So Seth's talking today about branding and avoiding bad brand names. I don't disagree with him (Ok, I rarely do), but it's one thing to know what makes a bad brand name and avoid it and another to come up with something good.
How do I know this? I've been racking my brain lately trying to come up with names for my husband and his partners for a company name. We run into several problems, the primary one being that so many domain names have been taken by squatters. (Who are doing quite nicely, thank you. Offer.com sold for $180,000 this week. Yikes!) Add to that two partners whose first language isn't English, one who's really young and none of them very marketing savvy. My husband will listen to me, the others don't. So this has been a hair-pulling exercise to say the least because they keep coming back to names that are generic, say nothing and are totally safe (boring). I keep trying to encourage them to think in terms of what the brand will be and less in terms of what the product actually does, but once the hair has been pulled out, there's little protection for when you beat the head against the wall. (I'd share some of the stinkers, but I don't want to jeopardize them getting a domain name. Wait, maybe I should so someone out there can steal them and I can make them get something better!!)
So how to avoid this? Because I run into the same problem all the time in my every day job. (Thus my involvement in this side project for my husband.) What I've learned over the years? 1) No one will go along with you just because you're the professional. (Oh how I wish that worked!) 2) Vague words will never sell your idea. Throw some facts and well-thought out reasons at them. 3) Give them options and make them feel as though they are making the choice. 4) Have a plan based not on how great your idea is, but on the players you're dealing with. Understand the personalities and play to them.
Do I take my own advice? Nope. I seem to run into this problem quite often, which is why I come up with the great ideas and usually let my boss run the traps. Good teamwork!