11 tips for researching new brand names
Research is becoming an increasingly important tool in finding the right brand name – to help you to select the right one – but also to add even more meaning to a name. Why then is researching a name so poorly handled, when methodologies for just about every other creative element have been developed and honed to extract the best information?
Why do you need name research?
• To gain reassurance that a name resonates with the consumer.
• To make certain that a name is in keeping with the core brand idea.
• To gain acceptance to a name before commitment to the development of a brand identity.
Often, finding the name is a last minute scramble and one of the key problems is that the majority of naming research is carried out very (sometimes too) late in the name development process and it is usually a bolt-on to other research; for example, as part of packaging design research. The results are often inconclusive.
‘Lead’ names are applied to pack designs, with other candidate names often shown as a separate list. This method is deeply flawed. How do you even know that these names are worthy of your time? Do you hope that by designing a brand around a chosen name, consumers will like it more? Why ask the consumer to judge the style of the design and all of the semiotic coding involved, when we are not sure the word triggers the response we want? How did those words become lead names in the first place? Why aren’t you using the consumer to help you select them, rather than just see which ones (of your choice) they like?
I appreciate that, in the interests of economy, it is preferable to get as many answers out of research as one can, but lumping everything in together can be counter-productive.
So how should names be researched?
Here’s just a few thoughts and research companies may not respond well to this kind of heresy. Every one will have their own methodology and you will need to decide if it can adapt easily to names. However, these principles apply if you are talking to real people or their ‘avatar’.
1. Think about what you are testing. This will help to keep research simple.
2. Allow the audience to concentrate on the names. Don’t let them be distracted by elements which potentially cloud their judgement.
3. Don’t waste your time producing unnecessary stimulus. Instead, you should be testing the strength of prospective names before entering into design (unless of course, you have unlimited budget!).
4. Don’t waste time on too many names. If you’ve done your job, you will already have narrowed the list to a manageable size – say, six words. If you can’t be decisive, use a group to screen out then use the subsequent ones to dig deeper.
5. Listen out for consumers playing back to you the criteria you’ve used all the way through the development process – then you’ll know that you’ve asked the right questions.
6. Put your thoughts into context (without getting caught up in the detail of design work). For example, set the scene with what your product is and does – not the price and pack size. You recruited these people because they’re your target, but they don’t have to like the product to tell you that the name isn’t right for it. You could also tell them about the personality of your brand, what its story is, because then they’ve got something to relate the names back to, not just a product or a usage occasion.
7. Don’t let the respondents read the words until they have heard them. The consumer should react to the name, not just to words on a page. Get them to say them out loud – to test ease of pronunciation. (You won’t hear this in an on-line test, so how will you know if it works?).
8. Remember the core idea? Which of the names best fits the story?
9. Don’t worry about how many people like the name – this is a brand, you want stronger emotions than ‘like’. You want and need people to sit up and take notice; a groan, a laugh. That doesn’t mean that they have to like it. And a name can be right for all the wrong reasons.
10. Research is for your guidance and reassurance, not necessarily for cut-and-dried decisions.
11. And finally, don’t believe them when they say they don’t like it. If you ask the right questions and prompt them the right way, you may find that the first name they heard – and hated – is actually the one they think works best for the brand! Brand names seep into our consciousness, they do not always bang us over the head. Give them time to fall in love.
There is always the marketers’ dilemma – isn’t the brand much more than just a name? In many cases, the name is the brand, it’s certainly a very powerful and valuable piece of IP. And the brand will come to life and build presence through communicating it effectively. But that comes when you have the name, not before. If you want to know if consumers like your product idea, test for that. If you want to know which design they prefer, test that. But if you are still trying to decide on the right name, surely you still need to explore this tricky area, before applying to designs? Those designs may change fundamentally depending on which name you select (unless you are happy to go with generic thinking, of course).
Consumers should be judging the word, how it sounds and feels and what it conjures up for them, not spending time judging whether they like a particular colour or logotype.
A good name speaks for itself.
In: Brand communications, Brand Strategy, Corporate Identity, Naming, Viewpoints · Tags: Research