Every great brand's story begins with a great name.

The right name can bring immediate value to your business, distilling the power and promise of your brand into just one or two words. 

So how do you go about creating a name? How can you know when you've found the one? Naming is complicated but ultimately, it's a discipline: equal parts strategy, creativity and trademark law. Here's how we'll go about it.

We'll uncover the soul of your brand: Why you do what you do. We'll talk about how your mission authentically sets you apart, and what really matters to your customers. Your brand’s DNA is your secret sauce — the springboard to your future name.

We'll clarify your brand’s personality, which will provide inspiration, focus, and key guardrails. Then we'll dive into the details. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of different name styles, from descriptive to entirely made-up. We’ll look at whether or not your name might benefit from a descriptor. And we’ll talk about your brand architecture, trademark requirements, language considerations and URL needs.

I'll think wide then deep, channeling my 25+ years of conceptual advertising experience to explore fresh, meaningful, resonant name ideas. I don’t just fish through a thesaurus and smush words together. I focus on what your brand stands for and how it makes people feel while brainstorming, doodling, chasing tangents and linking ideas. Every time I come across a powerful idea, I’ll delve even deeper.

I'll pre-screen the very best contenders for potential pitfalls. (I don’t want you to fall in love with a name you can’t have.) I’ll perform cursory trademark, URL and contextual research, and remove problematic names from the running.

Finally, the fun part. I’ll present a range of name candidates, noting their different strengths. Together, we’ll imagine the possibilities and evaluate names both subjectively and objectively. Every new name can feel strange at first, but I’ll challenge you to be brave and extraordinary. You can’t bore a potential customer into liking you.

It can take another round or two of name exploration and refinement to get you to the next milestone: a shortlist of name candidates you absolutely love. Then it's off to your lawyers for a comprehensive legal analysis and ultimately, trademarking.

It’s much easier to imagine your future with a name if you can get a glimpse of it in action — in a brand manifesto, logo, signage or advertisement. A “proof of concept” exercise can help you see how a name really comes to life, and know in your bones you’ve landed the right one. It will also help you zero in on the tone and messaging that will get your new brand off to a brilliant start. 

Whipsmart, disciplined in her approach, and always digging one onion layer deeper, Mary holds herself and the process accountable to landing the exact right, unforgettable name.
— Andreea Niculescu, Creative Strategist, REI