Chain of Children’s Dental Offices We Named Launches

Smart Mouth

As you would expect, lots of their competitors have “smile” in their names. So instead, the name Smart Mouth makes you smile.

Using the word “smile” in a name is explanative, using words that cause your audience to smile is demonstrative.

In naming & branding, as in all aspects of life, demonstrating is always more effective than explaining.

It’s also a twist on a descriptive name, saying “It’s a Smart choice for your Mouth” and that the dentist is “Smart about Mouths”.

Since parents, not kid’s are the audience, giving them a laugh about their kids makes it work, makes it warm – and unforgettable.

Our Latest Naming Work: Sliver Vodka

An extraordinarily interesting and challenging naming assignment: Find a name that works for “All natural fruit infused” AND it had to be “a sexy / edgy name”.

“Sliver” is spot on the confluence of these seemingly disparate ideas.

And of course the name had to be a word that “had never been used for a food or beverage anywhere in the world”. Simple.

Sliver Vodka

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How To Create Compound Names Like Instagram, Snapchat & Airport

Instagram and Snapchat are identical constructions. Each simply substitutes new words from an accepted utility name: Instant Message. Insta & Snap are synonyms for Instant, and Gram & Chat are substitutes for Message.

Since Instant Message is already a universally adopted name, you know that Instagram and Snapchat will be accepted as well. If what you’re naming doesn’t map to a two-word generic, break it down into one first.

You can do this by re-purposing an unrelated, well-known compound word, as in Apple’s Wi-Fi base station being called “Airport” – a port accessed through the air. It’s easy to remember and readily embraced because everyone knows the word Airport already.

Proposing a name like Airport to a committee will be met with immediate pushback such as, “Everyone hates the experience of an airport” or, “Last time I was there they cancelled my flight, I had to sleep on the floor and I missed my child’s birthday” or “The first thing I think of is stress, long lines and bad service”- as if any of this will make the name less successful, which of course it doesn’t.

As soon as the name Airport is applied to a Wi-Fi device the primary definition disappears, your audience puts the clever double meaning together in their heads in an “aha!” moment, and smile at the humanity you’ve brought to the game. They will think well of you and warmly embrace the name and its new meaning. And never forget it. You are immediately best of breed in their minds, having uttered only a single word.

Because this simple concept is inherently difficult for corporations, names like Airport are rare indeed – but they do happen.


Tesla – Anatomy of a Great Company Name

Tesla is a fantastic name for revolutionary electric car company, but not a name that could navigate a typical corporate naming process and survive.

The death of a thousand cuts would include:

  • We can’t acquire, we’d have to use, a non-starter. is available. Let’s go with “Electrificity” instead – we can get the domain.
  • Nicola Tesla’s inventions were all in AC, not the DC battery power the cars use. Edison was the man when it came to DC. Tesla advocated the opposite
  • Most people don’t know who Tesla was
  • “Tesla” was a big selling ’80s hair band

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Most Teslas are sold online, and though they were unable to secure, they knew the common wisdom that going with would hurt sales was and is nonsense.

Tesla knew it was a great name even though Mr. Tesla’s work was with AC electricity, not the DC electricity the car runs on, which was the domain of Edison. They knew Tesla is a much sexier word attached to a sexier, more mysterious personality. The name Edison is just boring all around. So no one cares about the glaring discrepancy – they just associate the name with electricity.

For Tesla, going with the domain and using the name Tesla was a better move than changing the name to Electrificity or some such because they could get the

Tesla is memorable, has a great look, sound, meaning, mystery and sexiness to it. Do you walk away from that over domain availability? (Hint: “What would Elon Musk do?”)

We are all for a matching domain name, but it must be a powerful one.

Igor’s CEO on NY1

July 30, 2015

How One Man Helped Name Many of Today’s Popular Travel Brands

By Valarie D’Elia


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One man’s agency is behind the names of many popular travel brands. Time Warner Cable News’ Valarie D’Elia filed the following Travel with Val report.

Vegas hotels with names such as Wynn, Aria and the Signature at MGM Grand come from a partnership with the creative mind of Steve Manning. He is the founder of Igor Naming Agency, a 13-year-old business in Marin County, California.

“You’ve got to do something that taps into people’s brains and makes sense, and makes them sort of say, ‘Oh yeah, I get it,'” Manning says.

Sure, naming the Wynn hotel after the owner might seem like a no-brainer.

“He really signed the hotel, sort of like an artist would sign a work of art,” Manning says.

He got into the name game not long after a stint at the Travel Channel, so he knows the territory.

“Northwest, Southwest, United, American – those are all really the same types of names. They’re just moving a few key words around,” Manning says. “Until somebody comes along and names something Virgin, and suddenly that’s a different game.”

Manning usually presents 45 names to a client before one sticks, so he knows how tricky the process can be.

“Somebody’s going to raise their hand and say, ‘What if we have an accident? The headline will read JetBlue-up.’ It takes them a while to realize that people won’t associate car theft with Hotwire, nor do people think that the pilots at Virgin are inexperienced,” he says. “But that’s people’s gut reaction when they try to name something and you have to help them get over that fear.”

And that in-flight wireless at our fingertips? Yep, Manning named it originally for Richard Branson.

“You know the name GoGo worked with the Virgin brand, like go-go dancers – plus it’s on the go and it’s kind of fun and exciting,” Manning says. “But also, once it starts going on the other aircrafts, you don’t think of Virgin.”

Why are “Hotwire” & “Pandora” Powerful Names?

To understand why they work so well, you have to get literal for a moment:

Hotwire = “to steal a car”

Pandora = “unleashed plagues, diseases & all the evils of mankind”

These types of meanings will get a name dismissed ASAP by a naming committee – a committee that would have been wrong to dismiss these names, obviously.

Consumers don’t attribute these literal, negative qualities to the companies who use Hotwire & Pandora as their company names (you don’t, do you?). But naming committees erroneously believe they will.

In each case the name is a metaphor for something about the company. Hotwiring a car is a “hack”, Hotwire positions the site as a travel hack – a way around high prices. Pandora Radio is a marketplace, positioned metaphorically as a “box full of intrigue”.

When juxtaposed in line with the company’s positioning, the names simply become interesting – they have personality. They demonstrate confidence and uniqueness. Metaphorically re-purposing the negative is what makes them so positive.

The names are provocative, differentiating and memorable.

From a business perspective, these names are a pure positive, derived from a literal negative. It’s called “The Principle of Negativity”.

Don’t fear the Negative – well executed, it’s a Positive.