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Session One on Naming a Brand from Scratch
Session One on Naming a Brand from Scratch

In the long list of great things I experienced while studying at Kellogg, the diverse opportunities to participate in fun or useful activities outside of the classroom were amazing. Thank you, student clubs! On that note, I’d like to share one I enjoyed the most.

Near the beginning of the winter quarter, the Kellogg Design Club held the first session of “How to Name a Brand from Scratch: Jam Session + Mini Competition.” We gathered at Jacobs to share ideas and techniques to come up with a brand for a specific service. The jam session was about the process and pushing us to start thinking about how it can be done.

First, of course, you need something to name. The proposal was to create a name for a product/service related to a necklace with a key, a key that would actually open something! It could be a perfect gift for a bride from the groom to discover a surprise during the honeymoon, for example. We had the outline but had to face that uncomfortable moment of dealing with a blank sheet. Where to start? Emily Baum ’13 and guests Conor McFerran and Dave Pabellon led the session and gave us guidelines to kick off our creative side by having us team up and brainstorm.

Without a doubt, teams are always important, and I found that to hold true when it came to this exercise. You only own one perspective, even if you try to be as open as you can. Plus, brainstorming with yourself can be boring a majority of the time (I tried it!) Exchanging ideas with others pushes everyone’s thinking.

As for the brainstorming process, you can choose the technique you prefer. There are many, and inspiration can be taken from anywhere. In our session, we found concept mapping to be very useful. Mood boards can also be an option. Then, there are resources worth checking, including naming ‘tools’ like the thesaurus.

When it comes to names, it is also good to have these things in mind:

  • Great names are: distinct, brief, likeable, appropriate, easy to say/spell, extendable, protectable
  • Not-so-great names are: common, complex, off-brand, hard to say/spell, limited
  • When naming: understand what you’re naming, who you’re naming it for, identify + build on cultural anchors that resonate with that audience

With this introduction and brainstorming done, we formed the teams to work on two or three ideas to present during competition the following week. My team gathered our inspiration from different imaging sources, like Instagram, Pinterest and Etsy, checked words in other languages, looked for female names in epic romantic stories and more. At the end, we presented three naming ideas: “Kamaki,” “Wanderlust” and “Gioia”. We got 2nd and 4th place in the competition, which was terrific (along with great feedback)! It couldn’t have felt more amazing to be recognized in this context and with this type of work.

The other teams also had powerful names. “Amoria” (a mix of ‘amor’ – love in Spanish – and ‘memoria’ – memory) and “Windrose” were the other two winners. These were very consistent and inspiring ideas.

At the end, beyond competition results, the experience was meaningful. We learned a lot; we actually practiced branding; and – undoubtedly – we had a great time.

Eugenia Naser is a student in the Master in Marketing program at the Universidad de San Andrés in Argentina who studied at Kellogg as part of the International MBA Exchange Program during the winter quarter of 2013. She works for Latin America’s Regional Sales & Marketing team at Mercer based in Buenos Aires. Follow Eugenia on Twitter @EugeniaNaser.