What’s In a Name? A lot.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

In case you slept through high school freshman literature, that famous quote is in reference to the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet. Juliet professes her love to Romeo by saying no matter his last name (even it is a rival family’s name), he is still her true love. It is one of the most quoted Shakespearian phrases of all time. It is a beautiful thought. And, it is also a myth.

When it comes to most things, the name really does matter. Like, what you name your child. There are entire studies devoted to the effects of children’s names on their potential opportunities in life. What a company names a new product can be critical to its success. There are entire careers devoted to this. But, what about what you name your upcoming infrastructure project? Yep, you bet your sweet bippy, it matters.

I see this quite a bit in the engineering world. We want to accurately name a project for what it is studying, designing, or constructing. So, we do. A lot. I’m embarrassed to say that even as a marketer, I have been guilty of this. We don’t think about what is in a name…from the general public’s perspective.

Think about if there has to be a series of studies on a single project. To the general public, it may seem that you are repeatedly studying the same thing! How frustrating from a taxpayer vantage point. You will certainly hear about it via social media, emails, calls into your local talk show, etc. But imagine if you took a step back and named the various studies based on what they may achieve, not the process. Imagine if you showed forward motion step by step for each study. Use action words, not passive phrases. Get a little creative!

Funny story about naming my first baby. Name after name that I brought forth to my husband ended up with a response of “I don’t like that name because it reminds me of ‘so and so’.” Or worse, he would rhyme unappealing phrases with the name to imagine what kids on the playground might say to her. A name that I was particularly fond of was the name Elle. He rolled his eyes at me and said, “say the baby’s full name out loud.” I answered back, “Elle Boe”.  After saying two or three times, I finally got it.

Another good lesson is to test the project name on a few people or stakeholders. If it is a particularly creative name, make sure everyone is behind it and can say it out loud without rolling their eyes. Also, consider if it meshes with the brand of your community, company, or industry. Branding is whole other discussion I will tackle later.

I’m interested if anyone else has any good “naming stories” whether it is for a project, product, or even your baby. Comment below or shoot me an email at Andrea.Boe@ae2s.com.

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