News & Press
When it comes to naming & branding insights, the news media frequently plugs into Tungsten to discover what’s current. Here’s what hot off “the wire.” For press inquires about company naming and branding issues, contact Phillip Davis or call 828.877.2699.
The Wall Street Journal (online) — The Art of Naming A New Advisory Firm – April 2, 2013
by Caitlin Nish
(Excerpts) Branding experts recommend thinking creatively. You can even invent a name, but it shouldn’t be pure gibberish, says Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding in Brevard, N.C. A coined name should have a hint of an attribute and be easy to pronounce and spell, he adds. Mr. Davis also recommends using positive connotations and aspirational names. He helped create the name Freedom Peak Financial Inc., for example, for a firm that specializes in helping clients prepare for retirement. Rather than a generic title like Retirement Planning Associates, it points to the goal the firm intends to help clients reach–financial freedom.”
Mr. Davis also cautions against names that are too literal. ”What you do should be conveyed in your tagline, not your name,” he says. ”Your name should be used to create distinction and differentiation.”
While the name doesn’t have to be trademarked, Mr. Davis recommends doing so to keep others from treading too closely to your territory. ”You’re not offering a widget, you’re offering yourself,” he says. “You want to make sure this piece of your business is really solid.”
American Express OPEN Forum — How to Pick a Name for Your Business — May 11, 2012
by Elizabeth Sile
(Excerpt) Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding, a name development firm, recommends creating a “pivot point,” a quality or core attribute that everything in the company revolves around, such as speed, price, leadership, or innovation.
“From there, you can use any number of naming strategies to convey this central theme,” Davis says. “You can use metaphors, (Jaguar, Amazon, Monster), or positive connotation blends (OnStar, TruGreen, Bright House), or descriptive hybrids (CarMax, JetBlue, LendingTree,) or key attributes (Sir Speedy, Priceline, Service Masters).”
Pick a flexible name. A successful candidate for a business’ name is not finite, but malleable enough that it can still stand as the business grows and changes. Davis says Midas is a great example of a flexible business name, because using the name of a mythical Greek king with the golden touch positioned the company based on quality service, not on mufflers specifically. This then allowed the company to transition to other automotive repair services without expensive rebranding.
“What you do is typically not as important as how you do it,” Davis says. “And your main products and services are likely to change and evolve.”
ReadWriteWeb.com — Don’t Let the Wrong Name Sink Your Startup — April 12, 2012
by Tim Devaney and Tom Stein
Davis says it’s important to think about your audience. Names that combine two words, like Agilent, are OK for business-to-business companies but not so good for consumer-facing businesses. “When you’re going out to the consumer, the name has to be intuitive and sticky and fun. The consumer is very unforgiving, so your name has to hit right away. In B-to-B, your audience is much more limited, and you have greater control over the conversation.”
Davis’ firm has named more than 250 companies, from Pods (which makes those storage containers that sit in your driveway) to Double Cross Vodka (talk about truth in advertising). He says his current favorite company names include Pinterest and DropBox. A name he doesn’t like is Gotomeeting.com.
“If Gotomeeting ever tries to expand beyond meetings, they can’t. Also, it’s a long phrase and it still misses defining what they do. You can’t say, ‘Send me a Gotomeeting.’ The ability to ‘language’ a brand is huge, and it’s usually better if a name has verb potential. Can the name contort easily so someone can say, ‘Hey, can you Xerox this?’”
Names don’t exist in isolation. A name that looks great on a whiteboard may sound dumb in an elevator pitch, so try it out often in conversation. “People miss by creating a name that stops you in your tracks – but doesn’t go anywhere from there,” Davis says. “Like Blue Taco. That’s a cool name but where do you go from there? It’s not about creativity for creativity’s sake.”
Bloomberg BusinessWeek — The Twitter Effect, The Struggle to create the perfectly weird company name — October 21, 2010
By Eric Spitznagel
(excerpt) “Perfecting a name in the Digital Age, according to Tungsten’s Davis, is both art and science. His most famous invention is PODS, short for Portable On-Demand Storage. The moving and storage company’s original name was Portables, but Davis thought it “sounded too much like a toilet.” A name like PODS, he says, creates a feeling of “what, tell me more” instead of “huh, I don’t get it. The biggest mistake among amateur name creators, Davis believes, is overanalyzing the language. Amateurs can become too focused on the linguistics and the number of vowels and consonants. “They’re so grammatically focused that they miss the bigger picture,” he says. “They forget that there’s got to be a story connected to it. Other people get the story, but the word is so clunky that nobody cares about the story. They’ll be like, ‘In Latin, this word means the god of business.’ Well, yeah, but it’s got 16 syllables and five x’s and three z’s.”
Inc.com — 10 Things to Do Before You Start Your Start-up — August 17, 2010
by Inc. staff
(excerpt) “One thing that Phillip Davis, the founder of Tungsten Branding, a Brevard, NC-based naming firm, asks entrepreneurs is “do you want to fit in or stand out?” It seems straightforward. Who wouldn’t want to stand out? But Davis explains that some businesses are so concerned about gaining credibility in their field, often those in financial services or consulting, that they will sacrifice an edgy or attention-getting name. “However, in the majority of cases, clients want to stand out and that’s a better approach when looking at your long-term goals. Even the companies that say ‘I just want to get my foot in the door’ will usually begin wishing that they stood out more once they pass that first hurdle.”
Inc.com — How to Choose the Best Name for Your Business — June 23, 2010
by Josh Spiro
(excerpt) Davis adds, “When people are starting off at first, they’re so eager to get to market, to get traction, that they tend to go towards very literal, descriptive, functional names and those names end up pigeonholing them.” He even goes so far as to say that pigeonholing names are the reason why companies like Best Buy have outstripped competitors such as RadioShack and CompUSA.
Since companies tend to rebrand later in their life cycles, they often have more money than when they were first starting out. As a result, they can solicit more outside opinion in the process of choosing their names. But this isn’t always a good thing, says Davis.
“I see a lot of names get shot down that are good brand names because [companies] don’t provide context when they’re floating the name out to people,” says Davis. If you don’t tell people what your company does or what you want the name to evoke, all you can collect are random personal associations.”
MediaPost.com – Arizona, How To Manage A Major Tourism Crisis? — June 1, 2010
By Karlene Lukovitz
(excerpt) “This is a tough one — I don’t envy the tourism marketers for Arizona,” sums up Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding. “In this kind of scenario, the challenge is to maintain a strategic balance between over- and under-reacting. An overly aggressive approach can come off as shrill, and actually end up adding to the controversy by getting people who weren’t even aware of or very interested in the issue involved.”
“In general, it would seem better to stay very non-political and stay on talking points about the larger, enduring ‘brand’ of Arizona — what makes the state beautiful and attractive to visitors,” Davis continues, noting that even the worst political or PR crises eventually subside. “You might want to consider adjusting or toning down certain aspects of an existing marketing campaign for the present, but it doesn’t make sense to just drop current positioning.”
While Arizona’s current “Free to Be” tagline is admittedly not ideal at present, he points to the example of Toyota — which instead of dropping its ‘Moving Forward’ tagline in the face of its vehicle acceleration crisis, just downplayed the phrase and focused on taking concrete steps to motivate consumers to buy its cars.
Davis approves of the strategy of reaching out to existing brand loyalists, or “friendlies,” during such a crisis. Trying to convert or change the minds of people who are currently angry or antagonistic toward a brand is “hugely expensive,” can take years, and is in any case likely to come off as “artificial and contrived,” he points out. “It’s easier and more effective to swim downstream, by reaching out to those existing loyalists — including those who have enjoyed visiting the region in the past.”
AllBusiness.com, (a D&B Company) – Choosing the Right Name for your Franchise — March 10, 2010
By Sara Wilson
(excerpt) Phil Davis, president and owner of Tungsten Branding, a company-naming consultancy, agrees, saying, “Next to start-up capital, a great brand name is one of the most valuable assets a start-up franchise can possess.” So what are the elements that make up a winning franchise name? “Great brand names are typically memorable, engaging, and easy to both say and spell,” says Davis. “They also tend to be evocative versus descriptive.”
The right name will also give your franchise room to grow. “Think of your fledgling franchise as a new plant,” says Davis. “A one-gallon container might be big enough for its needs now, but what about in five years? Many franchisors find they become ‘root bound’ in just a few short years as products, services, and the economy changes.”
Inc.com — The Best (and Worst) Company Names of All Times — January 4, 2009
by Ryan McCarthy
(excerpt) “By using a memorable metaphor, Amazon really helped its brand grow.” says Phillip Davis, the founder of Tungsten Branding in Brevard, N.C. “The name positions the company as a source of abundance and diversity.” (JetBlue) is a descriptive hybrid that conveys the industry and provides a sense of open, blue skies,” Davis says. It also uses the newer ‘jet’ rather than the old-school ‘airline.’” (CompUSA) “The truncated geographic descriptor name limits the company to one category in one country,” Davis says. “If you’re looking for a computer in the U.S., this is your place. But for a DVD player? Who knows?”
Newsday — Small business: forging a strong online brand — September 17th, 2008
By, JAMIE HERZLICH, Newsday
(excerpt) You can also search for pre-owned names at such sites as Afternic.com and BuyDomains.com, says Phillip Davis of Tungsten Branding, a Brevard, N.C.-based name development and brand strategy firm. But keep in mind that these pre-owned names can run in the hundreds to thousands of dollars, adds Davis. It’s less costly finding a domain that hasn’t already been taken, he says. You can then claim it through a domain registration site like GoDaddy.com (for a list of registrars see internic.net/alpha.html). It generally costs anywhere between $7 and $15 annually to register a domain, depending upon the site. Try different word combinations. Obvious picks may be unavailable, but consider a company name with endings like Group Inc., Solutions, Agency or Systems, says Phillip Davis of Tungsten Branding.
Entrepreneur.com — 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Naming Your Business – April 7, 2005
by Phil Davis
(excerpt) “Naming a business is a lot like laying the cornerstone of a building. Once it’s in place, the entire foundation and structure is aligned to that original stone. If it’s off, even just a bit, the rest of the building is off, and the misalignment becomes amplified. So if you have that gnawing sense that choosing a name for your new business is vitally important, you’re right. With 18 years experience in the naming and branding business, I’ve witnessed the good, the bad and the really bad. To help you get off to a good start, read on to discover the top 8 mistakes I’ve found people make when it comes to choosing a name for their business:”
Entrepreneur.com — Crafting Your 15-Second Elevator Speech — May 27th, 2005
by Phil Davis
(excerpt) “Let’s say you’re at a conference, and someone steps in the elevator with you, notices your name tag, and asks, “What do you guys do?” Quick–what’s your answer? You’ve got just 15 seconds before the doors open so you’d better think fast.
For most business owners, getting to the crux of what they really do is the hardest, yet potentially most rewarding, one-minute conversation they’ll ever have. In that shortest of time spans, potential customers, vendors and employees will make a complete assessment of you and your company, deciding then and there if your company, products or services are worth pursuing. Why? Because it’s all the time they have before the doors open–so make it count.”