Top secret Landor naming process document revealed

landor process

“Insert the proprietary Landor Naming Process Tool into the anal canal and twist until it grabs the membrane. Continue twisting another half turn, then steadily pull the proprietary Landor Naming Process Tool out of the canal. Extract 10 inches of membrane, tie the membrane off and cut.”

As with any process, the only true measure of success is what comes out the other end.


Says Blandor the Imponderable: “Oh deer! Perhaps I should butt out….No! My auricular has been opened, laid bare for all to observe! This time, no amount of blandiloquence will assuage this insolent corporate sabotage! And furthermore, we use a much larger mammal in our current work”

Company & Product Naming Workshops

We offer full & half-day naming workshops, onsite at your offices. Whether you need help to kick-start a project, are stuck in the middle of a naming exercise, or need assistance choosing a final name and getting approval and buy-in, we will customize a workshop to ensure the most powerful results for your naming needs.

A proven, logical and transparent process is essential to ensure the strongest, most effective results for any naming project. It is essential to establish agreed upon criteria within your organization on what your new name needs to do for you and provide a shared set of tools for your team to best create & evaluate names with.

These workshops are designed to assist you in the hands-on process of naming via the best practices outlined in our definitive Igor Naming Guide.

Our intensive workshop will take you in-depth through:

• Competitive Name Analysis
• Positioning
• Name Generation
• Name Evaluation
• Trademark pre-screening
• Naming Architecture Design
• Naming Process Design

And of course, the naming experts of Igor will be able to answer any and all of your questions about naming.

How to Name a Company / Product: The Crash Course

An important first step when naming a business, product or service is to figure out just what it is that your new name should be doing for you. The most common decision is that a name should explain to the world what business you are in or what your product does. Intuition dictates that this will save you the time and money of explaining it, which actually turns out not to be true. Why not?

The notion of describing your business in the name assumes that the name will exist at some point without contextual support, which, when you think about it, is impossible. The name will appear on a website, a store front, in a news article or press release, on a business card, on the product itself, in advertisements, or, at its most naked, in a conversation.

There is simply no imaginable circumstance in which a name will have to explain itself. This is fortunate, because having a descriptive name is actually a counterproductive marketing move which requires an enormous amount of effort to overcome. A descriptive naming strategy overlooks the fact that the whole point of marketing is to separate yourself from the pack. It actually works against you, causing you to fade into the background, indistinguishable from the bulk of your competitors.

The following is a list of companies in the naming and branding arena. While each of their names describes what they do, you can clearly see the heavy marketing price they pay for such a shortcut:

Brand-DNA (.com)
Brand-DNA (.net)
DNA Brand Mechanics
Brand 2.0
Brand Doctors
Brand Equity
Brand Evolve
Brand Fidelity
Brand Institute
Brand Mechanics
Brandjuice Consulting
Name Development
Name Sharks
Naming Systems
Naming Workshop
Absolute Brand
Building Brands
Real Branding
Core Brand
The Branding Iron
Spherical Branding
I.D.ENTITYIdentity 3.0
Brighter Naming
Corporate Icon
Wise Name
Creating New Names
The Name Works
ABC Namebank
The Naming Company
Ivarson Brand VisionStrategic Name Development
The Brand ConsultancyLexicon Branding
Independent BrandingTradingBrands
The Better Branding CompanyNot Just Any Branding

There are three pieces of advice that will serve you well in avoiding a similar dilemma:

  1. Names don’t exist in a vacuum: There are competitors–the idea is to distinguish yourself. Business is a competitive sport.
  2. Names don’t exist in a vacuum: The notion of describing your business in the name assumes that the name will exist at some point without contextual support. This is never true for any business or product.
  3. Names don’t exist in a vacuum: When judged without the context of a clear positioning platform and an intimate understanding of how names work and what they can do, the best solutions are either never considered or quickly dismissed.

For example, any one of the following intuitive concerns could have been enough to keep these powerful names from ever seeing the light of day:

Virgin Airlines

  • Says “we’re new at this”
  • Public wants airlines to be experienced, safe and professional
  • Investors won’t take us seriously
  • Religious people will be offended


  • Tiny, creepy-crawly bug
  • Not macho enough – easy to squash
  • Why not “bull” or “workhorse”?
  • Destroys trees, crops, responsible for famine

Banana Republic

  • Derogatory cultural slur
  • You’ll be picketed by people from small, hot countries


  • Yahoo!! It’s Mountain Dew!
  • Yoohoo! It’s a chocolate drink in a can!
  • Nobody will take stock quotes and world news seriously from a bunch of “Yahoos”


  • Unscientific
  • Unreliable
  • Only foretold death and destruction
  • Only fools put their faith in an Oracle
  • Sounds like “orifice”–people will make fun of us

The Gap

  • Means something is missing
  • The Generation Gap is a bad thing – we want to sell clothes to all generations
  • In need of repair
  • Incomplete
  • Negative


  • A slow, ugly, and dangerous fish–slow, ugly and dangerous are the last qualities we want to associate with our fast, powerful, sexy sports car
  • The “bottom feeding fish” part isn’t helping either

Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac

  • I don’t want hillbilly residents of Dogpatch handling my finances.
  • They don’t sound serious, and this is about a very serious matter.

As you can well imagine, this kind of negative deconstruction is at the root of why a committee can’t agree on a non-descriptive name that has any meaning. It’s also what gave birth to the second major school of bad naming: the “unique empty vessel” that “can become whatever you want.” Here are some of the victims:

Acquient, Agilent, Alliant, Aquent, Aspirient, Aviant, Axent, Axient, Bizient, Candescent, Cendant, Cerent, Chordiant, Clarent, Comergent, Conexant, Consilient, Cotelligent, Equant, Ixtant, Livent, Luminant, Mergent, Mirant, Navigant, Naviant, Noviant, Novient, Omnient, Ravisent, Sapient, Scient, Sequant, Spirent, Taligent, Teligent, Thrivent, Versant, Versent, Viant, Vitalent and Vivient.

As with the descriptive list, these names are not part of an elegant solution, they are the seeds of a branding nightmare. This type of name is arrived at because of the lust for a domain name, consensus building and as a shortcut to trademark approval. At some point in the process marketing left the room, and nobody seemed to notice. And while they may technically be unique, it’s at the level of a snow flake in a snow bank.

The third type of name is the evocative name. These include the aforementioned Apple, Stingray, Oracle, Virgin, Yahoo etc. While everyone respects evocative naming when done well, most corporations don’t go down this road because it’s the toughest to understand and execute.

On a very fundamental level, here are the basic ingredients of the best evocative names:


A competitive analysis is an essential first step. How are your competitors positioning themselves? What types of names are common among them? Are they all projecting a similar attitude? Do their similarities offer you a huge opportunity to stand out from the crowd?

Apple needed to distance itself from the cold, unapproachable, complicated imagery created by the other computer companies at the time who had names like IBM, NEC, DEC, ADPAC, Cincom, Dylakor, Input, Integral Systems, Sperry Rand, SAP, PSDI, Syncsort, and Tesseract.

They needed to reverse the entrenched view of computers in order to get people to use them at home. They were looking for a name that was not like a traditional computer company, and supported a Positioning Strategy that was to be perceived as simple, warm, human, approachable and different.


The next step is to carefully define your positioning. The idea is to position yourself in a way that rings true in a fresh way–that cuts through all of the noise out there. The goal is to have your audience personalize the experience of your brand, to make an emotional connection with it, and ultimately to take you in. To redefine and own the territory.

One of most important things that the best of the best brands accomplish is to be thought of as greater than the goods and services offered, to create an aspiration. Nike’s “Just Do It’ helps them rise above selling sneakers. Apple’s “Think Different” is bigger than computers. Fannie Mae’s “We’re in the American Dream Business” elevates them from mere mortgage brokers.

On a product level, Velveeta, Slinky, Mustang, Snapple, etc., are tapping into something outside of the narrow definition of what it is they do, and are allowing the consumer to make the connection, to personalize the experience. This type of active engagement created by playing off of images that everyone is already carrying around in their heads is an essential ingredient in creating a great name.

From there, a name should contain as many of the following qualities as possible. The more of them that are present, the more powerful the name:


  • A name that people will talk about.
  • A name that works its way through the world on its own.
  • A name that’s a story in itself, whether it’s at the local bar, on the job, or on CNBC.


  • What does the name suggest?
  • Does it make you feel good?
  • Does it make you smile?
  • Does it lock into your brain?
  • Does it make you want to know more?


  • How does the name physically look and sound?
  • How does it roll off the tongue?
  • How much internal electricity does it have?
  • How does it sound the millionth time?
  • Will people remember it?


  • Does the name have attitude?
  • Does it exude qualities like confidence, mystery, presence, warmth, and a sense of humor?
  • Is it provocative, engaging?
  • Is it a tough act to follow?


  • Is the name a constant source of inspiration for advertising and marketing?
  • Does it have “legs”?
  • Does it work on a lot of different levels?

The key is to step outside the box that the industry – any industry – has drawn for itself, and to do it in a fresh way that hits home with the audience. To accomplish this, it is necessary to think about names in this fashion:


  • Positioning: different, confident, exciting, alive human, provocative, fun. The innovative name forces people to create a separate box in their head to put it in.
  • Qualities: Self-propelling, Connects Emotionally, Personality, Deep Well.


  • Positioning: different, confident, superhuman, evocative, powerful, forward thinking.
  • Qualities: Self-propelling, Connects Emotionally, Personality, Deep Well.

Go back and see how the other names deconstructed above stand up when held to these high standards. These are the qualities that separate a potent, evocative name from a useless one that is built without a considered positioning platform, such as BlueMartini or FatBrain. Random names like these disallow audience engagement, because there are no pathways between the image and the product–there is no connection to be made.

Building Equity in a Name

We’ve name a lot of buildings here at Igor: Wynn Las Vegas, Aria Resort, The Signature at MGM, The Address in Dubai, The Wit in Chicago. Here’s a well written piece on the naming of high rise buildings in Manhattan. Via the NY Times:

ONE afternoon over the summer, eight people gathered in an office at the Corcoran Group to brainstorm names for a 29-unit condominium scheduled for completion in mid-2012.

To get the ball rolling, Stephen Glascock, the president of the project’s developer, Anbau Enterprises, reminded the assembled team of sales agents and marketing consultants that the building, soon to rise on West 23rd Street off the Avenue of the Americas, would be in a “a fun location” near Chelsea and the High Line.

“Nexus,” suggested one attendee. “Crossroads,” suggested another.

Not quite.

The building will be energy-efficient, Mr. Glascock continued. It will have fresh filtered air and insulation that dampens noise. His wrap-up: “It’s a good building. It’s a positive participant in the community.”

“It’s a good citizen,” piped up Amy Frankel, a managing partner of the branding agency IF Studio.



“We all looked at each other and said, ‘What a great name,’ ” Mr. Glascock recollected. “Let’s call the building Citizen.”

A landmark prewar facade or the latest in high-end amenities may be at the top of a buyer’s must-have list, but a stirring or lyrical name can be a powerful selling tool, too. A clunker, on the other hand, can be at best a puzzle, at worst a punch line.

“It’s Branding 101,” said Allen P. Adamson, a managing director of Landor, a corporate identity consultant. “A name tells a story, and a good name can tell a very strong story.”

Read the rest of the article

Focus Groups & Naming

We have always insisted that focus grouping names has a negative effect on the outcome. Our favorite Steve Jobs quote conveys the same idea in terms of product creation.

Via the May 25, 1998, issue of Business Week:

…it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why a lot of people at Apple get paid a lot of money, because they’re supposed to be on top of these things.

It’s true, you either know what you’re doing or you don’t.

Named by Igor – DirecTV announces “Audience”, a new premium network

Via Reuters:

New Name, New Look, New Logo on Tap For DIRECTV’s Original Programming Network

Beginning June 1, DIRECTV’s The 101 Network will transform itself into the Audience Network and become the new home for DIRECTV’s exclusive programming, which includes some of the smartest, most daring entertainment on television. The Audience Network will be accessible in 19.4 million homes on channel number 239.

The newly-branded network will focus on maintaining DIRECTV’s growing commitment to providing subscribers with premium network programming that can’t be seen anywhere else…

…“We’ve spent the last six years building this network into something very special,” said Derek Chang, executive vice president of Content Strategy and Development at DIRECTV.

“DIRECTV is the only television operator who provides customers with a premium quality entertainment network for free and the new name perfectly captures who we are doing this for, specifically our demographic, the DIRECTV audience.

When we performed our competitive analysis, it became clear that all of the movie / original programing network names had names that were product-centric and they all contained common terms associated with performance and film: Showtime, Home Box Office, Cinemax, Starz, Bravo, Arts & Entertainment, etc. No one was naming and positioning themselves for the consumer – it was all one-note chest thumping – the names are all interchangeable. There was an opportunity to have a name that was different, a name that was about the audience rather than about the product.

Incredibly, though the word “Audience” appears in virtually every movie review and every article about a television network, it had never been used as a name in the TV / Film production industry or in the entertainment business. It had been hiding in plain sight, overlooked. “Audience”, the essential element of all entertainment.

More on the Audience Network at the DirecTV website.

A leaner, more digestable cut of the Igor Naming Guide now available!

As we were celebrating the fact that the Igor Naming Guide has been on the reading lists of Wharton & USC Annenberg for years AND was just downloaded for the 300 thousandth time; we got a complaint. At 115 pages, the ultimate free, how-to resource for naming companies and products, had gotten too long.

Always eager to produce less, we responded. The naming guide is now available in two different lengths: soul-crushing (89 pages) and moderately-irritating (16 pages).

Either version of the naming guide can be downloaded here.

Igor in today’s “Ward’s Auto”

Cerberus Instinct Letter-Perfect, by Eric Mayne February 18th, 2011

Like me, I’m sure you’ve wondered why Chrysler broke with convention by retaining “LX” as the codename for its new-generation fullsize car platform.

A Chrysler insider recently spells it out for me.

“This vehicle should have been reclassified as LY,” he says of the ‘11 Chrysler 300, the disputed platform’s flagship. “The original vision was that it would gravitate to LY.”

So what happened?

“There was an emotional attachment to LX with our past management, which was Cerberus,” the insider explains. “They wanted to stay with LX.”

Understandable. Especially because LX earned widespread industry acclaim.

It was the foundation of the ‘05 300, a car that rejuvenated American design. Why not keep the original designation? What could happen?

“Frankly, it’s been wreaking havoc with us internally because all of our production-control systems and everything,” the insider says. “It’s been very difficult.”

Separating the old program from the new required “shadow systems and all sorts of crazy things,” he adds.

His disdain for Cerberus is glaring. Like a typo on resume.

But the private-equity firm wasn’t completely wrong to write off the time-honored naming protocol. So suggests California-based branding guru Steve Manning.

“‘X’ is associated with anything that’s experimental or extra,” says Manning, co-founder of Igor, a leading corporate-naming consultancy.

Not to mention sexy, “as in triple-X,” he adds.

“It’s a very uncommon letter in the alphabet so it tends to stand out and has a certain look and sound. Everybody uses ‘X.’ It has a certain cool factor.”

And ‘L’ often is associated with luxury, Manning reminds.

Nothing wrong with that. But what does ‘LY’ communicate?

“’LY is no good,” he says. “‘Y’ is just deadly. Combined with ‘L,’ it’s just something that you put at the end of a word. Like slowly. There’s nothing going on with ‘LY.’”

Forget that platform codes have no market value. Cerberus did at least one thing right.

Give it an ‘E’ for effort.