May 24, 2011

Leave company and product naming up to us.

Not that you aren’t passionately concerned with your new name.

On the contrary. You’re the one most in the risk/reward hot seat. But naming is not your primary business, so it’s something you should outsource, just as you outsource brain surgery, elevator repair, and dog grooming. There are people out there with skills, experience and specialized tools. We immodestly include ourselves (for naming, that is, as we lack the core competency to groom dogs).

Spend your psychic energy, attention and expertise on making widgets, practicing law, predicting the Apocalypse, whatever is the highest best use of your time and talent. As we have been known to recite, “Do in-house what you do best, and turn to pros for all the rest.”

We have written before about Company Re-naming, which is fraught with other perils, and about the Three-Initial Company Name Mistake, which can be one dismal outcome of DIY naming. Recommended reading.

But why is naming so hard, perilous, and a bigger investment than most people expect? It has much to do with the crucial role of the Internet in your brand’s future survival, and the complexity of today’s name searches. The best new customers you will acquire next year will likely initially meet you digitally. Even if they are referred to you, they will use your web presence to verify and authenticate you. Decision makers – including your prospects – have adapted to new information sources, and you must evolve to keep up. The opportunity cost is very high for an uninviting website, uncertain navigation, intimidating long copy, no compelling visuals, or no social media presence. Web visitors are neither forgiving nor patient. Names, logos, taglines, pictures – all have to engage an audience in mere seconds, or your competitor makes the sale.

Now and into the future, your name, web presence, visibility and profits will be intertwined. For this reason, we insist that a new product or company name be available as a .com address. That’s a huge obstacle as billions of .com addresses are already taken. We also want the name to be easy to hear and spell. Here’s an acid test: can you say the name over the phone, without spelling it out, or repeating, and have people get it accurately on the first try? We have other criteria as well, that make naming even more challenging and complex. But then, so is elevator repair. Outsource.

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