One of the first steps toward launching a new initiative is to figure out a name. This can be a daunting task as there are many horror stories of naming or renaming initiatives gone wrong.
In June 2011, for example, Overstock.com renamed itself as O.co. According to www.ragan.com, “Only three months later the company returned to Overstock.com—but not before spending millions of dollars on a six-year naming rights deal with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.” Ouch.
On a more local level, in the midst of writing this post, I received a call from a client who needs to rename his company because they have run into trademark and competitive issues. A very unfortunate situation and all too common in young enterprises. The name is generally chosen quickly and it sticks because it has cachet and appeal. Typically though it was never put through a thorough and rigorous vetting process, leading to an eventual renaming.
I’ve also worked with large public companies needing to rename to better reflect what they did. They had typically outgrown their original name that was too specific in its meaning.
So much rides on getting the name right. I am working on part of my book right now regarding 10 Critical Launch Elements, and the first section is about naming. So here is a quick checklist to keep you out of hot water (most of the time!). When evaluating your new name, consider the following criteria. Is the name candidate for the new initiative (product / service / company / division):
- Easy to say and spell
- Positive in terms of its connotations
- Fully linguistically tested in the major languages/markets in which you plan to sell
- One for which the associated domain name available?
If you can confidently answer “yes” to all six questions above, you probably have a good name. I’m assuming here that you have already engaged a lawyer to run the trademark question so you are clear on your freedom to operate under that name and any potential competitive issues …
Of course, there is much more to choosing a name than just these simple questions, but this is a great first-pass filter to run your name candidates through. Taking the time to evaluate your new name with these questions in mind will keep you on solid naming ground.
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