• August 12, 2022

What’s in a Name? Everything!

What’s in a Name? Everything!

What’s in a Name? Everything! 700 500 Michelle Breyer

Nakey. Yips. Aura Bora.

All of these SKU brands have fun names that grab the attention of the consumer.

A founder may create an exciting, innovative product. But one of the most important things to increase a brand’s chance of success is coming up with the right brand name – something catchy that helps stand out from other products.

We wanted to learn more about the process of what it takes to come up with the ideal name. So we went to Blake Mitchell, a principal at Interact, a strategic design studio that has helped name a number of brands, including Stem Ciders, Dr. Squatch and Koia.

SKU: Tell me a little about yourself and Interact Brands and some of the brands you have helped name.

Blake: I’m the principal of Interact Brands, a branding agency that is focused on the consumer space. Interact is a strategic design studio with deep knowledge and expertise in CPG. We’ve partnered with some of the biggest names in the industry and are responsible for launching brands that define categories. We have a rigorous naming process that has successfully been applied to several brands including Kettle & Fire, KOIA and several other brands that you likely have in your household.

DIgging into a brand’s reason for Being

SKU How did you learn how to name brands?

Blake: You learn very quickly that verbal branding can be just as important as visual branding. Naming sits at the crux of positioning and design, and as a result of lots of brand work, have honed a very unique capability. We are continuously perfecting our process but it always starts with digging into a brand’s reason for being to get inspiration and ensure the names we bring forward are tied to something the organization can lean into for the long term. Names should be sticky, tell a story and be easy to share. 

SKU: What are some of the considerations when naming a brand?

Blake: So many!

  • What does it sounds like when spoken (phoentics) vs what it’s like to read the name (visual)?
  • Does it carry inherent meaning (Monster, Apple, Mobil) or is it an empty vessel (Koia, Xerox, Kodak, etc)?
  • Will your name put you in a box that constrains over time (RadioShack, Perfect Keto, etc)?
  • What does the SEO for your name look like and will you have an uphill battle with someone well known (Pandora radio vs Pandora jewelry)
  • Can you get social media handles and URLs easily for the name?
  • Overall you want a name that project vision, has flexibility and above all, ownability in it’s category.

SKU: Tell me a little about the process.

From Hundreds of Names to one

Blake: Our process starts with a proprietary naming intake document that we’ve honed over the past seven years of building our naming practice. From this intake document we get very precise guardrails for our name – almost like a Myers-Briggs for your brand name. From there we generate hundreds of words and potential names and then put it through our strategic filtering process. We then cull down to about 50 viable names and take them through a light USPTO trademark search, along with a Google and Amazon search. We then narrow down to 10 finalists names, each with a definition, reason for why it works and present them to our clients for discussion. 

Taking the Stigma out of Renaming

SKU: Have you ever been asked to rename a brand?

Blake: More than you would think. KOIA, Beckon, Kettle&Fire and Noble Made are just a few examples. Many don’t know this but SKU alum Siete Foods used to be Must B Nutty Tortillas. Founders Miguel and Veronica Garza felt the limit the products they could sell and the company we could become. 

Renaming is always an opportunity to improve a brand and we recently wrote an article wiith BevNet/NOSH that destigmatizes this act.

SKU: What do you think are some of the most iconic brand names and what do you like about them?

Blake: I Can’t Believe it’s not Butter! (b/c it flies in the face of convention) KOIA (b/c it shows the power of an empty vessel name that eventually accrued meaning) and Liquid Death (b/c it provokes and highly memorable).

Blake Mitchell, principal at Interact