What should we call it?

You’ll get help naming a product, sales initiative, book or whatever else strikes your fancy at the Nov. 19 Craft Marketing session.

Doug Voegtle, brand strategist and writer at IdeaStalker.com, will present on “The Name Game: Strategies for Naming Your Product, Service or Business.” He’ll be at the Vintage Brewing on Whitney Way on Nov. 19, 2019. (Register here!)

We sat with Doug and asked him a few questions about the upcoming hands-on presentation.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and what Idea Stalker does?

A: My idea stalking portfolio is at IdeaStalker.com. I live near Chicago and serve clients in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Everything I do combines creativity and collaboration, whether I am teaching the process to others or tapping into the process to write for clients.

I teach marketing to entrepreneurs at Innovation DuPage and my local Illinois Small Business Development Center. Recently, I opened the Players Workshop — a school of improvisation in Chicago.

I cut my teeth on advertising copywriting in Chicago, including new product name development for Wrigley Gum and Brach’s Candy. That led to participating in a name development workshop at Quaker Oats, which is when the naming “bug” bit.

From 2002 to 2013, I worked in Madison as a CD/writer and teacher. I met a lot of wonderful folks while in Madison. I worked on naming liquids for Capital Brewery, consumer health products, B2B automotive products and services, a cancer collaborative, and more.

Q: Why is naming so important?

Thirty years ago, I was teaching a creative writing workshop in Chicago. One of my writing exercises was designed to impress upon writers the importance of naming fictional characters in stories. In this exercise, writers would develop a character description and history based on a real name they found listed in the local telephone book (remember those?). The name I found when I first did the exercise was “Ignotz Kratz.” I couldn’t believe that a real parent gave a human being that name, for life.

When naming your business (product or service), remember: the name you choose is the seed from which everything else will grow. Choose a crappy seed, and you end up with [insert your least favorite vegetable here].

Q: Why are you asking attendees to bring a naming challenge to our session?

A: I have little faith in the power of inactively absorbing information from endless PowerPoint slides. I believe in active learning and discovery. Think Montessori or Sesame Street with maybe a few slides, if any at all. My music composition coaches and improvisational acting teachers employed active exploration. They let me take risks and fail. I encourage others to do likewise.

“Active” attendees will get more out of this session. I hope people will come to Vintage Brewing with a project in mind, a notepad in hand, and a willingness to doodle. Need a working title for your first published book? Will your next big sales initiative need a motivating rallying cry?  

Q: Can you give us an idea of what they’ll learn?

 A: Attendees will actively learn how to leverage a thorough strategic/creative process and how to develop more than one name candidate. I help my clients develop two-four, strong name candidates because falling in love with one name is a recipe for disappointment. Don’t turn your trademark/copyright search into a downer; bring a few possible names with you.

Q: What challenges do marketers typically face when developing names for brands or other initiatives?


Process problems (strategic and creative process problems)

Fools rush into naming. We get tactical way too fast; generate names before we’re ready to; get way too focused on the end product and not the process that will get us to the end product. We’re driven more by fear than by creative curiosity.

Political problems

Some of us are stuck in organizations that slowly kill creativity with ideation meetings that are poorly designed and/or led. For instance, the boss loves “brainstorming” (I hate that word) sessions, but the boss also fails to encourage the open dialogue required to elicit risk-taking.

 Placating, peace-keeping problems

Some marketers are under the thumb of boards that need to name by consensus. They need a name that won’t rock the boat (a.k.a. a name that won’t help realize the organization’s mission).

 Q: What is the big takeaway people can expect if they attend the event?

 A: There isn’t one magic way to solve a marketing problem — in this case, there isn’t one magic way to develop names. If there were a magical process, then we would send our naming needs to the factory on the brand-naming assembly line.

Who should attend this presentation, and what will they take away from it?

Any marketer with a naming challenge who wants to develop two to four good ideas. Attendees will take home potential names and find out how to leverage a strategic/creative process.

Sign up for AMA Madison’s November Craft Marketing event!

Leslie Blaize, Certified Professional Services Marketer, owns Blaize Communications. She crafts B2b content with a focus on the Architecture/Engineering/Construction industry. Twitter: @leslieblaizepr

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