My Fremantle Online Series – What’s in a Name?

rose_02_bg_040106The Hardest Task

Probably one of the hardest tasks in getting my new FremantleMedia online series up and running is finding the right name.  It’s been the source of endless meetings, intense discussions and general agonizing and floundering all around.  Why is this naming business so hard?  Probably because naming an online series is so important to its success.

Key Elements

Here are the key elements of naming an enterprise (paraphrased to apply to a scripted drama but originally from a corporate branding article).

Branding is perhaps the most important facet of any business–beyond product, distribution, pricing, or location. A company’s brand is its definition in the world, the name that identifies it to itself and the marketplace.
Developing a brand involves more than just picking a catchy name and placing an ad in the newspaper–a brand is more than a unique string of letters denoting a particular product; a successful brand is a mnemonic trigger that makes a consumer feel a certain way when the brand is thought of.
A brand is who your company is, and what it is selling–it is as important as naming a baby, and should require the same amount of effort to develop it, but if done well, can mature into a successful and profitable adult.

Naming a show creates its brand and thus its identity with an audience.  Branding is perhaps one of the most important facets of any online show–on a par with scripts, casting and production. It is the definition of the world of the series and website and captures a sense of the community it seeks to create.  It is the name that identifies the show as itself and helps define its viewers.

Developing an online show’s brand involves more than just picking a catchy name–a brand is more than a unique string of letters titling a particular drama; a really successful brand is a mnemonic trigger that makes a viewer remember the viewing/participation experience and makes them feel a certain way when thinking about the show and its characters.

A brand defines what your show is, and what kind of entertainment it is offering–it is as important as naming a baby, and should require the same amount of effort to develop.  If  done well, it can help a fledgling series mature into a long-term success.

What Makes a Name a Success?

Business Week did a comprehensive survey of the best brand names in corporate America.  (Again I am paraphrasing to apply to a scripted online drama but the article was originally about  company or product branding).

1.  The best online show names are clear and simple. They are easy-to-associate names that describe the kind of story you are telling and what community experience you are creating.

2.  Many of the winning brands in the Business Week survey are reworkings of ordinary words.  For example: Google was named because Googol (a math term) was already taken as a URL.

3.  The best names are short, using as few letters as possible.

A brand name is obviously a matter of some importance for the graphic designers and those responsible for the product’s logo and visual identity. It’s no surprise that designers tend to prefer names that are short and sweet—for one simple reason: “The shorter the name is, the bigger you can make it,” says Michael Bierut, partner in the New York office of design firm Pentagram.  But even more importantly, the URL for the show should be as short and easy to remember as possible.

My Series’ Identity

My series is geared to women over forty.  These are women who have lived enough to have experienced serious personal, career or financial set-backs, role reversals, career changes, unexpected defining and re-defining moments and significant losses.  They are women who have the resiliency to turn their lives around and triumph over adverse circumstances or capitalize on new positive new challenges and opportunities.

The three principle characters in the series meet, become friends and share their own stories of starting over.  With the encouragement of her friends, the main character decides to relaunch the failing newspaper she inherits and takes it online.  The journal is a forum for ALL women to share their stories of starting over.  Ala The Huffington Post it will aggregate news stories and feature articles about women reinventing themselves, relaunching their lives and redefining their futures.  Ordinary women will share their own stories of beginning again.  Our main character hopes the venture will become the premiere showcase of women’s stories both fiction and non-fiction.

We decided to name the series after the online journal she launches.  The drama centers around the main character’s struggle to recover from the death of her husband, dig out from the financial and personal chaos he left behind and get her the journal up and running,  Sharing stories of starting over is at the heart of the series (and the community it will create).  We think it should be the focus of the naming process.

Thanks to the wonders of social networking I’ve launched a call for help in the naming process.  I’ve gotten many wonderful suggestions.  We’re compiling a short list now.  Follow me on FaceBook and Twitter for step-by-step updates on creating this series.  Stay tuned and join the conversation.  I will post updates in this blog as well.  Feel free to forward this to anyone who might have an interest in developing online drama.

7 Comments

  1. Reply Catherine holliss 2nd November 2009

    The Blue Book

    I love this because it is the nickname for the source for second hand cars, it is also the nickname for a source for lawyers looking for a system of citation — and for marketing research services…

    Anyhow, it has associations with a second life and second chances and some humor — and the underlying assumption that you may be “blue” but you could get a new lease on life as well…

    • Reply Laurie Hutzler 3rd November 2009

      Thanks Catherine! Will put it in the mix.

  2. Reply Scott Jolgen 3rd November 2009

    Laurie,

    Congratulations on this new venture. It seems to me the name and brand are what the story is about: REINVENTING OURSELVES.

    That’s my shot at it. Good luck.

    Regards,

    Scott Jolgen

  3. Reply Ben Marshall 9th November 2009

    Here’s two ideas off the cuff.

    “The Grandmother Theory”

    Vibrant forty-plus something women may not like to see themselves as “grandmothers” or their identity linked to their biological function, but the theory starts with the question: why do women live so long after they successfully raise children? I.E. if they’re biologically redundant, why do they live on into old age? The reason seems to be, from all the scientific sources I’m privy to, that older women are crucial in two ways – ensuring their children are able to continue successfully raising their own families by supporting them physically and culturally, and by directly contributing to the care of the grandchildren, thus ensuring their genetic line persists. No, we don’t think in those terms in our day to day lives, but we are animals and the bottom line is that’s how it works, no matter what it is we do for a living. Recent studies show that children who have grandmothers living nearby survive and prosper better than those who don’t. Studies also show that children survive and prosper better the more genes they share with their grandmothers.

    So while a group of older women are often perceived as not terribly useful as part of wider society, (how many television shows about older women can you think of other than The Golden Girls?) they are in fact crucial. They’re just, for the most part, “invisible”.

    As we age, and become less attractive to the opposite camp, we become less “visible” in public fora. Arguably, women more so than men, who are simply louder. Women become “invisible” – on the street, in media, and in the workplace.

    A group of women banding together and creating something that breaks those stereotypes (unless, of course, the series features only gorgeous, slim, briskly confident forty-five year olds), I would suggest, is a process of resurfacing, and becoming, once again, visible. So that’s my second series title idea:

    “Becoming Visible.”

    Cheers.

    Ben Marshall

  4. Reply Jim Charne 10th November 2009

    How about ——> “Nothing Ventured”

  5. Reply Jim Charne 10th November 2009

    If At First

  6. Reply Kali 12th November 2009

    I’ll be following this blog. I’m in pre production for my web series, and I’m banging my head against the wall trying to come up with the perfect name. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    Kali

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