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Etymology: Freedom of—and from—choice

Posted by: Caitlin Barrett on March 20, 2013

All Systems Go

Freedom of—and from—choice

We live in a choice-mad world. Choice is part of personal expression. The way we customize, upgrade, and add-on tells people something about who we are. Our choices are badges—Mac or PC, dog or cat, Coke or Pepsi—and we can't help but feel more invested in something when we've picked it ourselves.

What about when you can't see the product for the names—when too much choice is actually hurting you in the market? When it comes to brands, the amount of choice they present has a powerful impact on the way people understand what they offer.

Limitless choice sounds like a beautiful concept until you're handed a 20-page spiral bound menu at a diner and asked to hurry up. Contrast that with a single-page tasting menu at a high-end restaurant. There might be no choice at that point. You're going to eat what the chef serves, but in all likelihood you made a choice to go to that restaurant for that very reason. The curation and the expertise behind the menu make the highly limited option the best one.

Of course there's no magic formula for deciding how much choice is right for customers in your category, but a naming system helps them sort through your offerings in a meaningful way. When like things are named in a like way, and grouped based on principles that are intuitive to the customer experience and authentic to the brand, it's easier for your audiences to zero in on exactly what they want. What a beautiful choice.

Developing a naming system for your brand is a challenge when you're crafting it from scratch. It's even more daunting when you're designing something for a long-standing portfolio (especially one that's picked up a few acquisitions along the way). We've summarized the top nine things to think about when coming up with your naming system at the right in All Systems Go.

This week's guest author, Caitlin Barrett, is Associate Director of Verbal Identity for Interbrand and the creative lead for Naming.

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