Choosing the Right Branding Consultants to Name Your Company

Phil Davis

Branding & Naming Expert President of Tungsten Branding

What’s in a naming company?

If you ever attempted naming your new company or rebranding your business, then you probably have an appreciation for the difficulty involved in the process. It’s not just brainstorming names, it’s also creating a coherent brand message, crafting a tag line, obtaining the matching domain name, passing it through the trademark gauntlet, and the list goes on.

So now you’ve decided it’s a better investment of your company’s time, money and energies to let the pros do it. The question becomes just who are the best branding consultants for the job? The answer depends on a number of items, including:

• The size of your firm (i.e. small start up or multi-national conglomerate)

• The number of services you need (i.e. name only vs. name/tag line/logo/domain name/linguistic check/global trademark availability, etc.)

• The amount of your budget you are willing to invest (a few thousand dollars or a few hundred thousand dollars).

• Your branding strategy (creative/clever names; coined/invented names; literal/descriptive names; positive connotation names, etc.).

• Your naming criteria (i.e. must have the exact matching domain, must be available globally, must have unanimous agreement among staff and board members, etc.)

In general it’s best to use naming firms for these assignments vs. more generalized marketing firms. For one, they specialize in nothing but naming and brand development so they are familiar with the many challenges. Secondly, they are not looking to push through the naming process in order to earn your advertising budget – they are there just to brand you. There are approximately 50 to 100 naming firms, mostly U.S. based, to choose from. Most are listed on DMOZ.org. So there is your list, now which one(s) to choose. Here are some rules of thumb:

• If you are a start up on a more limited budget, go for the more boutique firms. They will be able to work with you more affordably and turn the work around more quickly.

• If you are a larger company or going through a rebranding process, then ask about the firm’s previous experience and specific naming process. Get an itemized list of the steps, time lines and just how the company manages the process, (especially if you have multiple decision makers.)

• Take a look at their client case studies to see what type of names they have generated in the past. Some naming firms are better at generating invented/coined names (also known as “empty vessel” names) while other firms aspire for more organic names. Some are great with product names, while others do best with corporate branding. Find the firm(s) that best reflect the feel and attitude you want in your brand name.

• Obtain bids from the top two or three naming agencies and compare them. The lowest price is not always the best deal. Be sure you are comparing apples to apples by reviewing what’s included (i.e. name, tag line, logo, domain name, trademark research, etc.)

• Review your findings, check references or testimonials and go with your gut feeling. Naming a company is part art and science, and each project is a custom job. So work with the firm you feel best matches your overall goals and objectives.

There is no one set formula for naming your company, but by doing your homework; you can find the best branding consultants to execute your particular naming strategy. In the end, you will have a solid company name that can serve as a platform for building your brand well into the future. And with the right professional help, you may just end up making a name for yourself!


About the author: With over twenty five years of company naming and branding expertise, Tungsten founder Phil Davis is a marketing and advertising veteran, having personally named over 250 companies, products and services worldwide. As a sought after branding expert, Phil has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Inc.com, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, and Newsday.

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