As an award-winning branding agency, we are often approached to develop a brand from scratch. Sometimes, all clients have is a passionate idea and a general direction on where they want to head towards. Or, there are clients who have done some of the legwork, but have a name + logo they’re not in love with and doesn’t reach the standard they want to achieve.
We love all our projects, but getting to work on a brand from the first step – the name – makes us all kinds of happy. Naming a product or brand is an interesting process. With the limited amount of available domains and overwhelming amount of existing companies in the world, you really have to get creative to find a unique name. And creative is what we like to be.
Of course, many will say: “Well, Google isn’t a word. Just make it up.” Yes, there are very famous brand names that are made up, but they are the result of dozens of hours of brainstorming, brand research, and brand strategy during their corporate branding process. And it’s this process of brand brainstorming that fills our creative glasses with creative juices.
Now – let’s break down how the helium team comes up with a really cool name.
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1 // The Discovery Session + Brand Foundation
All our branding projects start with a Discovery Session that gathers the decision makers + our entire creative studio to uncover why the client started the company, who does it serve, what makes them unique, and what are the upcoming goals.
It is through this meeting that we grab key words, terms, phrases, and audible nuggets that we’ll use to guide the naming process.
Before we starting working on the names, we first create a solid brand foundation consisting of positioning statement, brand story, and mission statement. Without these key brand components, finding an appropriate name would be impossible as the name is only 1 small component of a multi-dimensional brand experience.
2 // Word Vomit
Our Creative Manager, Enid, loves to describe this next phase as the ‘word vomit phase.’ This is where each of us at the agency write down every name we can think of. The good, the bad, and the very bad. Writing down names you know won’t work is crucial to the process. If you censor your brain than you’re stopping yourself from exploring all the possible naming options before you even think of them.
During this stage we also write down adjectives, emotions and random thoughts that can turn into taglines.
3 // Research + Refine
Since pretty much every word under the sun is not available as a URL and there are hundreds of thousands of brands out in the universe, we don’t want to fall in love with a name to later discover a competitor has it or there is absolutely no way to make it work for the website domain or available social media handles. So each of us take our list of favorite names and research to see what’s available within their industry. Is there a creative way to spell the word or can another word be added to it that will better identify the client? These are questions we ask ourselves during the refining process.
4 // Voting
All the favorite – and vetted – names are gathered into 1 list that is passed along to all team members. Not knowing who came up with which name, we all take a vote on which names would best fit the project knowing – at this stage – all the background on the client and the solidified brand foundation. The names with the most votes then go through a secondary vetting process.
5 // Name Vetting
With the top names written on a white board [or whatever we find handy to write on in the studio] we then go through the pros and cons of each name in regards to the client’s product and industry. Through an open discussion, the goal is to leave the meeting with a handful of strong names or – sometimes – with the task to go back to step 2 and work on more naming options.
6 // The Moment We’ve Been Waiting For
After we have a selection of strong + scrutinized names we present them to the client along with our reasoning. As humans, we resist change and since this is the first time the client is seeing a word they’re supposed to adopt, it can be hard to understand where it’s coming from or the why. For us, it’s important that we’re there for our clients to answer any questions as to how we came up with these names we’re suggesting they move forward with for their passion project, multi-million dollar luxury development or new venture.