A lean approach to brand naming

Before you can get started building a brand, you need a name. Simply put… the quicker you can get to a name and get started, the sooner you’ll know whether it works or not. Applying lean methodology to naming can help streamline the process. As Eric Reis writes, in The Lean Startup;

“Lean Startup isn’t about being cheap [but is about] being less wasteful and still doing things that are big.”

1. Mind map in reverse

The initial stage of name generation should requires some fairly heavy lifting in the form of mind maps. Integral to the exploratory process, mind maps are invaluable in helping explore a breadth of possible names and unearthing directions you may not have considered.

That said, what use is landing on your perfect name, if you then come to find its not available. Mind mapping in reverse from names that are available not only helps focus your search but can lead in just as interesting directions, safe in the knowledge, the name you select will be available.

If you do land on a name thats taken and are looking to purchase it (as a startup and unless for good reason) you’d be well advised to avoid getting into negotiation on price. Time saved here could be far better spent on your product, especially given we’re before point of proof.

2. Embrace your choice

Hopefully your mind mapping sessions have turned up a wealth of great possible company names. This wealth of great names however can make the decision making much harder. Objectifying the process through setting out specific criteria based on brand values is a great way to bring clarity to the process.

Clarity around the selection criteria should aid in dispelling uncertainty around selecting the ‘right’ name. It’s important to consider there is likely no one ‘right’ name. The importance of embracing your choice of name should far outweigh worries over other options you could have selected. Acting as an anchor to build your brand story around it’s important you believe in your chosen name given you’re hopeful others will too.

3. Remain open to change

It’s possible that through customer feedback there may be an unforeseen reason the name just isn’t well suited. Listening to customer feedback and remaining open to this possibility could prove invaluable in recognising it sooner rather than later. Starting over with a new name at this point is going to be far more cost effective than damaging accrued brand equity with a name change further down the line.

Speaking to a handful of prospective customers that fall within your target market can provide invaluable insight. It’s much quicker and more cost effective than organising focus groups, meaning you can get to building your visual identity faster and in good time for launch.

Need help with naming? Talk to us about facilitating a naming workshop.


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