THE NAME GAME

Names are probably one of the most difficult things to get right. Over the years, I have been able to come up with a fair number of product or company names. But there is no single way to get this right.

Amongst the recent successful ones is the MIPIM Horizons trade fair, which will run next December in Cannes. In this case, MIPIM asked the Consorcom agency to help them with the name as they wanted to create a new event to accompany the hugely successful MIPIM property market trade fair. As MIPIM Horizons will focus on emerging markets, we naturally focused on that aspect. We kept the mother brand name and developed a range of names evoking discovery, novelty and the like. The Horizons is quite a “natural” choice, as it is easily understandable and evokes a lot of things that are interesting to property developers.

The list, and how to shorten it

Other things you have to look out for when choosing names are, of course, trademark issues. It can be very difficult finding something that does not yet exist. You also have to check them against a list of criteria, such as shortness, the ability to be understood in different languages, their ability to fit into a logo (although that is a secondary issue), the connotations and their “uniqueness”. Depending on the product you are looking at, you might also want to either embrace or avoid trendy words or connotations.

Lastly, you also have to ask yourself about a name’s relationship to other names. In this case, we piggy-backed on the mother brand MIPIM. But is this something that is desirable in each case? Oh, and did I mention having a strategy?

This might seem a lot to think about. But at a certain stage, you have to table some suggestions. Once you go through this process with a number of people (not too many), a shortlist will inevitably emerge. And at that stage, a personal preference or at least consensus will determine the best choice.

But one question no one has ever been able to answer me is: would IBM choose another name if they were given the chance? Some of the biggest companies have the flattest most uninspiring names. Many corporations are still using the original founder’s name even though the family is no longer involved. Is Google a name that can be used in every sector? Imagine they develop some software for the defence industry. Would you recommend they sell it under the banner of Google? So where do you put the limit? The same issue arises every time Virgin rents its name to another company, for example. Does anyone remember Virgin Cola?

Looking down the line, what do you think is the best option for a long term name?