Lessons From Brand Namers: How to Become One and What It Involves

by | Dec 26, 2019 | Content Marketing, Copywriting, Digital Marketing

The journey to becoming a brand namer may yield some valuable insights to marketers.

“What’s in a name?”

No, I don’t mean to reference to Romeo & Juliet, but when it comes to brand names, a namer’s qualifications are as important as the brand name produced.

In other words, brand names just don’t appear out of thin air. They aren’t chosen carelessly.

When a brand decides to create a new identity for itself, it is, in effect, attempting to enter a new word into consumers’/marketers’ vocabularies.

And however much effort it takes to create that new language, it requires even more to distribute and promote it effectively. Once in the consumers’/marketers’ minds, brand names either stay or go without a second thought.

Those that are harder to remember require monumental amounts of targeted advertising.

Regardless of how much effort is involved, the process of becoming a brand namer does shed a few marketing insights.

Naming Names

While the talent pool to be a professional namer is as broad as it is deep, brands are looking to specific kinds of people to forge their identities–these individuals come from diverse backgrounds.

And not all are strictly word nerds, have a talent for writing, or have a firm grasp of marketing concepts. In fact, brands are looking for even more than those qualities.

WordCraft by Alex Frankel

Alex Frankel’s book, Wordcraft, offers a glimpse of the variety of talent it takes to produce a brand name.

According to Frankel,

“I found myself in creative sessions of varying lengths with monologuists, performance artists, self-confessed late-night conversationalists, children’s book writers, and so called shower thinkers who all moonlighted as namers.”

The profession of brand naming is then, all-encompassing. Wannabe brand namers are a nebulous bunch–they’re hard to define.

Brand naming draws from several disciplines and talents. For an example, we turn to the credentials of a particular namer in Frankel’s book:

Harvard education, recent college graduate with a literature degree, knowledge of Greek, Italian, and French, obsession with Scrabble, keen observer of pop culture, hobby of writing crossword puzzles, slightly off-center worldview, addiction to trivia, and regular participation on game shows…

Brand naming, from this example, is very open-ended. For what other job is being a pop culture-obsessed, multilingual Scrabble player considered a legitimate qualification?

The qualifications may be far-reaching, but wannabe namers must also be a “jack-of-all-trades,” so to speak. They must have a broad range of experiences and expertise. For instance, the credentials of the namer in the above example boasted a Harvard education and appeared on television game shows regularly.

Knowing How to Write Well Never Hurt…

Copywriting is a task in which the more experience you have–qualifications of namers are largely based on experience–the richer the copy. This calls to mind master copywriter, Joseph Sugarman, and his view of what makes great copy.

The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman

In Sugarman’s legacy, The AdWeek Copywriting Handbook, he explains that the more experiences you’ve had in life—with anything— can potentially inform your copy:

There is nothing really new in life. It’s simply a matter of taking previous pieces of knowledge and putting them together in a unique and different format…

The more you have stored in your brain from experiences and knowledge and the more you are able to interrelate that knowledge and come up with new combinations of old material, the greater an idea person you will be and the more powerful your capabilities as a copywriter will be.

Provided Sugarman’s copywriting philosophy is followed, one’s experience as a marketer could translate well to the naming profession. Here are some additional books that can help improve your copywriting skills.

But those people will only be as successful as their ability to plant their ideas in the minds of customers. For a namer, that’s a coveted skill.

When creating a brand name, it can be crafted so that its meaning is easy to communicate, or a name can be totally made up.

If it’s a brand new name, marketers need to aggressively promote the name to make people aware it exists, and recognize that it’s representative of a brand.

Wordcraft cites the brand, BlackBerry, as an example of a name that uses an existing word; Accenture as a brand that uses a completely new word.

In either case, the goal is to get the brand name to stick.

SUCCES-sful Names Stick Naturally With Customers

Brand namers are tasked with creating names that resonate with customers. In Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Made to Stick, they outline a how-to formula to make ideas memorable. They do this with a six-point methodology, requiring that, in order to be SUCCES-sful, ideas must:

  • Be Simple
  • Be Unexpected
  • Be Concrete
  • Be Credible
  • Be Emotional
  • Have Stories

Wannabe namers, and marketers, especially, can use this framework in order to get their ideas into the public consciousness easily and more organically than by relying on the manufactured method of advertising.

SUCCES methodology for memorable ideas

More specifically, the Concrete part of the SUCCES formula can prove useful to marketers. According to the Heath brothers,

“Concrete ideas are memorable…Experiments in human memory have shown that people are better at remembering concrete, easily visualized nouns… than abstract ones…”

Concreteness, as it relates to the SUCCES framework, is especially insightful when trying to plant your idea naturally in the minds of your prospects. This is because it’s easier to borrow a word’s image than create a new one. Once again, BlackBerry—a natural name—vs. Accenture—a made up name.

Although the requirements to become a namer are vague–there are many ways to get the same result– what matters the most is that you love words. That’s key, and perhaps the only part of becoming a namer that is a solid requirement.

From here, any number of unique combinations of experiences can prepare you to create brand names. Whether you simply have a passion for language, are skilled with the pen (laptop), or can think creatively–all skills marketers should have–professional namers represent diverse areas of expertise.

No matter how they became brand namers, their journeys lend valuable insight to marketers.


What are your experiences with naming your brand? Drop us a message in the chat below to tell us what inspired you and what tips works the best.

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