It happened during the first question of the first interview. He started with a great intro. I think I blushed a little. Then, he turned to me and asked: “So Brad, why did you decide to write The Naming Book?”
I went totally blank. I was ready for what. I had the 5 steps outlined. I was ready with my, “I think there are two hard things about naming” spiel. I even had some witty anecdotes about names that I thought were good. Or, companies that are good, but have bad names.
I was ready to speak to how. But why? I was not ready for why. I sat there and thought, “I have no idea why.” It seems like a terrible idea in retrospect. I have a full life with two very active kids. I have an old house with ongoing needs. And work. There is no bottom to the work. You walk away, but you don’t finish.
Once my initial wave of panic subsided, I realized that I did know why. I wrote the book because that is who we are. We notice what is broken and it dissatisfies us. We don’t complain about it (at least not for very long), we set to making things right, to improve them. It is one of our core values.
We named companies for years before I understood what was broken. Most of that time, we were successful because we had good intuition, put in the time, and had a fair amount of luck. As we got busier, we hired freelancers to generate name ideas. They all asked about the process. There was no process, and that was a problem.
To establish a process, I read all the books about naming that I could find. Most of the books either told the stories of brand names or listed types of names the author prefers. Both of those are interesting, but not directly helpful for the person who needs to create a name.
I started thinking about how we stumbled over names and realized that there were pieces that resembled a process. Simultaneously, I was reading the limited academic research on the subject. What I could understand confirmed my hunches about the process and made my thinking more robust.
I also had another realization. If we needed a naming process and struggled to find something, what did all the entrepreneurs with great ideas and no names do? I couldn’t imagine. As I wrote the book, I kept that person in mind. The person who didn’t know anything about naming or didn’t care about naming (or linguistics, and definitely not semiotics). This person wants a name that is going to work for them so they can get on with the hard work of bringing their business or product to market.
So, why did I write The Naming Book? Because I felt compelled to. Because it filled a gap. Because it could be useful to a group of people who need it. And, because it is kind of cool to see my name on the cover.