Sunday, October 16, 2005

Seth's New Rules of Naming

Seth Godin writes a long entry in his blog about naming products and companies.

First, he reiterates his opinion that descriptive names make poor brand names:
"It quickly became clear, though, that descriptive names were too generic, so the goal was to coin a defensible word that could acquire secondary meaning and that you could own for the ages. That's why 'Jet Blue' is a much better name than 'Southwest' and why 'Starbucks' is so much better than 'Dunkin Donuts'."

"The entire point of 'secondary meaning' is that the first meaning doesn't matter at all (especially since you picked a name with no meaning to begin with). Over time, a surprisingly short time, your unique word, especially if it sounds right, will soon be the one and only word."
Then, he lays out new guidelines:
"Find a name that came up with close to zero Google matches."

"The structure of the words, the way they sound, the memes they recall... all go into making a great name. Starbucks is made of two words that have nothing at all to do with coffee (except for their profits!) and the reference to Moby Dick is tenuous for most of us. But over time, the shape of the letters, the way they sound and the unique quality of the word makes it close to perfect."

"[D]on't use a placeholder name. People will fall in love with it. Find your name, use that name and that's it."

"[D]on't listen to what your friends and neighbors and colleagues tell you about a name. We had a placeholder name (yikes), I had to change it and everyone hated the new name. For weeks! Now, it feels like it couldn't be anything else."
UPDATE:  More advice from Seth Godin in his classic blog entry, "Naming a Business":
"[A] brand name is a peg that people use to hang all the attributes of your business.  The LESS it has to do with your category, the better."

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