Is Naming Research Really Worth It?

Is Naming Research Really Worth It?

Selecting a new brand name isn’t easy. Research can help if you avoid a few common pitfalls.

When done well, research adds an objective lens to decision-making and uncovers insights about what a name will and won’t do for your future brand. When done poorly, research adds another decision-maker into a process that may already feel like an endless maze.

A few of the common pitfalls we’ve encountered from decades of experience working with clients that have turned to us after a failed naming initiative:

1. Ask the difficult questions. Asking colleagues, friends, or a subset of customers if they “like” a new name is not research. When we encounter a new brand in-market as consumers, we don’t judge the name as if we have the power to reject it. Instead, our minds focus on processing the new name for its intrinsic values & qualities, without judgement. Well-designed, strategic naming research mirrors how a customer or prospect would experience the name by capturing the immediate, implicit associations rather than judgement metrics such as favorability, popularity, or fit-to-concept.

2. Design for depth. One of the most challenging aspects of choosing a name is managing the process for decision-making. A well-designed name selection process includes research as a filter, rather than the conclusion of the naming process. When built into the process, research unearths insights about why a name has potential and the how it will help your future brand stand out in the marketplace. Effective research serves as a bridge to not only decide on a new name but to inform your future brand’s positioning, visual identity, and messaging.

3. Talk to the right people. One of the most common pitfalls is speaking with only a handful of consumers. Conducting research with an appropriate sample size of your target customers (N=100+), gives you data and more importantly, a set of facts to guide your naming decision. Quantifying the characteristics of a name helps avoid endless debate over anecdotal evidence that isn’t reflective of how the market will perceive a new brand name. Don’t let an opinion of one become the end-all, be-all assessment for a name. 

In our experience, well-designed research can add objectivity to your naming process & equip you with insights to help bridge the gap from name to brand. Naming research should:

  • Ask the difficult questions to understand the implicit associations and qualities of a new name.
  • Design for depth so that you understand not only the overall potential of a new name but the why and how behind its potential.
  • Focus on the right people by speaking with people that reflect your marketplace and avoid focusing on anecdotal evidence.

Lexicon has conducted over 1,000 naming research programs with clients including Intel, Microsoft, Meta, HP, the Coca Cola Company, Constellation Wines, P&G, and Toyota. If you are interested in discussing your next naming research program, contact our Director of Research, Dmitri Seredenko, and the Lexicon team at