quotes, songs, movies, other shows, books, podcasts, and things like that. Is there anything I’m missing that you think is a really a great way of coming up with ideas?

Rob Meyerson:
Yeah, I think everything you mentioned and of course it depends on the brief you know some of those ideas are only going to make sense for certain projects, and a lot of names that rely on a suffix, like, the ‘ly’ names or names that end in ‘ify’, like Spotify, you know those are trends that in most cases you probably want to actively avoid rather than spending a bunch of time exploring that. But there are times that you want to at least try something like that just to see again if something really interesting pops up. The one thing you didn't mention that I think is… well two things that are really kind of interesting that you can do that I’ve mentioned. One is going on a field trip. So, if you're naming something related to farm equipment then make sure you take the time to try to get out to a farm or even just a store that sells tractors or something and allow yourself to immerse in that environment and see if something interesting comes up. Another idea that works better if you have a team doing naming is to kind of try to name something else instead of what you're. So, think of the problem as if you're naming something else. So, if you're trying to name a microchip that is very fast, that allows computers to run really quickly, and so speed is something that you're trying to convey, then it might be useful to go to a store that sells running shoes and just pretend you're naming a shoe that makes you run really fast and see if that allows you to come up with really interesting creative ideas that you wouldn't have come up with had you just sort of had your brain been kind of on this one track microchip, microchip lane of this is what we're trying to name. If you can free yourself up to think about it differently then that sometimes can give rise to really interesting ideas.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right, so it's kind of like lateral thinking instead of just linear thinking.

Rob Meyerson:
Yeah, I’ve heard it called obscuring the brief. There's other terminology for it. You know at larger agencies sometimes they will literally lie to some of the naming team and say; you guys are naming a shoe, it makes people run faster, come up with ideas for that, and then only later will they find out actually you were this whole time you were working on a microchip but you came up with some great ideas and some of them will apply just as well, because you know a metaphor that applies to running fast will also work very well for a microchip that lets your computer run fast.

3. Shortlisting Name Candidates

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right, that's really interesting. Okay so, once we've exhausted our ideas and we have like hundreds of ideas, we have them in the spreadsheet and then next step would be to shortlist them, right? So, we basically need to narrow down the list and focus on the strongest candidates. So, what we do, we check them against the brief and we rate them or eliminate the weakest options. Can you speak to that a bit?

Rob Meyerson:
Yeah, I mean it is pretty much what it sounds like ‘just shortlisting’. I guess a couple of things that I would advise that might not be obvious. I think it's really, really important to do this with more than one person. So ideally there's more than one person involved in your naming process and so you can get two or three people in a room or on the phone looking at the full list together, and that's partly because when you're looking at a huge list of words it's really just hard to sort of notice all of them. You'll get into kind of robot mode and just start going down the list and you may miss something that somebody else will catch, or you just may not sort of catch on to why a name could be really interesting, so it's just useful to have people to bounce things off of; well why did you like that name and why didn't you think that one could work. So, that's one thing, another really cool idea that I’m going to steal here from Jonathan Bell who runs a great naming and branding firm called “Want”, he says that sometimes they will write some of their name ideas on individual index cards and put them on a table, now this is all pre-covid so we could all be in rooms together with the table. But to physically have the names represented as index cards and be able to kind of move them around and push them off the table when everyone agrees they shouldn't be on the list that's another thing that you can do to just kind of help do that shortlisting as a group. But ultimately you need to call that list from hundreds down to probably dozens to get into the next couple of steps which all are about screening and checking to make sure that you're only retaining names that are available or viable.

4. Preliminary Trademark Screening

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right, so once we start listed here the candidates to like you said a couple dozen, so this gets us closer to preliminary trademark screening. So, basically it means that we must search trademark databases like USPTO and here our goal is to look for identical or very similar marks in relevant classes, right? And we also can do like linguistic checks here, check for pronunciation issues, negative connotations or some existing brand associations or like in different languages and cultures, right? So, can you just walk us through this process?

Rob Meyerson:
Yeah, screening for both legal and linguistic on both sides is really critical. Whenever you hear these horror stories of names gone wrong it's almost always because those steps were omitted or done poorly, you know all the sort of… well, like, Chevy Nova is the famous story which actually isn't true I should say, but you know supposedly, it meant doesn't go in Spanish-speaking countries and so it didn't sell well. That's a made-up story but there are real stories like that where names were offensive in a country or in a culture and its fun to laugh at those. But it really does happen and it really can be expensive, not to mention embarrassing and require you to go back and rename something, and so to avoid that we want to do these screening steps. And I’ve written some articles that go kind of deep into each of these, but I guess high level. I think the mistake people make is they are a little over confident, you know if you're not a trademark attorney don't assume that you can easily figure out what's going to get you into hot water from a legal standpoint, you know you're a smart person and so you can do the work and sort of get a good idea of what's going to be a problem and what's not, but you got to do the work it's not just Google it and then sort of guess. You really need to understand a little bit about how trademark law works and what it means for something to present more or less risk. But ultimately, you also might just want to outsource that, and there are people who do preliminary trademark screening - not to mention of course professional trademark attorneys who can do much deeper searches and it's pretty cost effective and quick. So, honestly when I do naming, nine times out of ten I’m using a professional pre-screener for that legal step to just send them 45 names and he'll send back the 12 that he thinks are available or most likely to be safe to use. We have to be really careful with the language here because it gets into legal questions. And then similarly, for linguistics don't just ask your one Spanish-speaking friend if this name means something offensive. Spanish in Spain versus Spanish in Mexico, not to mention Spanish spoken by Americans in New York versus Spanish spoken by Americans in Los Angeles there's going to be totally different slang, different connotations of different words, and so again just don't be over confident, you can work with a translation firm or a professional like Sutton strategy. I interviewed Laurel Sutton on the podcast, or you know you can try to do it yourself. But again, get a little deeper than just the superficial; yeah my best friend speaks Spanish and she said it's okay so it should be fine.

5. Naming Presentation

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right, okay just to sum up for our listeners, this is really important step you shouldn't skip that, and you can do it yourself or you can hire a firm, and they exist for a reason because it might not be as easy as you think. It's not just about Googling. So, as you said, you yourself, you use 9.99 - 10 times you use professional film for that but you can do it yourself. So we are just looking for options that are less risky so we end up with some names that already are deemed as less risky, right? So, then the next step would be to present those names back to the decision makers, and at this point we have about maybe a dozen and then we present those and we try to get that at least down to about five or six a handful just because the next step after presentation would be you know full legal search and this can be a long process and very costly, so we just want to focus on those five or six best candidates. So, how to present then those names to decision makers, what are some of the best practices? So, for example, you say quote ‘getting a client or your own team to agree on a single brand name is 1% creativity and 99% psychology’ and this is something you already mentioned. So, can you just elaborate on that and what are some of the best practices of presenting names?

Rob Meyerson:
Yeah, so you know don't be fooled into thinking that these genius creative names that you've come up with are going to result in…you show it to the team and everyone gives you a round of applause and a standing ovation and instantly agrees that that's the best name. Unfortunately, it does not usually work like that, the name doesn't jump off the page or the PowerPoint slide and everyone agrees on it. There's a lot of psychology involved here. I mentioned earlier that you know there's sort of the not created here syndrome of well I didn't make up this name, and so I don't like it. And you mentioned logo design as well, I’m sure this is not that different. I suppose the one difference is that naming everybody in a business setting knows how to read and write and can put a string of ten letters together, and unlike design where people are a little more humble and they might say; well I could never make a logo like that, but certainly they would say well I can come up with words I can flip through with thesaurus. So, a couple of best practices - make sure you review the brief again to give everyone a reminder of what you're trying to do with the name, talk a little bit about the process, it's you know it can be tedious but just warm people up a little bit before you start just showing them names and certainly don't just send them a list over email or text it to them and say what do you think. You need to maybe teach or train them a little bit about how to evaluate names. It's very hard to look at names on a page or a PowerPoint slide and imagine that being a real brand out in the world. It's easiest to imagine it with something that sounds exactly like another brand out in the world, it's easy to imagine a new soda with a name that sounds a lot like Coca-Cola or Pepsi because we're so used to that, it's very hard to imagine a soda with a name like lavender or something that you've just never heard of a brand using that or soda brand using that word, it seems really weird, but of course in branding we want to be distinctive, we want to be different and so there's a little bit of a counter-intuitive thing. And so telling people how to think about names, and then showing the names in a little bit of a realistic mock-up, you don't have to design a logo for each name. I would never go that far, but you know if it is a soda then try to show it on a soda can so that people can make that mental leap of; oh yeah you know I could maybe see that on the shelf at the grocery store, or if it's a more corporate thing; I could see that on my business card and imagine going to a conference and saying ‘hi, I work for blank’ that will help them a little bit as well. And so, there's more to it than that but those are some of the most important kind of high notes of what you're trying to do when you're presenting names.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right, so you start with an overview, so the presentation just from technical standpoint you just use PowerPoint or keynote or Google slides, right? Yeah, so you start with an overview as you said, you talk about the process; what was the process, you talk about the brief, what we are naming, why we are naming that, what the name should convey, the tonality and so on, and then you quite a lot talk about priming the audience and what you just mentioned just now to make sure that the team understands how to approach this presentation. And one thing that you say quite a lot is that - it's easy to just think about in terms of like, do I like it but we shouldn't say that, we should rather think about whether it's going to work, right? It's similar to logos, they going to feel unfamiliar and just don't expect to fall in love with the name. As you said, you're not going to fall in love with that name immediately, its going to feel uncomfortable at the beginning, so you need to prepare your team for that and then you just present those name ideas one by one, so if you have a dozen you can create some more courage, but you wouldn't go as far as to actually design it, it would be just black and white basically. It’s just to focus on the name itself but it will allow us to just see those names in context, and then the summary would be just to show all the names on one slide to just discuss them. And one thing that you also talk about a lot quite a lot is to invite discussion after you show all the name ideas, can you just talk to us a bit about that?

Rob Meyerson:
Yeah, one of the things you're really trying to do in a naming presentation is avoid bias, avoid creating bias yourself, and avoid other people in the room biasing everybody else. And so you mentioned it thanks for reminding me, when you're showing the names one of the reasons you don't want to create a logo for each name is it would be too much work. But also it could just bias people. Subconsciously they might think they don't like the name but actually they don't like the color that you chose for it, and so keep it pretty consistent from slide to slide. And then at the end of the presentation, yes show all the names here the 12 that we just looked at, give them a few seconds to think, maybe check their notes that they might have taken. Because yes, I tell them to try to let me present everything before we start having a discussion on any one name, and that's also just partly you know timing and things like that. But with the summary up there, it's really important to not have somebody jump in and say; well I hate that idea. The second that happens, it sort of poisons the well, that idea becomes something that other people in the room might be embarrassed to then speak up for even if they were originally liking it, and again this is where psychology really comes in. So, I always invite people to I know there are some that maybe you think don't work, but let's focus on the ones that you like or…I try not to use that word like, but the ones that you think could work well that really hit the brief, even if there's just two or three or if you think there's you know 10 of them. Just list those out, talk a little bit about why you think they're working and we'll go around the whole room; metaphorically speaking and have everybody do that first and try to avoid any naysaying. And that way you're getting everyone's positive reactions first and they can think about other people's positive reactions and; oh I didn't think of that that's a good thing about that name that I hadn't really been drawn to. And then you have a discussion about which names are working the best and that's how you start to get it down to like you said that five or six that you might want to put into legal. Of course, you can always then then open up the discussion to; well you know three people said this name was working but I have a big problem with that and here's what it is, and you can get into that debate. But if that negative sentiment starts coming into the conversation too early, it can kind of drag the whole presentation down and make it hard to align on the few that you want to put into legal.

6. Full Legal Screening

Arek Dvornechuck:
Yeah, I can see that happening because similar things can happen with logo design presentations. So, okay so after the presentation, now at this point we should have about five to six names right, as I mentioned earlier. So, the one of the last steps would be to just do full legal screening and this is really important but it can take a long time and it can be costly too. So, even though you've gone through preliminary trademark spinning earlier in the process, you still need to hire a trademark attorney to perform a full legal search, right? So, can you just talk to us like how much it costs, how long it takes and where to find trademark authorities?

Rob Meyerson:
Sure, and this is you know, usually you would want to do this, it's really all… a lot of these steps are about your risk tolerance for the name. If you're naming your company and you plan on being in business for a long time and you're taking this seriously, then I recommend these steps I suppose there are occasions where maybe you just have a really high risk tolerance and if somebody contacts you and says that you're infringing my rights by using that name and I want you to stop. If you feel like oh that would be okay I would just stop if that happened, then maybe you don't need to do this step. But yeah, typically you want to get a professional trademark attorney - an experienced trademark attorney to look at any name before you put it out into the world and put all of the effort into building a brand around that name, because worst case scenario is you put years into building a brand and then realize you really never should have used that name and somebody else has the rights to it and you got to stop and start over. You know you can find trademark attorneys online and there are all kinds of services. One of the people I work with to do preliminary trademark screening is also a professional trademark attorney, her name's Angela Wilcox and runs Wilcox IP, she's great. Typically you're talking about hundreds of dollars maybe per name to do that deeper search, it can really range in terms of how long it takes from days to weeks. If you're inside of a large organization and you're using your in-house counsel to do it, then it depends on how busy they are, how many people they have dedicated to trademark or IP law if any. So, it really depends. One of the things I advise corporate clients to do is to start that conversation early, so reach out to their in-house counsel or outside counsel; if that's the case, and ask these questions, we're trying to name something, we're going to have some names in a couple of weeks that we're going to send you, how much will it cost, how long will it take any, thinking that they want to put into the process before you put all the effort into the naming.

7. Final Name Selection

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right, right, so basically that's it. So, we are left with we need to assess the risk associated with each name, so after that we are left with probably a couple of names and we just need to select the winner, right? So, we present them back to the decision makers and together we choose the final name with the lowest level of risk, right?

Rob Meyerson:
Probably, I mean it lawyers also are not going to tell you; you can't use these names and you can use those, it's usually not so black and white, they'll give you a sense of the degree of risk and sometimes you might want to choose one that's just a little bit riskier but that you think has a lot of other things going for it. So, you have to just balance everything and legal is a big thing to consider but it's not the only factor.

Arek Dvornechuck:
And just to our listeners, Rob has a lot of resources available on his website, so everything from naming brief templates to, as we mentioned, the master list template, the spreadsheet and also an in-depth guide to generating names and so on. So, I really encourage you to check out his website howbrandsarebuilt.com. So, as we are approaching the end of our interview, please let us know how we can find more about you and the work you do and how to connect with you and I’ll include those things in the description.

Rob Meyerson:
So, like you mentioned howbrandsarebuilt.com is the blog, and also if you look for the podcast of the same name you'll find that. I do make all those guides and templates available for free. I also have a lot of links to other people's naming guides, other agencies naming guides, and books that people have written about brand naming. This is the stuff that I’m interested in and I like reading and getting ideas from, so I try to make all that available and make some recommendations as well so you'll find a lot of that by going to the website and clicking ‘Resources’ in the upper right corner. I also run Heirloom - my own agency, I do brand strategy work and identity work, and you can find that at Heirloomagency.com and then for both Heirloom and How brands are Built, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, shouldn't be too hard to find if I’ve done everything right.

Arek Dvornechuck:
So, this is it for today's episode, and make sure to go and check out Rob's website and follow him on social media. And you can find all the links on this episode's page at ebaqdesign.com/podcast/14. So, thanks for tuning in, and if you enjoyed this episode please subscribe to my podcast for more tips on branding, strategy and design. This was Arek Dvornechuck from Ebaqdesign.

Save money

Best Deals for Creatives

Branding Guide

Build a brand your customers will love.

Start a project

Need help with your brand?