DOES THE PROJECT KICK-OFF TRULY SET THE STAGE FOR SUCCESS?
Every project begins by building a cross-functional team for optimal collaboration. Your partner agency should have a solid hand in helping you structure just the right project team for the best chance of success. The best teams are immersive client-agency partnerships, with veteran executives (involved in the entire project beginning to end), expert project managers (with the right tools to manage resources and timelines), experienced creative teams (with global perspective), and legal resources (with established skill in trademark and common-law research).
It goes without saying, that a team too small limits knowledge, and a team too large limits productivity. There will likely be many key internal stakeholders who want a say in the creative options, but who are not a part of the day-to-day project decisions. Your partner agency should have well developed methods for allowing this input without stagnating progress.
Once the dream-team is assembled you and your partner will begin the process of identifying and aligning on the optimal strategy before the creative process begins. It is crucial to set the stage with a clearly defined strategy. This will be the road map to success for the project, ensuring that all creative, review and refinement follows your company’s desired vision and purpose.
Agencies can differ significantly in the activities used to define the strategy. The best brand developers use innovative ideation activities that think outside–the–box and not only identify obvious brand attributes, but also subtle or newly discovered product, company, and customer attributes. If this ideation is flat, with generic questionnaires, you can be assured the creative will be too.
Read our blogs – The importance of internal buy-in, Incorporating executive and extended teams into the naming process, Brand Architecture 101, and Case Study Empro for more information.
IS THE CREATIVE PROCESS STRATEGIC, FRESH, INNOVATIVE, AND GLOBAL?
Once you have confidence in the strategic direction, next you will want to deep dive into the agency’s methodology for creative and name candidate evaluation and validation. Often, the naming process is thought to be nothing more than generating a list of potential names based on a few surveys and some market research. To ensure that a name is clear, consistent, and compelling, the process must be much more than that.
There can be numerous ways in which creative paths can be discovered. Make sure there will be a proper balance between innovative discovery, fresh creative and strategic precision. This is the time to be open minded and explore all your options. Ensure that the creative team has significant industry experience, diversity, and global representation and that you feel confident the names presented will explore a broad range of unique word parts.
A few words of caution. Find out if your agency of consideration plans to repeat the same names in multiple list presentations, a common industry short-cut which results in far less innovation and far fewer names for consideration. The list review process should include multiple iterations, each of which acts as a springboard for new discovery and creativity. Do not settle for recycled name candidates selected from databases and previously presented to your competitors. You would be surprised at how prevalent this is in the industry. After years of product innovation, planning, blood, sweat and tears, why would you settle for a recycled name?
IS LEGAL AVAILABILITY A PRIORITY OR AN AFTER-THOUGHT?
It stings to settle on a great naame that perfectly represents your product, your company, your market and is agreed on by all key stakeholders – only to have it rejected by your legal team or even worse, to become embroiled in legal conflict. Your naming agency should be equipped to help you avoid legal conflicts. With the substantial number of trademarks in your industry, this is an absolute must consideration for the early stages of the project. Find out who is doing the vetting, what credentials they carry, and what tools they will use. The tools used by trademark screeners should be just as robust as those your legal team uses for trademark validation, namely Corsearch, Thomson CompuMark, or TrademarkNow. Trademark viability for each name candidate should be vetted conjointly with the creative phase, not in later phases of the project. This upfront vetting ensures that your project team will not waste valuable time reviewing name options with predictable legal conflicts. Lastly, ensure the trademark results are transparently shared. You should receive a work product delivering the trademark results that you may share with your legal counsel to aid in paring down prioritized creative options.
Read our blogs – Does the length of a trademark matter, Goods and services in trademark research, and I.P. 101: The difference between Trademarks, Service Marks, Copywrites, & Patents for more information.