Naming: Would a rose by any other name really smell as sweet?

Shakespeare had an inkling of what a name means in the grand scheme of things. However, if a rose was called a stink blossom, it would smell as sweet – but there would likely be a lot less people lining up to take a whiff.

As a creative agency that does quite a bit of branding from the ground up, MTC knows that there’s quite a bit to finding, or even creating, the right name. Naming can be quite a challenge, due to the multitude of already existing brands, bad connotations, local taboos and even personal biases. So, in our naming process, the first step is to generate quantity. We compile a list of names internally; good, bad and everything in between. We want all the names we can get that have some reason, any reason, why they may work. These names can come from a myriad of categories, including, but not limited to:


  • Origin or historical names inspired by where the product came from or is located (Tesla, Samsung, Ford, Winchester Lofts)
  • Invented names are made up names that can include conjoined words (a.k.a. portmanteaus), technical words, alternate spellings, etc. (FedEx, BisQuick, VitaMix)
  • Descriptive names of the product or attribute of it (7-Eleven, Under Armour, Gatorade)
  • Acronyms (IBM, BMW, NBC)
  • Metaphoric names that relate to stories, art, myth, literature, etc. (Apple, Starbucks, Nike)
  • Seemingly random names that depart from the ordinary, sometimes playful or cheeky (Yahoo!, lululemon, Haagen Dazs)

Then, from the big list of names, we edit. We probe for the good ones, or at least the names that are interesting or headed in the right direction. The team goes round after round circulating names, adding and subtracting until we distill the big list into a short list that best fits the product, with names that have a degree of “ownability”, so that the new brand can effectively carve out a unique space in the industry landscape for itself.

The next step is explaining why these names are right to our client. Through mood boards and a rationale, we try to capture the essence of the name and how it relates to the product, why it works and the overall feel of the brand. From this point, it’s up to the client to determine what works for them. Naming is highly personal and somewhat subjective, and there really is no right answer when it comes to choosing a name (though we are glad whoever chose “rose” smartly passed on “stink blossom”).

If you’d like to know more about our process, or want to talk about naming in more depth, feel free to reach out. We’d be glad to chat.