Stephen King wrote, "The scariest moment in writing is just before you start." For many companies, the prospect of hiring a naming agency is filled with nearly as much uncertainty as the process of naming itself. In order to feel more confident with your selection of a naming company, regardless of who you ultimately hire, here are a few things to consider:
- Check out the agency's portfolio. Have they created any great names? Do they demonstrate the ability to create a range of names, or only a narrow niche? Do any of the names resonate with you?
- Does the agency have a well-developed process for creating names? Is it transparent and easy to understand, or is it missing in action, hidden behind a proprietary TM-branded "black box" or riddled with alienating biz-speak and obfuscating consultant diagrams?
- Does the agency have a clear philosophy of naming? Do you get the sense that they live and breathe naming? Does it seem like they enjoy their job?
- Can you get company principals on the phone to discuss your project, and are they helpful, or are you routed to "account rep" intermediaries?
- Is the agency a thought leader, or a follower? Are they talking about the same things in the same way as all other naming companies, or do they offer a fresh perspective? Do they have strong opinions that they are not afraid to share? Do they engage in conversations, or is it mostly just one-way marketing chatter that's all about them and how awesome they are?
- Do you get the sense that working with this agency will be an enjoyable experience? Is their process interactive, encouraging your involvement and input? Are they good listeners?
- Is the agency's own name any good? Does it tell a story? Does it rise above the goods and services being offered? Has the agency invested it with meaning and built a strong brand identity for themselves?
What is the essence, the core value, of your brand? What is the core value of any company you hire, for naming, graphic identity, or advertising? It is no longer enough for brands just to shout messages for "consumers" to digest -- brands, companies must be engaged with their audience, society in general, and the world we all live in. So before you engage an agency to position you in the global village, make sure they understand the fundamental shift in how business is done that is going on right now, or they might just build you a glossy new pedestal to display your vision in a museum of dead brands.
Steve Jobs on understanding the essence of a brand
"Apple at the core, it's core value, is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better."