Ever see a company or product name and wonder, "how did they come up with that?" Well, I work for a branding agency that specializes in naming--WANT Branding. We've named companies (Cingular, Sirius, Verizon, MGM Resorts Int), products (Mach3, Inspiron, Nexium, Fruitopia), services/places (Aria (casino in Vegas), OneWorld, Mlife) and something in just about every other category. Some of our most recent work includes Royal Caribbean's two recently announced ships -- Quantum of the Seas & Anthem of the Seas.

Ever wonder what the process is for creating a name? (hint: it's not just a bunch of people around a table, drinking and shouting out ideas...usually) Or what it entails to create a global name? How long it takes? How to protect the name of your business/product/band/game/etc? Well, ask away!

Proof: http://www.wantbranding.com/join-us-for-an-ama-on-reddit/

Comments: 264 • Responses: 48  • Date: 

heyfella78 karma

I wanna get a job naming kitchen appliance. Seems like the easiest job ever. You know, refrigerator, toaster, blender...you just say what the thing does and then you add '-er'. Kitchen Appliance Naming Institute.

"What's this do?"

"It keeps shit fresh."

"Well, that's a 'fresher'. I'm going on break."

ProfessionalNamer29 karma

Hahaha! Yeah, pretty much (except not). You're not looking for a new job, are you? ;)

nate80050 karma

Care to name my johnson?

ProfessionalNamer246 karma


nate80094 karma

Well, this backfired.

ProfessionalNamer41 karma

Kudos for being a good sport about it though!

ohfuckit40 karma

What should I call my child? (will be arriving in November)

What should I look for when making the decision?

so far I have:

  • needs to serve the kid well as a personal brand for life... no fad names, overpopular names, or names that will cause some social disadvantage

  • should be easy to pronounce and spell for as much of humanity as possible.

  • needs to sound normal enough in both the UK and the US (family dynamics)

  • but, still needs to be distinctive enough to be interesting or memorable

  • not overtly religious.

*edit: simplified and clarified question.

ProfessionalNamer81 karma

Lucas. You're welcome.

ohfuckit33 karma

That's pretty good, thanks.

OmnibusPrime44 karma

He will be called "Puke-Ass" or "Mucus" on the playground. Just so you know.

ProfessionalNamer44 karma

"Puke-ass"? That's a stretch, no? Mucus, meh, maybe. One of the things we tell our clients is that every name can have a negative connotation: Virgin, CBS (I see BS), Amazon (dirty river), etc. You gotta not over anal-yze!

Ragnalypse16 karma

No-one would ever make fun of Amazon saying "Hey the Amazon river is so polluted lulz."

ProfessionalNamer15 karma

You'd be surprised. I've heard it. And also "it's a bad name because the Amazon is such a scary place". Any name--someone will ALWAYS find a negative behind it. It's usually something that doesn't matter, which is why we "teach" our clients that every name can potentially have a negative connotation, and we try to cite examples within their category.

ninjette8476 karma

I always thought Amazon was named that because there is a huge variety of products. Am I right?

ProfessionalNamer5 karma

Absolutely right. Also, in case you've never noticed, the logo has a little arrow pointing from the A to the z (as in, everything from a to z)

Ragnalypse3 karma

Who exactly told you that Amazon is a bad name?

ProfessionalNamer9 karma

Pretty sure I've heard it more than once, but the case I referred to was a very successful entrepreneur who had hired us to name a new business of his. Sometimes, even someone who's brilliant at business, can be completely lost when it comes to marketing/branding. This is why we try to educate the client throughout the naming process--it's the best way to (try to) assure success.

Frajer21 karma

What makes a name a good name? Also what's the worst name you ever heard suggested?

ProfessionalNamer27 karma

A good name should either say what the thing is (or what benefits it offers) or it should at least be memorable somehow--it be easy to say and talk about. There's a lot more than that, but that's a big one (and even that one has some exceptions...Haagen Dazs anyone?)

Names tend to change from horrible to awesome based just on people's perspectives of the brand though. Imagine you were on the board at what is now Google, and one of the board members says, "OK, we've narrowed it down to 2 potential names for our company: WebSearcher or Google". I'd say at least 9 out of 10 people would've gone with "WebSearcher" and said "what a ridiculously stupid name!" about Google. Admittedly though, we have heard some names that just leave us speechless...usually those are names that people have come up with themselves for their own business/product

jaypeeps9 karma

good speechless? or bad?

ProfessionalNamer20 karma

Bad. REAL bad. I wish I could give examples, but I wouldn't want any of those people to Google their bad names and then end up here, where I essentially mock them, ya know?

Tufneln15 karma

"Quantum of the Seas" bad?

ProfessionalNamer13 karma

There are always some people who don't like a name (especially at first). But it's a quantum leap forward as far as what's offered on a ship (technology, activities)--stuff on board that you would never imagine on a ship, so the name fits, and it fits what the brand (Royal Caribbean) stands for--innovation. Does knowing that that make it any better?

IP_Invalid20 karma

If you were commissioned to name Reddit before you knew about it, what would you call it?

ProfessionalNamer26 karma

That's a good question...I'd probably need more information before even venturing a guess. Reddit's actually a great name though--it's short, memorable, though probably not the easiest to spell (if you say the name to someone who doesn't know it, what are the chances that they'll spell it "redit"?). The neat thing is that Reddit has become more than just a name--the people who participate are "redditors" and I've heard it used as a verb ("I'm gonna Reddit for a bit"). Clients looooove when their name can potentially be used as a verb--that was one of the criteria for Bing--but it's always something that the users have to create/use, and not something that can be really planned for.

p0wnd12 karma

Bing is a pretty terrible one. I won't go to that site just because it's named bing. It just sounds so forcibly happy. It's like fuck you i'm just gonna google that.

ProfessionalNamer11 karma

Well, I'm sorry to hear that. I wasn't personally involved with that project, but I do like it. It's short, memorable and could potentially be used as a verb.

If Bing and Google were reversed (i.e. if Bing was Google and vice versa), you'd like be saying something about how you hate Google. At this point, it's probably more about perception in context than just the name itself, IMHO

ken2723817 karma

it's not just a bunch of people around a table, drinking and shouting out ideas...usually

Some names I've seen were not thought of while sober.

ProfessionalNamer15 karma

That one wasn't me...I swear....

stevenmw16 karma

What have you named?

ProfessionalNamer23 karma

See the description text (or our website--wantbranding.com).

Just to give a few examples: Cingular, Mach3, Bing, *Aria, *Wet Republic, *EasyTech (Staples tech support), *G1 (first Google phone), *Mlife (players club), *Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (including almost everything inside it), *MGM Resorts (renamed from MGM Mirage), *Our365 (in-hospital baby photos)

Things with the * indicate that I personally participated in the project. The other ones predate me

bluepilled11 karma

Did the genesis of "Bing" have any connection to Ned Ryerson?

ProfessionalNamer8 karma

No, but in hindsight, it should have.

[deleted]1 karma


ProfessionalNamer11 karma

Wet Republic is the pool lounge at the MGM Grand (http://wetrepublic.com). Extremely successful, and a name that's unique and memorable. Better stick to your day job ;)

hannah_sedg15 karma

How many names does a product get until you reach a final product? ... also, what's the weirdest product you've named?

ProfessionalNamer26 karma

Though it does vary, on average, we present 2 rounds of 20 names (40 names total). Typically 2-4 names are then proceeded into legal searches or research, and from there they pick 1. Companies are only allowed to take 1 name at the end of the project--we keep the rest in what we call our "NameBank". Many very famous names you see, were originally presented (and rejected) by someone else.

Pat12345678908 karma


ProfessionalNamer22 karma

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure I'd get fired if I gave examples of our best, still-available-for-use names :-p

Pat12345678905 karma


ProfessionalNamer9 karma

We have our own design team, but, for instance when one of the big agencies brings us in just for a name, then yes, we work with their designer team. We help figure out lock-ups with a descriptor (Like "Brand X Industries" where "Industries" is the descriptor), whether one part of the name should be bigger than another, that sort of thing.

Kerbah15 karma

How many projects do you typically work on at once? I always imagined that inventors wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and shout "SHAKE WEIGHT!" then get to creating it, not the other way around. Its fascinating that people outsource for things like that.

Also, do you have a giant picture of the guy who named the "orange" hanging in the lobby of your office?

ProfessionalNamer13 karma

number of projects at once: we hit a record in Dec 2011 of 7 projects at once, and it's only increased since then. Currently, we have around 15 projects (keep in mind, some are multi-month or even year-long projects).

Yup, it's outsourced. Naming is actually incredibly difficult, especially because most names you can think of are already taken. Many agencies claim they do naming, but very few are any good at it. In fact, a lot of the largest branding agencies in the world just outsource their naming to us.

TehBossLizard14 karma

What is the most insignificant thing you have needed to come up with a name for?

ProfessionalNamer27 karma

Internal web portals (for hospitals, companies)--which are only seen by staff. And they always seem to want something ridiculous that no one will ever remember (SuperIntraWebzone3000Extreme) or something completely generic (Internal Portal).

As a side-note, a few companies do have interesting names for their internal web portals (Mercedes: Pitstop, Thomas Cook: Open Air, Nestle: Henri) -- more companies should probably take their examples

ProfessionalNamer13 karma

Thank you so much, everyone for all the great questions!

I have to run now, but if anyone else has any follow-up questions or anything, please feel free to send me a pm.


Vinovidivici11 karma

Clients probably tell you sometimes that the names you find are bad. What was the worst scenario of this happening?

Do you try to convince them of the value (or advantages) of the name or do you throw it out and try to find a better name?

ProfessionalNamer15 karma

Part of the process is definitely selling in a name. We don't just send an email with a list of names--we dress them up with images or sometimes even video. But since naming is so subjective, we create a "NamingBlueprint" beforehand, which specifies criteria, things to avoid, name types to explore--things like that. So if a client says, "I don't like it", (which is surprisingly rare, actually) we can at least say, "well, it meets all these criteria, so what don't you like?". At that point, most people don't just say, "well, I just don't like it." So instead they give us good feedback that we can use for Round 2. In my 9 years with the company, I think there may have been once or twice where someone said "I just don't like it" and there was nothing we could do--it's extremely rare, but we know you can't please everyone, no matter how hard you try.

mensminger1510 karma


ProfessionalNamer19 karma

I started just over 9 years ago--saw an ad for the company looking for someone to transcribe focus groups, which I did while I was in college. They liked my work, so they gave me more things to work on remotely. About a year later, finished college, and they offered me a full-time job in NYC (at the beginning of 2005).

I'm now "Naming Naming" so I'm involved in every single naming project, and am overseen by the CEO.

se439 karma

Do you get "writer's block" but of course, for thinking of names?

ProfessionalNamer15 karma

Totally! Sometimes, I'll come up with 100 names for something, and when they're checked for legal viability, every single one is already taken--pretty sure that's the equivalent of not being very creative with naming.

dikkepiemels8 karma

So how do you come up with new names?

ProfessionalNamer12 karma

Lots of things: brainstorming sessions, interviews, focus groups, thesaurus-mining, Excel tables, magazines, scrabble--you name it. Every once in a while though, the perfect answer really does appear to you out of nowhere, which can be very nice.

PhilipT977 karma

Do you have a favorite name that you've been holding on to, that will probably never be used?

ProfessionalNamer6 karma

When I was in high school, I was in a band called Radiostatic (this was before I'd ever heard of Radiohead, which is kinda close now)--for some reason, I always liked that name. Another we joked around with was "Raspberry Dump Truck" (no idea why, but I always remembered it, so I guess it has that going for it).

I currently do have some names I really like that I'm holding on to, but I still have hope that I'll get to pitch them!

PhilipT975 karma

A situation for "Raspberry Dump Truck" would be if there was a famous toy brand (think Tonka) starting to produce kid's snacks. It would be a wonderful flavor.

ProfessionalNamer5 karma

Hahaha! I'd try it!

bluepilled7 karma

What do you see as examples of some of the best (and worst) band names?

What are defining characteristics of great (and terrible) band names?

ProfessionalNamer12 karma

Band names are kind of an anomaly--it's one of the few names that can offend or turn people off and still be successful (The Queers, for instance). Or literally have no meaning whatsoever...one of my favorite bands is Pearl Jam, but if you think about it (not that you should), it's kind of a really silly name, isn't it? I personally like band names that are totally off the wall, like Arctic Monkeys -- maybe it's 'cause they have the freedom to come up with names like that and I don't!

TheNerdWithNoName11 karma

Pearl Jam is a euphemism for semen.

ProfessionalNamer5 karma

Wow. Guess you learn something new everyday. I'm fairly certain though that that's not where they got it.

account_seven4 karma

When I was a kid my dad had "One" in his car. I never listened to it because I thought it was a promotional album for Pearl drumsets-- like, just a bunch of rhythms to inspire you to buy drums. I was not a culturally aware kid.

ProfessionalNamer2 karma

First band I ever saw had a Pearl drum set (this was when I was about 10)--my older brother pointed out the drum set, and told me it was Pearl Jam, so I believed him! So, I'm right there with ya...

SniperRezil6 karma

How much does a job like this pay, and what kind of college education do you need to go into this field

ProfessionalNamer6 karma

Starting pay at most agencies is around 30-35K. If you're the CEO at a big agency, you could be making 8-10 million a year--everyone else is somewhere in between.

Business or something creative in college usually helps. Writers tend to do well also, so there's really no rule.

BeautifulVictory6 karma

Have you ever named nail polish? If so what names?

ProfessionalNamer13 karma

I think nail polish is actually one of the few things we've never named (that I know of, at least). Last year, we pitched to rename all the beauty products for a big cosmetics company, which would've included nail polish, but given that it's been a year and we haven't heard back from them, I'm guessing it's not gonna happen.

diepthinking6 karma

Have you ever decided to use your naming skills to name your current and/or future children? Does your husband and/or wife approve?

ProfessionalNamer5 karma

I'm not married and don't have kids, but I've heard several co-workers say it's extremely difficult, as they overthink it to death. I do have a few co-workers that created naming systems for their kids' names (all names start with the same letter; same number of letters--that sort of thing).

k_sheep6 karma

How long did you ponder your username before you settled on Professional Namer?

When people find out what you do for a living do you get a lot of "Oh man! You gotta hear what I just thought of the other day... Are you guys hiring...blah blah blah"?

ProfessionalNamer8 karma

"ProfessionalNamer" was pretty much the only reddit username still available.

And yes, we do get that. Usually it's more negative--"oh, I heard this name the other day and it sucks!"

brysonreece5 karma

Would be willing to accept a PM on your thoughts for a product name? Also, how much do naming services usually cost?

ProfessionalNamer9 karma

You can send me a message, but I'm somewhat limited by contract on how much I can help--I'll do my best.

Hiring a naming agency can range from 15K to millions and each is a case-by-case thing--just to give an idea, an average naming project is around 40K.

emkat6 karma

What makes a naming project more expensive than others?

tautologies5 karma

The customer..how much monies they have....how many markets has to be checked...local vs international..internal vs external...

ProfessionalNamer8 karma

Yup--absolutely right. Naming a small physical store that will only exist in one place is easier (and therefore cheaper) than a huge software company that plans to have a presence in 90 countries. Think about linguists in all applicable languages to make sure it doesn't mean anything bad/offensive, legal to make sure no one's gonna sue you, just to name a few. Some naming projects can take a year to complete, which is pretty crazy if you think about it...

Master2u5 karma

What would you name a man with no arms and no legs floating in the ocean?

ProfessionalNamer41 karma

I'd call him f**ked, but that's my non-professional opinion

malcolm2333915 karma

Name my baby, its a boy.

ProfessionalNamer9 karma

Sorry...I only give out 1 baby name a day--see above...maybe you can use it also ;)

tautologies6 karma

Just tell him Thor. Thor is a go to name for babies for sure.

ProfessionalNamer10 karma

You heard the man. Thor, it is!

HymenAnnihilator4 karma

Largest number of drinks it took to come up with a wicked awesome commodity name... GO!

ProfessionalNamer10 karma

Not sure what you mean by commodity, but we've worked with quite a few liquor brands, and have obviously had to sample their stuff...ya know, for research. And one of the big perks of those clients is the free liquor. My own collection is about 85 different bottles of different types of booze, which is very cool (most still full since I hardly drink).

flabbergastard4 karma

How many people work for your company vs. how many are formally part of the creativity team? Btw, "creativi-team" should be yall's (un)official department name. Do you work 9-5 or do hours often vary? What titles do your coworkers hold: Any engineers? or more just jack-of-all-trades types?

ProfessionalNamer4 karma

We're consultants, so titles revolve around that (consultant, senior consultant, director, managing director, etc).

Number of people actually changes often--we have a lot of per-project people, including copywriters (there's even category-specific copywriters, like pharmaceutical copywriters), certain types of designers, etc.

There's about 8-10 people full-time, and another 10-20 at any given time. 2-4 people are usually involved in each naming project. All those per-project people are people we've worked with for many, many years, and are all based near one of our offices (in other words, we're not just outsourcing to India or anything like that...not that there's anything wrong that)

CreativiTeam is very funny. We'll see if it sticks ;)

jaypeeps3 karma

professional opinion on the name, ''jaypeeps"?

ProfessionalNamer11 karma

Is it for the stalker version of j-date?

GunnyBurton3 karma

Would you ever consider naming porn movies?

ProfessionalNamer6 karma

If they can afford us, sure, why not?!

Snuskmumrik3 karma

I am actully thinking of starting a small company. Just as a hobby for now. Since I am a skateboarder, it will have a strong connection too just that. Doesn't matter I guess. But I feel like get some products, for my own or just for friends and the scene for now. But anyway! My question is. Does the Co. logo has a big influence on the name/brand. I mean, to get a good fit between the actual name and the logo. So people can relate and so it isn't too complicated too think/look at? Because in the skateboarding scene I feel like the name coud be fucking anything. It's what the brand is about, and the vibe it's giving out. Hope I made somewhat sense too you, haha. And sorry if not, because English is my second language :) Cheers from Sweden.

ProfessionalNamer5 karma

We've done some work with some some surfing and skating companies--it's actually a really tough category to do names for (at least in the US). There's a LOT of other companies in this field, and any cool name you can think of has been taken, but like band names, you do have a bit more freedom to not be so PC with your name.

As far as logo, probably important--a big part of skate companies is gear--hoodies, shirts, stuff like that--and no one wants a crappy logo on their gear, right?

bobcat2 karma

How upset where you when that Sirius-sponsored Nascar driver told some interviewer live on TV that the dog+star mascot was named 'Mongo' and you had to scramble to put that into your ads?

Foreveryonesinfo: Sirius is the Dog Star, companion of Orion the Hunter.


ProfessionalNamer4 karma

I don't actually work for Sirius, so it's not my ad, but that's pretty funny. And absolutely right, Sirius is the dog star, hence the dog logo that accompanied the name

pheenix992 karma

Are you responsible for the Sham-Wow?

if so...die in a fire


ProfessionalNamer5 karma

No, that wasn't us. BUT...you certainly seem to remember it, so it it really a bad name?

Sometimes, a bad name is just as effective as a good one (or more so). Think of the original Old Navy ads--they were HORRIBLE! Totally annoying, but you'd wanna talk about it and tell people how bad they were, so it worked. Same thing with that "Head On" cream thing (apply directly to the forehead, apply directly to the forehead!")