Yesterday I had a fun lunch with Edward Saenz, principal of Gravity Branding. He’s done naming for Nissan Xtera, Wifi, among others.
It’s not so much that he’s come up with the names, but that he works committees through a process so that they feel comfortable with a name.
At one point he noted “if you ask 10 people to design a meal you’ll end up with a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.”
A great name, he says, is the antithesis of something that won’t piss anyone off.
Some other things I remember from yesterday? A great name should be easy to tell other people. It should evoke emotion.
He explained how they do market research. They do in depth stuff with 15 hand-picked people then do more qualitative research with a wider group to justify their theories.
This is an example of a guy that you just can’t get to know through ASCII text. His many stories have to be told on video because most of his technique is visual (he showed me some of the ways they test various names and positioning — basically they have to create stuff that looks like advertising to see how people react to it).
Anyway, I came away with a lot more respect for folks who come up with names of products and learned a lot of sales strategy in the process, since that’s really what he’s doing.