How to Name Your Life Sciences Company: Get Past the Obvious Names
This is part 8 in my series on naming your life sciences company. For previous posts, click here.
Your first goal was to create a massive list of names. This list should contain between 200-500 names. Many of these will simply be permutations of each other, but that’s okay.
As I’ve said before, the first list is about quantity; soon we will reach a point where we begin eliminating names.
Now, here’s a big secret about naming: It’s very, very difficult to get past the obvious names!
What do I mean by that?
Naming is a thought experiment.
Consider the following scenario:
Let’s say we wanted to create a name for a new product: a high-speed, ultrasonic, carrier pigeon. The device would resemble a real pigeon but could deliver messages and small packages at incredible speeds, globally. The pigeon is virtually indestructible. It is reusable. And it comes with a completely unique digital code for each message or package, so that only the recipient can open it.
To create our name, we pick a group of six intelligent, creative people and lock them in a room for 10 hours. We tell them to come up with 200 highly original (yet functional) names for this product.
Without telling them, however, we ask six other people to do the same task and put those individuals in a different room. We do this ten times, even choosing different cities for some of the groups. Ten hours later, we have each group give us their list.
Result: A lot of the names will be the same.
How is this possible?
We are all tapping into the same first level of the universal mind when we start naming.
When we begin brainstorming names, each of us will dismiss the consciously chosen names as “too obvious.”
We immediately recognize them as taken from movies, books, advertising jingles, myths, children’s rhymes, etc.
Then, we get to the next level of names and we feel like we are really hitting some original stuff. It resonates with us and gives off meaning―we’re certain those names have never been used before.
And that’s where one gets into trouble.
The name one works really hard to think of is often the same name that someone else will come up with. We’re all drawing from the same massive pool of experiences and phonetic resonances, but they’ve become invisible to us. The only way to get to the second level of unconscious thought is to:
First, write down all the obvious names to get them out of your system…
Then, keep brainstorming.
The second level of the unconscious mind is where the original thinking happens. This is where we can coin names that will strike an emotional response with the customer. These are the names that won’t sound obvious to them. People won’t say, “Hey, I could have named that.” Consequently, they are less likely to grow tired of the name quickly or view your product as trite.
It also makes it harder for your competitors to come up with a name that immediately strikes your consumer as more original or effective than your product.