Like most kids who grew up in the 90’s, I was raised by The Simpsons. I watched it every Sunday. I watched every re-run. And I even have the first five seasons on DVD.
That funny yellow family taught me so many lessons, and this hit home for me over the weekend. I’m writing a new keynote for the launch of my new book, Brand New Name. (If you’re in the Toronto-area on October 15th, I hope you can attend the launch event. Tickets are available now.)
I was poking around YouTube looking for the perfect clip to add to my talk. I found what I was looking for in three minutes, but I then managed to kill another hour giggling away.
It dawned on me: The Simpsons can teach us a lot about brand naming.
1. Your First Ideas Usually Suck
In “Das Bus”, Homer starts his own internet business, Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net. It’s never revealed what the company actually does, but it does catch the attention of Bill Gates.
Watch how Homer generates names for his fledgling business. They are all obvious and cliché. This happens all too often. You rarely come up with a great idea in the first round of brainstorming. It takes time.
This is why I spread out the naming sprint in Brand New Name over 5 days. By asking participants to generate “5 good names per day for 5 days” helps them to get beyond the obvious and cliché.
2. Say It Out Loud
I am pretty sure I have the humor of a twelve year old, but I can’t help myself. I find it hilarious. 😂
With the rise of voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, say your names out loud. Are they easy to spell and easy to say? Misspelled words like Flickr and Tumblr worked in the dotcom era, but voice assistants aren’t going to know you came up with a nifty way to spell it so you can acquire a domain name.
Know your audience and how they will interact with your names.
3. Check Urban Dictionary!
The last thing you want is a name that means something… unfortunate. You also want to check that it doesn’t sound bad in another language.
For example, “Pee Cola” is a popular soft drink in Ghana. It means, “very good Cola.” To my twelve year old brain, it makes me giggle.
4. Avoid Decision by Committee
Getting feedback is important, but don’t rely solely on customer input or allow decision by committee. To quote my grandpa, “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and most of them stink.”
In Brand New Name I provide a set of tools and exercises to evaluate names so you can take the guesswork out of it.
What’s Your Favorite Simpsons Clip?
Ok. Confession. This article was purely an indulgence so I could research and share Simpsons videos. So I am going to throw it back to you. What’s your favorite Simpsons scene of all time? Tweet me a link to @StickyBranding.