Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Guide to Naming

Quick...make a mental list of your favorite companies and businesses.

What do memorable company names have in common? Most probably have a unique, memorable, or catchy name.

That's by design, according to Lisa Merriam whose book advises to pick a name that evokes the right associations and get close to what that company wants to convey with their positioning.

Nathan Gannon reviewed the book Merriam's Guide to Naming in a recent issue of B-to-B magazine.

For example, Merriam recently advised IT company Proxios on its name change from what she called the cheesier and generic Super-Server. Derived from the Latin word proximus, the company's new name means closely connected, reflecting, too, the vendor's desired relationship with customers. Despite a name's importance, Merriam said there is a proliferation of bad naming advice all over the Internet that frequently leads companies astray. She said many names go overboard trying to be memorable or, conversely, stay conservative and end up boring and overly descriptive. Some selections even convey unexpected connotations. For instance, before settling on Proxios, Super-Server had favored Axios, a Greek word meaning trustworthy. But testing showed people instead associated the name with deodorant, thanks perhaps to Axe body spray and its testosterone-dripping deodorant advertisements.

If it's a name that's just a little bit out there and makes you a little uncomfortable, she said, that's probably a winner.

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