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Why is naming so f*%king hard?

Memory, Trademarks and Being Distinct.

Many of us encounter a common challenge when chasing creativity. That is, anything that is too different gets rejected outright because it doesn’t fit. Our minds attack the unique elements like white blood cells attack foreign cells in our bodies.This applies to naming as well. When it comes to brands, a name needs to be different enough to not conflict with other brands in the category, but not so different that our minds begin to attack them. These two concepts slightly overlap to create the slimmest of shared spaces on a Venn diagram.

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All this work is done merely to fulfill two of the three major criteria -- Trademark and Distinctiveness. All it takes is adding in our third circle, what is memorable to an audience, and we’ve answered the question “Why is naming so f*%king hard?”. It isn’t like finding a needle in a haystack, it's more like finding a needle made of straw in a field of haystacks.

This is just naming a brand to live within the trademark boundaries of the United States of America. When you shift your gaze to the European Union and China, where Trademark laws are “first to office” versus “first to market” you’re in for an even more interesting challenge.

Add on top of this additional criteria from your client, as in, the name must be no longer than two syllables, and you’ve got the exercise of naming the next Herman Miller chair.

An exploration of thousands of options, selecting and searching your “narrowed” list of hundreds, then visualizing nearly 100 names for the Herman Miller team to finally take the top 5 in for testing and clearance in the three big markets (North America, EU and APAC).

The result, Setu, is not only a Hindi word for Bridge, but also a yoga move. The chair, designed by a German design team, manufactured by Herman Miller and distributed globally, was intended to be the chair that bridges the places where we work and live.

The Setu chair has rivaled the Aeron for fame and fortune. It has become a seat worth sitting in all day or a relaxing spot to spend a moment in a conversation. The Setu by Herman Miller was protected globally, distinct in its origin and meaning and as memorable as the sticky piece of bubble gum you hope never to find underneath it.

Over this series of articles we will explore naming and why memorability, protectability and relevance are important to the next naming exercise you take up.

If you’re looking for an evaluation of your portfolio of names, reach out.

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Categories Branding, Naming

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