Monday, December 14, 2009

What's in a name?

Having become parents in the last year, my wife & I have gone through the whole process of selecting a name for our baby girl. This was fraught with problems, such as:

1. Who or what is associated with the name?
It may sound good to name someone after a famous person, place or events - but times change
(As the people who named their baby boys "Tiger" have subsequently found out)

2. What does the name sound like out of context?
Ask yourself the question "if you saw it written down, would you know it was a name?"
(Famous examples such as Scout Willis and Peaches Geldof spring to mind)

3. Does the name only suit a certain point in life?
Something that sounds great for a baby, may not necessarily be good for an adult.
(e.g. How many board directors do you know that are called "Poppy"?)

You may even consider what the name means in other languages!
(Note: a UK translation agency now provides a service that does exactly this)

And the same needs to be said for companies who name themselves and their products.

The most obvious recommendation I can give is to do an online search first. As well as seeing if another company has a similar name, you can also see what other search results come up as well. Something could come up that can damage your future brand, especially if the results are particularly unsavoury. However if your term produces a Googlewhack (no search results for those exact words) then you have either found something completely obscure or search heaven. This article from Marty Wintraub at Search Engine Land covers a lot of other useful pointers (including watching out for Search Engine Optimisation and social media naming tricks).
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