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C4 Versus 4C – Branding Too Close For Comfort?

My local BJ’s brochure advertised sales on these drink products:

I did a double take – were these the same brand or owned by the same company? Very similar names and colors.

Turns out they are different products owned by different companies. I investigated the trademark status of these names and found that they both are registered trademarks:

Both offer very similar products in the drink category (C4 has a powdered drink mix). They are registered in different International Classes, but the similarity of the marks is what is important and from a trademark standpoint C4 and 4C would be considered to be very similar.

I’m not questioning the trademark office, but I am questioning the management of C4. When they filed, they had to be aware of 4C (check the registration dates above). Why would you launch a product with a nearly identical name/branding to a competitor?


Dad Jokes

Photo Credit:

We all have heard “Dad Jokes.” Heck, I’ve been known to throw out a few when my daughters were younger, and I thoroughly enjoyed their eye rolls when I delivered the punchline.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a Dad Joke as “a wholesome joke of the type said to be told by fathers with a punchline that is often an obvious or predictable pun or play on words and usually judged to be endearingly corny or unfunny.”

If you are good at Dad Jokes, then you might be highly qualified to name craft beers. In fact, that is how Mark Carson got his job as “Chief Naming Officer” at High West Beer, a craft brewery in Austin Texas. Mark draws on his years of dad-joke-making to christen each beverage with a creative, catchy, punny moniker.

Here are some of the names Mark has developed:

  • Pursuit Of Hoppiness
  • Wheat the People
  • Lager? I Barely Knew Her
  • Malter White
  • Hefeweizenburg
  • Brews Almighty
  • Ale’s Well That Ends Well
  • On The Road A-Guinness (not to be confused with his other stroke of genius Smart Alek Guinness)
  • Hopportunity Knocks
  • What You Talkin Stout Willis
  • Beauty And The Yeast
  • Brewed Awakening
  • Hop To Conclusions
  • Jagged Little Pilsner

Mark named over two hundred new beers in his first week on the job including ‘It Takes Brew To Tango’ and ‘Hop-shank Redemption.’ Like a good Dad Joke teller, he never runs out of names!


A “reverse euphemism?”

Photo by Josefin on Unsplash

You’ve heard of a euphemism (a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant). Think downsized instead of fired. A correctional facility instead of a jail. Light bladder leakage instead of incontinence.

Well, here is a case where an organization is giving something a name that is MORE offensive in order to accomplish a worthy goal.

The Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board unanimously adopted a new term, “menstrual discharge collection devices” (MDCDs), to replace “feminine hygiene products,” aiming to clarify the essential nature of these items and end the discriminatory “tampon tax.”

The term change aims to eliminate debates in male-dominated legislatures regarding the necessity of taxing menstrual products and prevents arguments about comparable products for men.

Despite some initial resistance, the term “MDCDs” has gained acceptance, with Kentucky and Indiana already introducing bills using the new terminology, following the example of Texas and other states that have ended the tampon tax since 2016.

Applause for this creative use of naming!


The “Same But Different” Naming Strategy Strikes Again

Jeep Exploits This Strategy To Make Its Plug-In Hybrid More Accessible

Last month I wrote a full debrief of the “Same But Different” naming strategy that McDonaldsTM is using with its CosMc’s beverage-focused chain. I provided the science behind use of this strategy (and it is plentiful), but the TL; DR summary is familiarity breeds comfort when it comes to names of new ventures.

Recently JeepTM used the “Same But Different” strategy to launch its plug-in hybrid line “4 X e.” Even the clever logo design reinforces the plug-in aspect.

What Jeep is leveraging is decades of “4 X 4” communication. The public is so very comfortable with “4 X 4” as a moniker that putting a slight twist to it causes some people to notice the change. The replacement of the second “4” with “e” is a way to leverage that level of comfort into plug-in hybrids.

Even though I identified the “Same But Different” naming strategy in action, I am not a fan of its application here. “4 X 4” communicates a very specific quality of the vehicle. “4 X 4” indicates a system in which a vehicle’s engine powers all 4 wheels evenly with the end benefit of being able to get traction in messy situations like snow or off-road. “4 X e” twists that into something different.

Are these new Jeeps no longer 4 X 4? Have they reduced the effectiveness of the “4 X 4” capability of the plug-in hybrid Jeep? In other words, are “4 X e” vehicles less capable than regular Jeeps? If that creeps into the minds of consumers, this innovation is doomed!


The Brilliance of “Same But Different” As A Naming Strategy

How McDonald’s Is Using This Strategy To Appeal To A Competitor’s Customers

Did you know that if your name is Dennis, you are significantly more likely to choose dentistry as a career?

While “Dennis the Dentist” might sound funny to you, there was a study done on the role of someone’s name on their career choice. In Why Susie Sells Seashells by the Seashore: Implicit Egotism and Major Life Decisions Pelham, Mirenberg and Jones studied the role that people’s thoughts and feelings about themselves play in their important day-to-day decisions and behaviors. They concluded that because most people possess positive associations about themselves, most people prefer things that are connected to the self (e.g., the letters in one’s name).

The study on career choice examined the first names of Jerry, Dennis, and Walter which respectively ranked 39th, 40th, and 41st in frequency for male first names. A nationwide search focusing on each of these specific first names revealed 482 dentists named Dennis, 257 dentists named Walter, and 270 dentists named Jerry. Therefore, people named Dennis are significantly more likely than people named Jerry or Walter to work as dentists, which suggests that people named Dennis do, in fact, gravitate toward dentistry.

As another example, the researchers examined the relationship of someone’s first name and the city in which they live. Believe it or not, there are a disproportionate number of men named Jack living in Jacksonville and Phil living in Philadelphia. There are a disproportionate number of women named Mildred living in Milwaukee, as well as Virginias living in Virginia Beach. While it is possible that people named Jack tend to settle in Jacksonville, the authors suggest that new parents might be more open to those names that are consistent with their environment. The study was replicated in Canada and found that, like their American counterparts, Canadian residents tended to reside in places that resembled their surnames.

“Familiarity breeds contempt” is a quote from one of Aesop’s fables. It seems that in the case of brand names, however, familiarity breeds comfort. In the real world, people named Paul prefer Pepsi while those named Carol prefer Coke. Psychologists call this the Name-Letter Effect, and it is a well-studied phenomenon first identified by Jozef Nuttin. The Coke/Pepsi effect was shown to be especially relevant when respondents were thirsty in a study by C. Miguel Brendl et al. Some psychologists attribute this effect to “Implicit Egotism.” Given the numerous scientific studies that back this theory, it is hard to argue with their conclusions.

This week McDonald’s opened CosMc’s, a beverage-focused chain, in a suburb of Chicago ( This article claims that the competitor McDonald’s is attacking is Starbucks, and to a certain extent that appears to be true. But a more likely scenario is McDonald’s has Sonic in its sights. Sonic is the #11 Fast-Food Chain in America and growing rapidly.

This is where McDonald’s is using the “Same But Different” naming strategy. CosMc’s is about as close to Sonic as you can get from a trademark infringement standpoint. The product lineup at CosMc’s is very similar to the beverage focus of Sonic. And the menu items that aren’t beverages are very snackable tasty treats, like Sonic.

So where does the “…But Different” come into play? McDonald’s is fortunate to have an incredible backstory with CosMc, an orange alien introduced in the 1980’s ( The name also leverages the “Mc” which is the anchor for everything McDonald’s. Finally, CosMc’s extends the “happy place” feeling of McDonald’s even further. Just look at this “mission statement” from the website:

At CosMc’s, you’ll find exactly what you need to take you to your happy place. And you’ll feel rejuvenated by more than just a drink. We know that everyday life can weigh us down.

So we’re on a mission to lift humans up with every sip.

As I’ve often said, when you see brilliance in naming, you have to call it out. Well played McDonald’s!


Five Steps To Develop Your Personal Brand

Personal Branding Is Not Just For Influencers — You Need It Too!

Photo by Christina @

I know, not another article on personal branding!

Here is a different way to think about it. “Personal Branding” is just a shortcut description of the process of figuring out who you are, what you stand for, how you interact with others, and where you are going in the future. I think everyone would agree that those are critically important things to understand and communicate. And that is what personal branding can do for you!

Personal branding is essential for leaders who want to be successful in their business efforts. Establishing a clear, concise, and compelling personal brand can enhance your trust and credibility, which can help in raising money or attracting public interest in your business. A strong personal brand can enable you to stand out from the crowd and establish yourself as an expert in your community. Finally, having a strong personal brand can lead to superior networking possibilities.

Building a personal brand may seem challenging, but it is actually a very simple process. This process mirrors the one I would use to develop a brand strategy when I was working at a top consumer products company. Here is the 5-step process for developing a personal brand:

  1. Identify your most important target audience.
  2. Define your role in your area of expertise.
  3. Communicate your meaningful point of difference.
  4. Provide the most important reason why one should believe this point of difference.
  5. Express your brand personality.

Let’s cover each step of the process in detail. Then I’ll show you how to put it together in a Personal Brand Positioning Statement that can be a touchstone for how to present yourself to the world.


While it is true that your personal brand will be exposed to everyone, you should not consider “everyone” to be your Target Audience. An effective leader will tailor his/her brand to the Target Audience that is most relevant.

Seth Godin is a marketing genius, and his book This Is Marketing contains an entire chapter dedicated to finding “The Smallest Viable Market” for your business, product, or service. Seth advocates starting small. Here are some relevant quotes from Chapter 4 of his book:

· “The relentless pursuit of mass will make you boring, because mass means average, it means the center of the curve, it requires you to offend no-one and satisfy everyone.”

· “Instead of trying to reach everyone,” he says, “we should seek to reach the smallest viable audience and delight them so thoughtfully and fully that they tell others.”

· “‘It’s not for you’ shows the ability to respect someone enough that you’re not going to waste their time, pander to them, or insist that they change their beliefs. It shows respect for those you seek to serve, to say to them, ‘I made this for you. Not for the other folks, but for you.’”

Consider the most relevant niche market for your personal brand and don’t be afraid to start small!

Here is an example. A few years ago, I hired a handyman to install a new garage door opener. He did a fantastic job. I was so impressed by his dedication to the quality of his work that I tried to get him to help me with some other projects. And even though these projects were well within his skillset he told me no, that he only did garage door openers. He said that focusing on garage door openers was enough to keep him busy, and because that was all he did he could delve into the intricacies of different manufacturers and models, to enable him to install all types of openers with ease. He truly was an expert in this niche, and I have recommended him to others who need to have a garage door opener installed. But don’t ask him to do anything else!


What do you call yourself? Are you a consultant? Are you a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer? Are you an expert in a specific field? Answer the question: What do you do?

Where do you operate? Consider geography if geography is important (e.g., a local plumber). Consider the scope of your operations (e.g., if you own a limousine are you in the transportation business or are you in the wedding party business or the bachelor party or prom business?).

The goal is to be able to communicate what you do in your area of expertise with just a few words. It could be as simple as “I’m a CPA who specializes in small business taxes.”


What is your unique “special sauce” that you, and only you, provide. Your Point of Difference should be the most compelling and motivating benefit that you can own in the hearts and minds of your Target Audience.

The word own is bolded and italicized because that is critically important. To establish a strong positioning in the marketplace, you must have a compelling and motivating benefit that you can own.

Here is a 3-step process to identify your Point of Difference:

Identify aspects of your product or service that your competitors cannot imitate. Put a star beside anything that cannot be easily duplicated, reproduced, or copied.
Decide what emotional need is being specifically met by your product or service. Think about this from the perspective of your Target Audience and add it to your list.
Answer the question your customers are asking: “What’s in it for me?” Make it to the point and state it as a benefit to the customer. Such as:

  • Target: “Expect more. Pay less.”
  • U.S. Peace Corp: “The toughest job you’ll ever love.”
  • M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
  • FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.”

Your Point of Difference should be so clear that it stands out in a field of competing voices. For example, if my water heater dies, I’m calling “Mr. Water Heater” who offers “same day service.”


Tell me why I should believe the meaningful Point of Difference. Provide evidence to support your claim. You could offer proof (over 1000 satisfied clients) or endorsement (recommended by Good Housekeeping or Angi) or expertise (only Bill Smith has served in both the House of Representatives and the Senate) or explanation (I’ve worked with disadvantaged youth since 1995 and have personally ensured that more than 100 have graduated from college) or even reviews (cite comments from people who have worked with you in the past).


Personality is all about how you will interact with your Target Audience. Personality humanizes your brand in the eyes of your Target Audience.

The traditional way to develop your Brand Personality is to describe your brand as a person. In other words, if you walked into the room, how would someone describe you? Is this the way you wish to be perceived? If not, consider how you might change your personality.

For example, in the comparison between Apple and Microsoft, Apple would be a young, hip, creative type and Microsoft would be an older, mature professional type. In fact, this difference was visualized in the famous “Mac versus PC” ads (


Once you have done the work on each component, you should put them together in a Personal Brand Positioning Statement. Here is how I would do it:


As an example, here is a Brand Positioning Statement for a small business CPA:

To owners of small businesses (under $1 million in sales), I am a CPA/tax preparer who is uniquely qualified to assist small businesses in tax preparation because I have 25+ years of experience in small business tax preparation and have a long list of satisfied clients. My brand personality is competence as evidenced by being intelligent and highly skilled, reliable in delivering results on time and within budget, and hard working (I work until the client is happy).


Personal Branding is an essential tool for business professionals to use to communicate who you are, what you stand for, how you interact with others, and where you are going in the future. A clear, concise, and compelling personal brand can supercharge your career, lead to immense personal growth, and maximize the impact you have in your areas of influence.


Name It So Google Finds It

A lot of new businesses have jumped on the “Name It So Google Can Find It” #naming trend. Here are a few examples:

Thai Food Near Me™ (

Barber Shop Near Me (

Plumber Near Me ™ (

Launching your business with an SEO-driven name can be a powerful marketing tool, as long as there aren’t other companies with similar names. Google will even help with your marketing efforts, as the autofill feature often suggests “near me” as an appendage to a search term.

HT to The Verge:


What Type of Name Do You Want?

Name generation is easier if you decide on the type of name you want before you start developing names

Source: Author All Rights Reserved

Before you start thinking about a new name for your business, product, or service, you should pause and think about what type of name you want. I developed the chart above in conjunction with a trademark attorney. It classifies names into 5 different categories and notes the trademark strength of each (trademark strength improves from left to right) . Let’s examine the categories (from left to right).


Generic names are not ownable. They are not trademarkable. They offer no real insight into what your product can do. In short, generic names are useless. And yet many entrepreneurs want to develop generic names.

Stop it please. I understand that a generic name like communicates a class of products/services, and therefore seemingly implies ownership of that class of products/services. In reality, the opposite is true.

Consider the efforts brands like Kleenex or Band-Aid or even Google undertake to avoid becoming generic names that indicate a category. The reason they do this is simple: If you become generic, you lose the trademark. Here are a few examples of brand names that have lost their trademarks because they became generic: linoleum, cellophane, zipper, trampoline, dumpster, escalator, laundromat, and even aspirin were all once trademarked product names that have become generic names.

Never seek a generic name!


One step up the trademark scale are descriptive names. Sometimes trademarks are possible for descriptive names. Sometimes they are not. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut rule to clarify this dilemma. But I have seen many descriptive names get bounced by the US Trademark Office.

Entrepreneurs love descriptive names. The main reason is entrepreneurs feel that having a name that describes what the product is or what it does is like getting free advertising. And that may be true. Unfortunately, most of the other entrepreneurs in your space had the same idea.

Here is an example. If you have developed a new food chopping device that enables you to chop food into smaller pieces faster, then you may want to name this product “Fast Chop” because “fast chopping” is the main benefit of the product. In doing so, you may believe that you will save money on advertising because every package of the product is a descriptive billboard that communicates the main product benefit!

Unfortunately, you may be failing to consider that the competitive set consists of products called EZ Chop, Speed Chop, QuickChop, TurboChop, etc. Nobody is going to notice your “Fast Chop” product even if the name is prominent on the package. Any advertising that is done will be wasted as well. Consumers may think the product is great, but when they get to the shelf, they will be confused by all the similar names and similar products.

Is a descriptive name a good idea? Possibly. Here is how I would decide. Get the names of up to 10 competitors of your product. Then place them on the graphic of the spectrum presented at the beginning. If your competition clusters around descriptive names, then you should avoid that area because you will never stand out versus the competition. If, on the other hand, your competition is concentrated in the fanciful or coined names area, a descriptive name might be welcomed by your target audience.


I’ll admit I’m biased, but I consider suggestive names to be the trademark sweet spot. They are usually trademarkable. They often suggest some benefits of your product or service. They have the potential to be differentiated against the competition.

And they can become quite powerful brand names. Consider these examples:

· Twitter — The dictionary defines Twitter as: A light, but frequent chatter from birds. Isn’t that a perfect name for a social media network designed to encourage brief conversation? (BTW don’t get me started on the switch to X!).

· Dove — Dove: A delicate bird with a soft cooing call. A perfect name for a gentle skin care line?

· Pampers — Pamper: Indulge every comfort and kindness. Isn’t that perfect for your baby?

The reason I like suggestive names is they create a “mind puzzle” with your branding. When the name is somewhat ambiguous, the customer will then have to find a way to make the connection between the name and the product. Often the customer will spend time trying to figure out why the name was chosen, which can lead to higher recall of the name later and positive attributions to the product. If you use a slightly ambiguous name, the consumer might actually enjoy the “mind puzzle” and won’t have to work too hard to get your point. When consumers solve the puzzle, they will then have a sense of accomplishment because they were able to figure it out.


Arbitrary names are another wonderful option. In this case you use a real word but use it out of context. Examples include Apple, Nike, and Amazon. In each case, the name is a real word that can be found in the dictionary, but the intended meaning of the brand name is different from the dictionary meaning.

They are a little more subtle than a suggestive name. A suggestive name’s meaning is closely aligned with a product benefit. An arbitrary name is not (although company founders often rationalize the name choice with a far-fetched story). Steve Jobs named the company Apple because he liked the fruit. Later, a backstory was developed to suggest the name Apple was a good fit for the brand positioning because Apple products are “fun, spirited and not intimidating.”

Arbitrary names require additional advertising and PR support to establish the linkage to product benefits. But in the end, they can be very strong brand names.


Fanciful names are the trademark attorney’s dream date and the marketer’s nightmare.

Names that are made up (like Exxon, Kodak, or Pixar) are the easiest to get trademarked because they have little competition. But they are a marketer’s nightmare because they require a substantial investment to generate meaning.

As a name developer, I love the freedom that fanciful names allow. But honestly, they are usually a difficult sale to a client (unless of course the client thought of it first!). Trying to convince a CEO that a random name makes sense for the product is never easy. And consumer testing of fanciful names is particularly frustrating because consumers have no context for the name and often rank fanciful names well below more traditional choices.

Despite the shortcomings, if you have the opportunity to launch a breakthrough fanciful name you can be perceived as innovative and forward thinking. If your situation allows fanciful names, you should consider them!


In reality, 4 out of 5 of these categories of names will work (please say no to generic names). Obviously, you may have a personal preference for one category and if you want that type of name then go for it! Just be careful about the influence of existing competitive names.

Here is a visual way to demonstrate the competitive issue. In the three groups of circles shown below, the circle in the center is always the same size. However, as you can see, the center circle looks smaller or larger based upon the size of the other circles surrounding it. The group of circles on the right has six similarly sized circles, and you can see how it is impossible to distinguish one from another. It is far better to be the outlier, such as the center circle in the first two groups of circles.

Don’t be like the group of circles on the right. Make sure you choose the type of name that will help you stand out from your competitors.

Choose the type of name you want before you start brainstorming! It will make your task easier!


How to Use AI to Generate Names for Your Startup

A professional name developer (me) suggesting that you use AI to generate names? Blasphemy!

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

Yes, it’s true. I’m suggesting that you use AI to generate names. NOTE: I emphasized the word generate because I am not suggesting that you use AI to analyze or choose the name you will use.

I’ve always said the hard part of being a professional name developer is not generating names, but rather deciding on the best names from a massive list of names. The reality is you should not have a hard time generating names, but most of us don’t know how to pick the perfect name from the masses. That is why you pay a professional name developer!

But many people cannot afford to hire a professional name developer, and that is why a lot of people are jumping on the “AI Name Generation” bandwagon. And frankly, I know many name developers who use AI to generate names to round out the effort of human name generators (myself included).

The good news? AI is really good at generating names if, and only if, you provide it with proper direction.

The bad news? You will be inundated with names. So many names. You will feel like you are trying to get a drink from a fire hose. So the new challenge becomes “how do I choose the right name?”

Fortunately, there is a straightforward process to make AI work for you.

Step 1: Proper Direction

Giving AI proper direction to generate relevant names is not easy. In fact, “Prompt Engineers,” people who spend their day coaxing AI to produce better results, are a hot career option right now.

If you are not an AI whisperer, fear not. You can leverage the knowledge of others by looking at sample AI prompts on this website. Once you get the idea of what makes a good prompt, you can develop one for your name generation exercise.

I strongly suggest that you provide AI with as much strategic information on your naming task as you can. I would include specifics on your target audience, the market in which you compete, your unique selling proposition, the brand personality, and much more. If you want to get a better understanding of the strategic elements of the naming effort, you can check out my DIY Naming book (

I’ve constructed a sample prompt for you below (the product is a novel toilet plunger and the info below is totally made up). I used this prompt with ChatGPT and got the following:

ME: You are a professional naming expert with great skill in developing names. Come up with ten names for a toilet plunger that indicate the plunger minimizes the effort to clear a clogged toilet. Unlike other toilet plungers, you just have to push once and the clog is cleared. While other toilet plungers talk about power, we want to talk about easy to use. The toilet plunger will likely be purchased by men aged 25 to 65 at a home improvement store such as Home Depot or Lowe’s. Please give the meaning behind each name and your rationale for recommending each name.

CHATGPT: Sure, here are ten name options for a toilet plunger that minimizes the effort required to clear a clogged toilet:

  1. EasyPush: This name highlights the ease of use by emphasizing that all it takes is one push to clear a clogged toilet.
  2. OnePush: This name is simple and straightforward, emphasizing that users only need to push the plunger once to clear the clog.
  3. QuickClear: This name highlights the speed and ease of clearing a clog with this plunger, with the emphasis on “quick” and “clear.”
  4. Effortless: This name emphasizes that the plunger requires minimal effort to use and clears clogs easily.
  5. PushClear: This name combines the action required to use the plunger with the end result of clearing the clog, emphasizing that all it takes is one push to clear a clogged toilet.
  6. ClogEase: This name combines the words “clog” and “ease” to emphasize the easy-to-use nature of the plunger.
  7. SwiftPlunge: This name emphasizes the speed and efficiency of the plunger, with the word “swift” conveying a sense of quickness.
  8. OneShot: This name is concise and memorable, emphasizing that users only need to use the plunger once to clear the clog.
  9. SmoothClear: This name combines the ideas of ease and efficiency, emphasizing that the plunger provides a smooth and easy way to clear a clogged toilet.
  10. EasyClear: This name is simple and straightforward, emphasizing the ease of use and the end result of a clear toilet.

Overall, these names focus on the ease of use and efficiency of the plunger, with names like EasyPush, QuickClear, and ClogEase emphasizing the ease of clearing clogs, while names like OnePush and OneShot emphasize the minimal effort required. Names like Effortless and SmoothClear combine both ideas to emphasize both the ease and efficiency of the plunger.

So how did ChatGPT do? I’d give it a B minus. If you are looking for functional names that indicate the benefits, then you might score it higher. But there is no “Swiffer” equivalent here. Of course, you could tweak your prompt and try again until you get a healthy list of names that you like.

NOTE: I’m guessing that none of these names would pass trademark clearance, as functional names saturate most markets.

Step 2: Sorting and Screening

Once you get a list of ten names you like, you might want to pause and evaluate. There are 4 important evaluation steps you must complete:

1. Does the name align with your strategy? Does it address the needs of your target audience? Does it hint at your point-of-difference? Perhaps it suggests a rationale for the product. Is the brand personality expressed in the name?

2. Is the name clearly differentiated versus your competition? Does the name sound like your competitor’s name? Would people confuse the two? If you put your name on a competitor’s product, would it work?

3. Is the name available from a trademark standpoint? You can’t mess around with this one. You must see if the name is in use elsewhere. If you do a Google search and see someone else using the name, then in general you can’t use it. You should also examine the US Trademark Office records here:

4. What does your target market think of the name? The best way to validate your name is to ask your target audience what they think. Big companies would commission a several thousand-dollar market research study to accomplish this task. You can do this for a fraction of the cost by using a cost-effective research tool like 1Q ( Simply ask the following question using your final name selections, and you can get results for as little as $1 per question per respondent:

We’ve created a new toilet bowl plunger that minimizes the effort to clear a clogged toilet. What should we call it?

a. FastFlush

b. Magic Plunger

c. Perfect Plunge

d. MegaPlunger

e. Plungeriffic

You can spend $100 and get a good understanding of which names rise to the top from 100 members of your target audience.

If you need more details, each of these steps are covered in detail in my DIY Naming book.

Step 3: Decide

This one is easy! Simply use the Name Evaluation Tool (available free at ) to score the name you have chosen. If your name scores well then you could be done! If not, rinse and repeat!

You can use AI to help you develop a winning name! If you need further assistance, feel free to reach me at!


The Naming Lesson From The Pac-12 Fiasco

The Pac-12 college football conference no longer has 12 teams. In fact, after the recent departures, they are down to 4 teams. Conversely, the Big Ten Conference now has 14 teams and will soon have 18. The Big 12 conference will grow to 16 teams.


Well, that is the issue with launching your brand with a name that immediately limits your expansion potential.

When the Big Ten Conference added Penn State in 1990 they grew to 11 teams. They tried to finesse their branding by including the number 11 in the negative space around their name:

The Big Ten had 11 teams for 20+ years until they added Nebraska in 2011 and then rapidly added Maryland and Rutgers. They modified their logo to just say “10.”

However, those clever logo gymnastics would not have been necessary if the people in charge of the brand had followed an important rule of name development: Names should allow for future expansion. Clearly the Big Ten Conference name was a gross violation of this principle.

Another brand name in the news has also demonstrated a violation of this principle: When the company was started in 1997 it had a very niche positioning – selling excess inventory from other companies. But over time the name has proven to be limiting as the company grew to include many other product lines that were not just excess inventory. recently acquired the digital assets of Bed Bath & Beyond, and has relaunched as Bed, Bath & Beyond. In particular, the “& Beyond” flexibility overcomes the limitations of the name.

But they would not have had to do that if they had chosen a more flexible name in the first place.

I get it. Companies with a niche positioning want to focus on the very narrow definition of the brand. And in the Big Ten Conference situation, I don’t think anyone was considering how significant the brand would become when it was named in the 1950’s.

But CEO’s need to provide long-term thinking and expansion possibilities when considering the name.

My advice is to always allow for future expansion in the name. That is one of the key points in my Name Evaluation Tool (available free at

In the meantime, Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac-12…I’m available if you want to rebrand!

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