It may seem like the logic for selecting a name is only relevant to…well, the name.  But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The story behind your brand or business name has the power to set the trajectory for a more successful communications strategy. Because it can act as the inspiration and guardrail needed to purposefully execute the kind of consistent messaging and cooperative visual elements that really stick in people’s memories.

Professional naming experts call the story behind a name its “rationale”. But what does this really mean?

The all-important “why” behind a great name.

The term rationale is defined as a basic reason or explanation for something. As such, a name’s rationale explains why it makes sense to attach that specific language to the offering being named in such a prominent way.  A strong rationale is one that simultaneously encompasses and extends beyond the obvious – clarifying all the subtle (and not so subtle) ideas, images and concepts the name can introduce and support in market.

Strong rationales touch on things like:

  • How the name relates to the offering’s most valuable and exciting experiences or outcomes,
  • What behaviors the name will encourage in users and consumers,
  • What emotions the name will engender in users and consumers,
  • The kind of relationship the name will help establish with marketplace participants,
  • The positive associations the name will help tether to the offering, and
  • The values, beliefs or philosophies the name symbolizes.

Of course, most rationales don’t touch on all of the points above. But a strong rationale focuses on the point(s) most relevant to your offering and its circumstances. And these point(s) will act as the narrative threads(s) that can then be pulled throughout other verbal and visual messaging vehicles.

Through that lens, it’s easy to see how a more detailed naming rationale gives you more to work with when crafting the rest of your communication and identity elements.

Telling the story of NutSpace.

Consider NutSpace – an education company that uses the power of stories and storytelling to build “21st century skills” in children.

From the perspective of its “rationale”, the name NutSpace could be explained using something as simple as “fun, lighthearted and appropriate for a child-focused offering”. True? Yes. Enough to act as the foundation of an entire messaging strategy? No way.

Fortunately, the folks at NutSpace appear to understand the power of a great rationale. According to their company website, the story behind their name is all about things like:

  • The power that can be found in the “everyday”,
  • A belief in the necessity of proper alignment between knowledge and the mind,
  • The promise of delivering the right method, space and time to create that alignment,
  • The ambition to help people discover their creative side, and
  • The “magic” that makes it all possible being the medium of storytelling.

Thanks to its comprehensive rationale, NutSpace has created a powerful foundation upon which they can build a coordinated system of messages. A system that encourages conversation around the effectiveness of stories (a more “everyday” communication tool) as a mechanism to help the brain correctly process information and build essential core skills. And this system sets the stage for visuals and learning tools designed to show up with a bit of playfulness and wonder.

Creating this combination of NutSpace’s name and rationale was a critical foundational step in ensuring the company’s brand experience was memorable, consistent and multi-dimensional. This carries long-lasting value – which not only justifies the up-front investment in time and effort it took to clarify the name and rationale – it makes it imperative!

When creating your name and solidifying its rationale, remember to think about it through the lens of your broader universe of communications. Be sure to find a story with the richness and ingenuity needed to act as the springboard for longer form content and impactful visual expression. Not only will this help you build the most productive suite of communications, it will also push you to select the best name possible.

– By Tanya Gustafson