It is going to be a rather self-indulgent post today I’m afraid! Today is my last day at Nomen UK and I’ve been told that I can write about anything I like. Oh the power! I did consider filming a 5 minute video where I gave a juggling demonstration and explained to you why in fact Sylvester Stallone is a modern day Leonardo Da Vinci but I thought I’d keep it relevant. Look out for that video on my personal blog in the future though.
What I am going to do today is list a few of the things I have learned from working in naming over the last few years. When I started I had a few assumptions and while some of them have been confirmed, most have been blown out of the water. So in no particular order…
- When you tell people you name things for a living you will inevitably get one of the following 4 responses:
- “Oh right” (followed by silence as they try to work out what that actually means)
- “Is that a real job?”
- “So did you name (insert their favourite product) then?”
- “Hang on, so you just sit around all day and occasionally say ‘let’s call that Fred’?”
- What is very obvious to you might be a revelation to someone else. This is probably me getting sucked into the whole ‘anyone can do naming’ myth but there used to be occasions where I would wait for a client to raise an issue with one of their names thinking that they were just waiting for the right time, but it never came. I soon realised that a lot of things that are very well known to people in the industry are not as common sense as I had assumed. It’s always best to assume that the person you’re talking to knows nothing and then work up rather than leaving them wondering why you didn’t point something out from the beginning!
- Someone will always find something negative to say about a name if you give them long enough. There seems to be a million and one reasons that someone can find to reject a name. I have literally had someone say to me ‘we can’t call it that because if I squint and look at it, it looks like a penis’. In their defence they were laughing at the time. Different people have different views on where the line is on when to accept a name and when to let it go.
- A lot of people think that naming is very easy. Everyone names their own kids and pets so they assume that naming a company or product is just as simple. I’ve found that there is a lot more art and science that goes into naming something than most people realise. There are also a lot more issues involved, mainly legal and linguistic. Although I’m a very big advocate of tapping into a client’s own creativity rather than just coming up with all the names myself I really think there is value in going with an expert to guide you through the process. Even if you just want some assurance that your own choice of name is solid it is worth talking to someone who specialises in the subject. Hey, I’m allowed to blatantly sell Nomen’s services on the blog today because I’m leaving!
- I feel sorry for lawyers! I know, controversial. Plus I may have just given up a part of my soul. Anyway, for the first few months of naming I was not much of a fan of lawyers who seemed to shoot down every possible idea I put forward. I remember thinking on more than one occasion ‘why are they vetoing that? No-one is ever going to get confused between this product and that one!’ These days I’m of the opinion that they see their job as protecting you in the long run rather than just trying to make life more difficult for everybody.
- Good ideas can come from anyone; sometimes the unlikeliest candidates. I’ve worked with a very wide range of creative staff at Nomen and seen men in their 60s come up with the perfect name for the latest mobile phone and girls in their teens create a strapline that beautifully explains a new type of power saw. Often those you wouldn’t expect to have an insight into a certain world are the best ones to ask to get that ‘fresh eyes’ effect.
- Great naming is collaborative. I used to be really pleased when one of ‘my names’ was used on a product or even made it onto the client’s shortlist. These days I realise that there is really no such thing as ‘my name’ at all. Naming in a team is great for bouncing ideas off of each other and taking other people’s names and twisting them round until you’ve got the perfect solution. It’s been mentioned a few times in this blog in the past to always get other people’s ideas and this is exactly why. Someone might convince you that the idea you thought was rubbish actually has merit and even if it’s not right they can probably do something else with it.
- Picking a name from a shortlist can often be harder than coming up with the list in the first place! As someone who is leaving to set up his own company I now understand why clients seem to often have a hard time picking something, no matter how well it matches the brief. Taking the final plunge is a big move and one of the most important parts of a naming consultant’s job is helping a client feel comfortable with their decision. I was seriously misled about the whole ‘just sit around and occasionally call something Fred’ aspect of the job!
So there you go, just a few of the thoughts that stick in my mind from being a naming consultant for the last few years. Thanks to everyone I have met through this blog. Thanks to what is an amazing team at Nomen. Thanks to all of the clients I’ve worked with too; I feel very lucky to have worked for so many amazing people on some very fun projects. My apologies for not naming you personally but I know the rest of the Nomen UK team are rather fond of you too and they won’t want anyone reading this trying to pinch you!