A Boy Named Sue

So you’ve got the perfect business idea, new product, restaurant or development; now all it needs is the perfect name. Just like naming a child (or in our case a cat or dog)– it’s a big deal! A name is a first impression and the heart of your branding; hopefully it is something you will live with for a long time.

When choosing a name there is a lot to consider and that is where we come in. We thought we’d write a post to share a bit about our naming process, here goes!

First we connect with the key stakeholders because who knows the new idea better than those who created it! Asking some big picture questions down to the specifics:

  1. What is your greatest hope for your new line of pickles?
  2. What do you see as the biggest challenge for your new townhome project?
  3. Who are your major competitors?
  4. Are there any influences that got this new app where it is today?
  5. Any names that come to mind that you are already partial to?

Once we have heard from all of those involved, we take back these questions and undertake extensive research into the industry, competitors, names the team likes already. We need it to be unique, relatable, available on social media and domain names.

Next up, our favorite step – group brainstorming! Our entire Hangar 18 Crew gathers for a pow wow. After reviewing all of the findings we throw names at the wall and frankly write them down to keep up with the creative pace of the group, at this point there are no bad ideas. Once our whiteboard is inevitably full we vote on each to narrow down the top names worth exploring.

Now we generally have 10-15 names which need more… you got it – research! Ensuring these names aren’t used in the industry and that an online presence is available is important so that our client doesn’t fall in love with a name that won’t work for them. Our brilliant Creative Director takes the top 5-10 names that are still in the running to provide a rationale: how we came up with it, how it relates to the business, product or project. We are ready to show the client!

We like to present our names to the group for their first impressions and have them silently write down their top 5 names in order without chatting amongst themselves. We then go around the circle for a round table discussion for a chance to defend the ones they love, and share their opinions on options they don’t like and why. This part is fun, we always see so much emotion in the room with very intelligent thinking. The best outcome of this stage is when new names come from within the group based on the discussion off of the names we presented. We add the new names to the list along with the top 3 and do another round of writing down only their top two names. It is amazing how many times there is a clear winner here! If not, another round of discussion and the group can choose to think about it for a few days to go back and discuss with others and then a re-vote for the majority.

The name is born and we can start designing the logos, wordmarks, colour palettes, taglines and full brand standards guideline to set you up for success. 

A few names we are proud of:

  • Most recently we worked with the newly named ZEBx Zero Emissions Building Exchange. This involved four key partners: VRCA, Passive House Canada, City of Vancouver, and the Open Green Building Society as well as two full time staff hired the week we started on the project.  We had 5 weeks to name, brand and design the program as well as design and build the website. We just kicked off the launch party with great success!
  • The Fairmont Waterfront came to Hangar 18 in 2014 with a new restaurant concept that would draw locals as well as visitors to Vancouver. It’s based on the creation of hand-crafted, simple, organic food, and their own herbs and honey grown and made on their rooftop garden. Hangar 18 was tasked with naming the restaurant and creating a brand that represents these attributes. The name we created is “ARC” which is symbolic of the unique location of the restaurant on the crescent of Canada Place, with beautiful views of the North Shore mountains.
  • Hangar 18 was tasked with creating a brand for a new development at Dockside Green in Victoria B.C. for Catalyst Community Developments. A distinctive feature of the property is the presence of an Arbutus tree, and in the naming of the development, and colour palette choice, we took this into consideration, naming it : “Madrona”, which is the Latin name for Arbutus tree.

Send us an email or give us a call if you need help naming your next triumph!


(Photo credits to: Heinrich Klaffs & Amador Loureiro)