Making names, making choices

I guest authored this week's Etymology, Interbrand's monthly naming publication, and used it as a chance to nerd out about choice. Naming has a huge influence on the way audiences understand the amount of choice you offer, and helps them compare choices to find the right one. 

To apply theories of choice to portfolio naming, I borrow heavily from the work of Barry Schwartz and Sheena Iyengar. Iyengar's published research always seems to have what I'm looking for:

  • When I'm dealing with a portfolio that offers excessive choice, I reference her study on when too much choice is demotivating (the famous jam study, in its original form).
  • If a business is struggling with low customer satisfaction when they're set up to offer customers exactly what they want , I wonder if spending too much time getting what's "just right" is contributing to a sense of dissatisfaction—Iyengar showed that job seekers who spent too much time looking for "best" weren't as happy with their decision as those who went with a job offer early in the process.  
  • The area of overlap between name and brand architecture comes down to how we articulate the types of choice a brand offers. A study called The Mere Categorization Effect details how categories shape audience perceptions of choice—and how satisfied they are with what their choice. We take this further with naming systems, creating language to sit above categories that tells a story about what the brand stands for, in addition to what it offers.