Here is a blank chart you can use as an exercise to evaluate names you are considering for your own project and see how well they support the positioning of your brand. Be sure to add some of your most successful competitors to this list, so you can accurately gauge how well your names can compete in the marketplace. Assign up to 10 points in each of the nine categories; the more points, the better (90 maximum total points):
1. How well a given name supports your core positioning for the brand you are developing.
2. For names under consideration during a naming project, for simplicity you may choose one of three options: "10" = likely available for trademark; "5" = may be available for trademark; and "0" = not likely available for trademark (at which point the name should be removed from consideration).
For reference, here are the definitions of each category – see our Name Evaluation page for more details:
Appearance – Simply how the name looks as a visual signifier, in a logo, an ad, on a billboard, etc. The name will always be seen in context, but it will be seen, so looks are important.
Distinctive – How differentiated is a given name from its competition. Being distinctive is only one element that goes into making a name memorable, but it is a required element, since if a name is not distinct from a sea of similar names it will not be memorable. Its important, when judging distinctiveness, to always consider the name in the context of the product it will serve, and among the competition it will spar with for the consumers attention.
Depth – Layer upon layer of meaning and association. Names with great depth never reveal all they have to offer all at once, but keep surprising you with new ideas.
Energy – How vital and full of life is the name? Does it have buzz? Can it carry an ad campaign on its shoulders? Is it a force to be reckoned with? These are all aspects of a names energy level.
Humanity – A measure of a names warmth, its humanness, as opposed to names that are cold, clinical, unemotional. Another – though not foolproof – way to think about this category is to imagine each of the names as a nickname for one of your children.
Positioning – How relevant the name is to the positioning of the product or company being named, the service offered, or to the industry served. Further, how many relevant messages does the name map to?
Sound – Again, while always existing in a context of some sort or another, the name WILL be heard, in radio or television commercials, being presented at a trade show, or simply being discussed in a cocktail party conversation. Sound is twofold – not only how a name sounds, but how easily it is spoken by those who matter most: the potential customer. Word of mouth is a big part of the marketing of a company, product or service with a great name, but if people arent comfortable saying the name, the word wont get out.
"33" – The force of brand magic, and the word-of-mouth buzz that a name is likely to generate. Refers to the mysterious "33" printed on the back of Rolling Rock beer bottles from decades that everybody talks about because nobody is really sure what it means. "33" is that certain something that makes people lean forward and want to learn more about a brand, and to want to share the brand with others. The 33 angle is different for each name.
Trademark – As in the ugly, meat hook reality of trademark availability. Scoring is easy here, as there are only three options, and nothing is subjective: 10 = likely available for trademark; 5 = may be available for trademark; and 0 = not likely available for trademark. All of the names on this list have been prescreened by a trademarked attorney and have been deemed likely for trademark registration.
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