A huge mistake when picking a name

Recently I got a mass email from Moody asking for help in naming a new campus program. They have this cool new idea they’re implementing, they just needed help picking a name.

Now, I don’t mean to throw Moody under the bus with this post, but they just provided me with an excellent case study I couldn’t pass up. Here’s a principle for leaders of anything:

You never ask a large group of people for help in branding a cool idea. Never.

This is especially pertinent for church leaders. Our thinking typically goes like this: “Well, this ministry isn’t even for me! They’re the ones who are gonna have to live with the name… not me. So we might as well let them decide what it’s called.”

That is precisely why you can’t let them be the ones who name it.

Here’s why:

  1. When given a voice, people become attached to their idea. Consequently, when their idea is not picked, they no longer buy-in with the same commitment they would have if they had never been given a voice.
  2. You lose your edge of confidence. The goal of branding is to sell. In order to sell something, people must think you’re confident about what you’re selling. When you ask a large group what to brand something, you automatically lose the ability to stand up with your idea as if you are absolutely confident it’s the right idea. That won’t sell.
  3. You forfeit the opportunity to ride the wave of momentum. When you hand the branding over to the market, you miss a chance to stand up with the new and final idea and get people excited about how great it is. Why? Because they’ve already heard about it before it had a name! Now you’ve defeated the purpose of naming it well in the first place!

When I was in high school some friends and I were starting a band. Whenever you start a band, you have to come up with a name for the band. I made the mistake of asking a big group of people on a road trip for their opinions. To this day, people tell me we should have named the band something else.

If you ask a large group to name something, the first thing they’ll think about when they hear its name won’t be the cool idea the name represents, but will be the other names left on the table.

Don’t make that mistake.


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