Sunday, September 6, 2009

Naming our baby

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As we discovered, naming a shoe design company is no small task. We spent a number of weeks looking at this from as many different angles, and thought we'd share the process with you :)

Throughout the entire process we thought about brand names that we love. We thought about what made them impressive - usually it was the way the word sounded and how easily it could be remembered - google, zappos, mimco. We also loved brand names that related to something very relevant in a clever way.

On the very practical side of things, as we brainstormed we kept our laptops close by to check the availability of the business name and domain name as we worked.

We then went through 3 phases of brainstorming:

1. We started by taking the brand insight - that women behave as predators of couture. We then teased out the following territories to explore: 

  • an actual name - i.e. Michael 
  • hunting
  • myths/legends
  • design
  • using a play on words using a shoe-related word/s

From here we put some research into each territory, looking at stories, famous figures, foreign customs etc.

Although this helped us to open up where we could be, it didn't of itself yield a name. 

2. We then looked at a naming methodology from the 'Igor Naming Guide' (which is awesome by the way). This methodology suggests thinking about naming by:

  • Doing a competitive analysis. If many competitors have followed a particular path, you can differentiate easily.
  • Not trying to describe your business in your name. Brands will always appear in a context that describes the business. Let your brand name do something productive. 
  • Remembering that names built upon greek and latin roots can be seen as cold.
  • Thinking of poetic, rhythmic names - they're are great as people like to say them and they seem warm and friendly e.g. Google, Zappos, Kleenex, Oreo.
  • Trying to come up with evocative names - these are bigger than the good or service. They evoke the positioning of the product, rather than the good or service e.g. Virgin, Apple, Yahoo - however what they evoke must match the brand.
  • Remembering that tag lines are important and can help brands rise above their product of service: e.g. Nike - Just Do It, Apple - Think Different.

This helped us to take the exploration of territories, and try to turn them into a word...however again, this didn't of itself yield a name.

3. Last, but by far not the least, we took all this information we'd amassed, lots of wine, sushi, some good friends and sat in our courtyard for hours until Lisa from A Slice of Orange quite literally blurted out "Shoes of Prey". We all fell in love with the name instantly.  That's not to say that we didn't realise any hesitations:

  • Firstly, we wanted to make sure that this worked for people who weren't so close to the subject matter as we were, and so we went out to test it. We found that women connected with the name, understood the insight immediately and appreciated the duality of the word "Prey". Men however needed the insight to be framed up prior to being told what the brand name was to understand it.  They generally liked the name, but felt it didnt make sense.
  • As owners of this name, we also had other concerns - what if we branched out from shoes in the future? How do we use this name then? Should we not attempt to develop a name that is not so connected to a single product?

Stemming from these concerns, we sat down to brainstorm again, using Shoes of Prey as our bench-mark.  However, a new name never came.  We collectively decided that the fact that men didn't connect with this as women did was not a great concern, because we are only marketing to women.  Once the brand gains momentum and popularity amongst women (fingers crossed!!), men would be accepting of the name on this basis and by the way women behave in relation to the brand.

We are still not sure how this brand name will operate if or when we do expand into other products, but the name works so well for us that we can't justify changing it.

How would you have approached naming? Can you think of any other ways we could have considered this?


  1. Great post and thanks for linking to Igors Naming Guide, I hadn't seen that before.


  2. Hey Ned, thanks for your feedback :) the Igor naming guide is a great resource - as you'll see they describe the 115 pg document as soul-crushing, but we worked through it - it's excellent.

  3. I don't get the 'of Prey' part of the name. would that have to do with me being a guy? :P