This is not mainly a book about domain names. But it is an engaging, informed and educational guide to naming and branding. So what can a domain name investor take away after reading Brand New Name? As it turns out, a lot. Below are some of the aspects that particularly resonated with me. Get Inspired About Naming The author is an eloquent writer, and a great storyteller. It is easy as a domain investor to sometimes get so involved with the process of evaluating, securing, listing, managing and selling domain names, that we can lose sight of the importance to the end user of securing that right name. The author writes about naming in a way that is bound to inspire. A few examples from the book: You will leave the book motivated and inspired on the importance of helping others get the right name. Learn How Many Brands Got Their Name The book is rich with stories of actual brands, and how the name came to be. Brand New Name introduces you to the story behind the naming of brands such as Bluetooth, Cisco, Flickr, Häagen-Dazs, and many others. You will even learn how Nacho’s were named, and where the number 40 in WD-40 originated. While some of these brand name stories will be familiar to domain investors, I suspect most readers will learn a few for the first time. For example, can you guess what company based it’s name on the following criteria? The name must be short and vigorous. It is essential that there be zero chance of being misspelled. There must be no existing meaning for the term. It must begin and end with the letter K, as the founder considered that letter strong and decisive. Many Things Are Named Often when we talk of domain names for businesses, we overlook that many things get named. Companies, products, teams, campaigns, services, games, courses, buildings, causes, books, films, sites, songs, medications, boats, etc. all need names. The book reminds us of the diversity of things that are named. That can mean selling opportunities that domain investors may have overlooked. Who Can Best Name A Business? Domain investors know a lot about names, both the technical side as well as aesthetics, linguistics, consumer behaviour, market trends, and more. But we are not, in most cases, experts on the individual business or product being named. The book is a helpful reminder of that. Brand New Name is primarily intended to be used by those given the responsibility, and opportunity, to name or rename a product, service or the entire company. As the author says, rather than look outside, the company should involve those who know the business best. While there is a role for outside expertise, the process must centrally engage those from within the business. The book provides a multi-step process to define the naming task and parameters, brainstorm ideas, gather testing data, and make the final decision. The approach draws heavily on ideas from design thinking and sprint methodology. You can learn more about effectively using sprints in this article, while design thinking is explained well in this article from the Interaction Design Foundation. Domainers who want to work more closely with end users will find the approaches outlined in Brand New Name of great value. I touched on the idea of transforming from holding name portfolios to serving as naming consultants in an earlier article Naming As A Service. Domain investors who want to pivot to that role, will find this book essential reading as they chart out how to work effectively with a business in coming up with that perfect name. Using A Namescape Starting on page 149, the author introduces the idea of a Namescape, which was new to me. The two axes of the Namescape table are the structure of the name, and its type. By structure, the author means names made of real words, blended words, made-up words, acronyms or misspelled words. The type of name, in his categorization includes descriptive names, suggestive names that hint at the product or service, and totally abstract names. He suggests that it is worthwhile to do a Namescape for existing competitor names in your sector. For example, many names for products intended for children use creative spelling, for example Kool-Aid and Cheerios. A domain investor might want to expand the idea of the Namescape to consider domain extensions, or length, or other aspects of the name, as well as additional types of names. If most existing businesses in a sector use short abstract names, it does not necessarily mean that your long blend name does not have value, but it is one thing to keep in mind. Testing Is Critical I sometimes wonder if we don’t do enough testing within the domain community. A key aspect of the naming process introduced in Brand New Name involves testing of possible names, ideally with both clients and employees. One of the tests involves returning to ask people five days later which was their favourite name. This is an interesting twist on the standard short-term evaluation of memorability of a name. What About Quirky Names? NamePros discussions have not infrequently dealt with whether a name is too cute. I found the section of the book Embrace Quirk thought provoking. The author points out that many great brands are quirky in some say – maybe a little naughty, or embracing a negative word. He uses Slack as an example, a name that at first might be perceived as negative, but in fact has worked as a perfect brand. As he writes: As I follow the top of the NameBio Daily Market Report, I often see names that to me seem imperfect, and wonder why they sold for 4 figures or more. But maybe what I see as imperfection, is really a quirk with positive benefits. Creativity The book deals in depth with questions around creativity, since coming up with possible names is essentially a creative process. The book has evidence-based guidance on how to foster creative environments. The author cites research that while intelligence, as measured by IQ, is rising, it turns out that scientific measures of creativity suggest that it has been in significant decline since about 1990. There are probably numerous reasons for the decline, but whatever the reason, there are implications for creative name invention. A Few Key Tools The book ends with a short appendix on Naming Resources. It includes online dictionaries, thesauruses, translation tools, sites to help avoid bad word pitfalls, trademark resources, a central guide to social media availability, and a few domain name generators and search tools. While most experienced domainers will know these, or equivalent, tools, I did learn of several I did not know about previously, and that I plan to use in the future. Who Is The Author? Jeremy Miller learned about brands because he needed to in order to rebrand his Canadian family business. Jeremy’s path into branding wasn’t traditional. He fell into it out of necessity. After watching his family’s business nearly hit rock bottom, he was forced to take a hard look at the way the company was run and at their industry as a whole. Jeremy realized it wasn’t his sales people or marketing processes that were failing, it was the brand: their customers couldn’t distinguish them from anyone else. This insight caused him to rethink, reposition, and rebrand the business. The strategy worked, and within a year the company turned the corner and rocketed into growth mode. And in 2013 Jeremy sold his family’s business to focus exclusively on what he does today: build brands. Over the decade Jeremy Miller has interviewed hundreds of business leaders, trying to identify the factors that help businesses thrive, and in particular the role that brands play. He has consulted with numerous companies as they worked to rebrand for new success. You can read more about the author at his website StickyBranding.com. Book Details Brand New Name is reasonably priced and is available in Kindle and paperback formats. I read the paperback version, and it is beautifully illustrated and presented. There is a lot in the book, but the reading experience was so engaging, that it felt like a fast and enjoyable read. In addition to Brand New Name, the author previously published Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers and Grow an Incredible Brand. I have read that book as well. Sticky Branding has a structure that emphasizes the principles of good branding, while Brand New Name builds a practical process for brainstorming and evaluating potential names, inherently using those principles. You can sign up to receive an electronic preview of Brand New Name free at the author’s website. Amazon also have Look Inside activated for the book as an alternative way to sample before you buy. While I am not a particular fan of the name chosen for this book, ironically, I do think the content of the book is excellent, If you are looking to expand your skills in naming and branding, and surely we should all be, I encourage you to give this book a read. By the way, in case you are confused, as I was, the relatively new Brandbucket naming contest service operating at BrandNewName.com is totally unrelated to the author or this book. Confusing, right? That service launched shortly after this book was published. Most domainers would have secured the matching domain prior to finalizing the title of the book, but I guess the author preferred to build on the site that had considerable momentum from his first book, StickyBranding.com, a name I prefer to Brand New Name. Jeremy Miller is active on Twitter, and his account is well worth following. Let me leave the last word to the author.