Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Don't Call It That Second Edition: A Naming Workbook by Eli Altman

Don't Call It That Second Edition: A Naming WorkbookDon't Call It That Second Edition: A Naming Workbook by Eli Altman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked up this book because our company is going through a name change. I don't consider myself a creative type--something I'm beginning to rethink--so we hired a consultant to help us. He is a great guy to work with, and he has exponentially more experience at this than our whole team put together, but the process turned out to not be what I expected. I guess I expected him to come in, learn our business, then come back in a week or two with 5 names, of which 2 or 3 would wow us all. And that would be that. Update the logos on our website, submit a legal form or two, and buy t-shirts for a kickoff party.

That ain't how it works, folks. It took 8 meetings and lots of confusion to get to a name that the stakeholders in the room could agree to. I didn't say that we loved it, it took that long to just agree on a name we could all live with. After the process was over, I went to the internet to try to figure out what had happened, and I ran into this book. After what we paid the consultant, the $25 price tag felt like pocket change, so I bought it.

What I found was that for $25 I got many weeks worth of experience and ah-ha moments packaged in about 45 minutes of reading (there are a lot of pictures in this book). Here are a few of my key take aways from this book:

-It still came down to picking a name you like. Not very scientific. It did help to have guidance in our brainstorming, and to hear some experiential common sense about what to stay away from, but just picking a name that I like does not feel satisfying. Maybe I just lack confidence, but I want some kind of data to indicate that I'm making a good decision.

-All too often this book said to write down wild names, awful names, boring names, good names, etc. If I knew how to distinguish between a "good name" and an "awful name" I probably wouldn't have bought that book. There are examples of names I think are awful, but are they awful? What is the criteria for that? I didn't know then, and after reading the book, I still don't know.

-And then there is the name of his company A Hundred Monkeys. Sure it is memorable, but, well, it sounds awful to me. Why would I want to do business with a bunch of animals? I don't even like animals. Maybe I am on my own there, but then again, I think I'm dead in his target market at the moment, so wouldn't that mean he missed his market with his name? (Although the rest of his marking worked obviously, since I found and bought the book.) Maybe that just goes to show that the name, and even the branding/marketing (the book is an eyeblinding flourescent orange) doesn't matter as much as the content.

Was it worth $25? Yes, but then it wasn't MY $25 that paid for it:) Is it worth a read if you are naming something? Yes. Will it function as a handbook to help you produce a name by the end? YMMV, but for me, no. It did quickly help me get the lessons that I gained from working with a consultant for 3 months, but it is not the magic bullet I was hoping for.