Musings

AI For Branding Part 1: Name Generators

Chris "Boz" Harrold / Marketing Insights / 9th Apr 2020
Chris "Boz" Harrold 9th Apr 2020 Marketing Insights

AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Machine Learning are two rapidly expanding fields in which we are seeing a huge – and sometimes scary - amount of progress.

Many of us may will have inadvertently chatted to an AI chatbot while shopping online or experienced predictive text in our email or message applications. Perhaps not everyone will know however, that AI and machine learning are being utilised by the creative industry as well – increasingly in the design field.

A touchy and controversial subject for designers and creatives everywhere- not least because we once thought of computers as a tool simply for boring, programming tasks and repetitive actions – not as creators of artistic or imaginative concepts or designs.

In this three-part series I’m going to take a look at three of the latest tools that— on first glance at least— offer an easy and affordable way to set your new business up with a name, logo and website. I’ll try and offer a fair and impartial verdict, reviewing the experience and final products.

So, what we’re going to do is pretend we’re looking to launch Roots Creative all over again from the beginning. We’ll do our best to configure the tools to help us achieve a new name, logo and website for our very own agency. Here we go then!

Namelix have produced a clear, easy to use welcome screen and interface.

AI Name Generation

I’m going to look at Namelix.com because it describes itself as a “free, AI-powered naming tool” – exactly what we are looking at in this blog post.

First up, we’re going to look at a Name Generator to help us (you guessed it) generate a name for our business. There are a number of slightly-different tools available online, all offering a similar service. That is, to generate a selection of names based on certain in-putted criteria. For example, a keyword, your industry, the length or name or type of word you are after, etc.

First, we enter our Brand Keywords. I’m going to enter “digital marketing”, “creative”, “design” and “grow”. All key themes and services we offer.

This stage is one of the most important. It's worth experimenting with the inputted keywords.

For Name Length, I’m going to choose “medium names”. There is a chance that a shorter name will not only be less likely to be unique, it would also have to work harder to communicate everything we do and stand for in one short word. Long names are notoriously difficult to spell, type or remember so I’ve avoided this.

You may already know the 'kind' name you are after. Short names are easy and catchy but often have to work much harder to tell your audience what the organisation does.

After some consideration I’ve selected “Real Words” for our Name Style. This is because we want to keep a memorable metaphoric name (like “Roots”) that has several meanings. We would not achieve this if we chose a made-up word, or a misspelling.

You'll now need to select a name 'style'. The tool gives you some well known examples.

Clicking generate leads to a couple of seconds of loading animation until we are presented with our names. Namelix.com have chosen to style the names with different colours, fonts and backgrounds. This helps differentiate them and give the user an idea of how they could look as logotypes. A nice touch, but a tad simplistic I feel. The tool does not appear to have attempted to match a typeface to the name based on characteristics or brand indentity or market research. Each concept is akin to a stab in the dark, hoping one of the concepts is suitable for the user's new brand.

User Experience

It’s worth mentioning at this point that I’ve been quite impressed with the User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design. It’s clear, easy to use and good looking. It’s important that the process is as easy as possible with as few bugs as possible. Any confusion or errors could quickly result in the user closing the window and leaving the site and moving on to the next Google search result or recommendation.

Here are a few of our results. Many more are generated but for the purposes of this article, we're going to look at the top suggestions - those that most users are most likely to see.

Reviewing the AI-Generated Names

First impressions then; many of the generated names are fairly… dry. They are real words that ‘say what they do on the tin’. The problem with many of these is that they narrow down our wide range of creative services. Our audience may think we specialise in copywriting, for example, or ‘transcoding’, ‘playwriting’ or ‘telemarketing’.

A couple of names in there are metaphoric – great, and more along the lines we wanted for our brand. ‘Pruned’ for example, and ‘Sprouting’. Pruned – to me – gives a rather negative marketing message (halting the spreading of a company message, etc.) . Sprouting is OK actually, but perhaps does not go far enough toward positive change-making growth.

A couple of other names are quite broad with little-to-no ‘grow’ or ‘growth’ connotations. ‘Digitizer’ and ‘Advertiser’ for example.

One name concept does catch my eye; ‘Understory’. A nice unique mid-length name with metaphoric double-meaning. Roots Creative could theoretically base it’s brand on our ability to tell the real story beneath the surface of each of our client’s and their campaigns. ‘Groundcover’ is another similar concept with a strong potential brand message.

One AI fail worth pointing out here: It appears that the artificial intelligence has accidently generated a couple of names in the same colour as the background colour – making it appear like there is nothing in the box! Whoops, this is something our in-house design team would never do by mistake!!

See the blank squares in the image above? It's possible that there is a clash between text and background colour.

At this stage, the user is encouraged to click on their chosen name and review colour and typography options. We’ll cover this next ‘logo design’ step in our next blog post, coming very soon.

Verdict

It occurs to me that this AI name generation process is a rather… isolating experience. It neither encourages collaboration with colleagues and co-workers or invites feedback or challenges.

Such a tool may be suitable for a one-man-band or sole trader, or someone looking to quickly register an idea or concept before developing it further later. I do not feel however, that there are enough steps in the process; enough selectable parameters to really hone in on what it is your business does, why it does it, who it does it for and how(!).

Experience has taught us that there is no substitute for a well-planned bespoke-to-the-client Naming Workshop. We've spent some time honing our process and now proud of our friendly, creative workshop process with it's good looking and easy to read slides. We can make the whole confusing— but very important!— process simple, approachable and fun. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about this service that we offer.

In my next post we’ll look at an AI-powered Logo Generator. We’ll see how these machines from the future massacre (uh, I mean, ‘handle’) our precious agency’s name.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about launching a new business, re-branding your current business or the pros and cons of AI generators, do not hesitate to get in touch.


For anyone interested in just what artificial intelligence has been up to recently, check out the nice looking Imagination Matters website and their articles on the subject.

Chris

Chris "Boz" Harrold / Creative Director

Whether it’s for print or web, email or exhibition, Boz creatively directs as hard as he can to ensure we provide our clients with only the highest standard of work.