My Fremantle Online Series – What’s in a Name?
The 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.
Here are the key elements of naming an enterprise (paraphrased to apply to a scripted drama but originally from a corporate branding article).
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.