How to Name Like a Mother
8 Strategic Considerations
By Laura DeGroot, Soulsight’s Mom with a Mission
As the Creative Strategy Director at Soulsight, I spend my 9-5 focused on how to build soulful brands that are set up for greatness. Whether it’s by uncovering the brand’s purpose, developing the brand’s name, or laying out its roadmap for growth, I’m always looking for opportunities to future-proof the brands we launch into the world.
Also as a mother of two, I find myself constantly drawing parallels between my approach as a strategist and as a mom. As a parent, I strive to build a strong, secure foundation from which my children can grow and thrive. This isn’t much different than building a strong foundation for a new brand. Similarly, I understand that the decisions I make as a parent can have life-long implications for my kids, just as the decisions we make as strategists, marketers and designers can have life-long ramifications for our brands.
Before my children were born, I found myself considering how the names my husband and I would choose for them had the potential to impact the way they were perceived by the world. As a strategist, the same responsibility applies when recommending a name for a new brand.
Looking back at all the baby naming articles I’ve read and the strategic brand name philosophies we at Soulsight follow, I found that when it comes to naming your baby, whether it’s your child or your brand, there’s some helpful considerations to keep in mind. And the key word here is “considerations.” At the end of the day you have your own intuitions, unique perspectives and gut feeling that needs to be acknowledged, listened to and heard. So whether you like to follow the rules or write your own, here are few to consider.
Name with Purpose
Most, if not all, parents have aspirations for their children before they’re even born. Hopes that they will become strong leaders, game-changing innovators, competitive athletes or creative artists. Selecting a name is one of the ways that parents articulate the aspirations they have for their children. For instance, take one of the most popular boys names from the past few years, Liam. Short for William, it means “helmet of will” and is symbolic of a strong-willed warrior and protector. For parents with aspirations of their child growing up to help others and fight for what’s right, it’s a great fit. When it comes to naming a new brand, the same logic applies. Ask yourself, what role do I want my brand to play in the world and in the lives of others? What do I want my brand to stand for and stand against. What do I want my brand to believe in and value.
While names like Apple, Blue Ivy and Dusty Rose may seem like a relatively new celebrity trend, metaphors have inspired names throughout time. Names like Leo and Lily are so engrained in our culture that it’s easy to forget that they are symbolic in nature. This is also a relevant naming strategy for brands. Think of how you want to feel after you drink an energy drink. Do you want to feel as unstoppable as a Monster or maybe a powerful as (Red)Bull? Next time you’re looking for a little naming inspiration, ask yourself, what are the brand’s key attributes that I want to convey? How do I want my people to feel after interacting with my brand? And what else shares these key characteristics?
Honor Your History
Whether passing down a family name or choosing one inspired by your cultural or ethnic background, these names forge an unbreakable bond between your past and present. When it comes to creating a brand name, consider one with roots. Whether named after a founder, creator, muse, or origin story, these names create a connection between where you’ve been and where you’re going.
Consider a Place
There’s an undeniable cool-factor that comes with the name Brooklyn as well as a midwestern approachability that comes with the name Madison. These transportive names evoke a feeling, vibe and energy that’s associated with the cities they represent. Similarly, brands can borrow associations from literal places – think FIJI Water – as well as suggestive places – think Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails. So if you’re looking for a little naming inspiration, ask yourself, what kind of spirit do you want your brand to embody? And what’s a place that’s representative of that same vibe?
Be Easy to Read and Pronounce
Whether it’s your child’s substitute teacher going through attendance, or someone seeing your brand for the first time, you want people to be able to read and pronounce the name with ease. Just like you don’t want your child to have to constantly correct others, you don’t want to put your brand in a position where it has to correct potential consumers.
Be Easy to Spell
Do you have a friend that’s always having to spell out their name for others? Do you think this is hurting their chances of being found on networks such as Instagram or LinkedIn? Could they be missing out on potential connections or opportunities because of it? At the end of the day, a name that is easy to spell is easy to search and easy to find. When it comes to a brand name, this doesn’t mean you’re limited to the boring, bland or basic either. Consider a composite or maybe even a fanciful name. As long as it’s spelled like it sounds, you’re on the right track.
Do Your Homework
Before falling in love with any name, make sure you put it through a few pressure tests. For parents, an easy one is the monogram test. Do the initials spell BAD, DUM or SAD? If these are associations you don’t want for your child, you may want to reconsider. Another easy test for names of any kind is to simply Google the name. Whether it’s a less than favorable celebrity or questionable Urban Dictionary reference, you may want to reconsider to avoid a potentially negative connotation. Also, just like parents often consider how the “mean kids” at the playground may use their child’s name to make a less than kind rhyme, consider if there’s any negative way to spin an otherwise positive name.
Many parents are choosing to keep their selected name a secret with the hopes of holding off the potential avalanche of subjective, and often unwanted, thoughts and opinions. While the feedback usually comes from a good place, it’s often rooted in one-off associations that aren’t relevant to the child or the child’s parents. “I don’t like the name Emma, because I knew a girl in high school that once…blah blah blah.” More parents are waiting until the child is born to share the baby’s name so people can be introduced to a person with a name versus a name in isolation. Being able to connect a name with a person or a brand beyond just the word alone creates valuable context. Similarly, when it comes to branding, consider bringing the name to life visually before sharing with others.
Naming your baby, whether it’s your child or your brand, is truly a labor of love. So whether you spend a day, weeks or months carefully considering the perfect name, embrace your unique opportunity to make a one-of-a-kind introduction with thoughtful consideration.
Soulsight is a Chicago-based iconic brand design agency. Our mission is to propel brands to unlimited success through strategic design that drives consistent relevancy. We are known for delivering inspiring, category-leading creative and insights-driven strategic guidance for some of the world's best-loved iconic, global brands. We're a team of 60 multi-disciplined, strategic creatives who believe in the power of consumer-centric, design-driven branding. We build Soulful brands through strategic design. We are Soulsight.