Brand architecture series: Death by naming ~ Brand Mix

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Brand architecture series: Death by naming

A problem common to many technology companies is a lack of a system or any kind of discipline over the naming of new products and technologies. Often, in the spirit of entrepreneurism and getting things done, those working on projects are the ones that choose the names more or less independently of each other.

The result, not surprisingly, is a jumbled and confusing mess that eventually starts to cause significant problems and inefficiencies.

The challenge, having gotten into this mess, is how to get out of it. Wiping the board clean and starting from scratch is rarely practical. The product names are deeply embedded not just in marketing collateral but also in code so the cost and time to make changes can be huge.

So, what to do? The good news is that technology companies are constantly evolving so they can make a lot of progress just by making sure that they have a coherent plan and naming guidelines for new products and services.

After that, it's a question of setting priorities. We have found a good approach is to start with names that are high in confusion, relatively easy to change and are likely to be around for some time and then work back though the list until the cost of changing the name starts to outweigh the benefit.

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