9 mins read

Can OpenAI help you find the perfect brand name?

Published on
January 6, 2022
Scott Adam Lancaster
Brand Development Expert
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I remember a great quote from an interview with the late Steve Jobs.

He's talking about an article in Scientific American about the efficiency of living things and their movement (so how an animal can get from point A to point B using the lowest amount of energy).

At the top of the list was the Condor, with humans coming a third of the way down the list

*Not great, I know.

But they then included a human riding a bicycle into the list.

Our standing in the table was very, very different.

The upsurge of OpenAI

Unless you've been living under a rock (or you don't give a crap) you'll have likely heard about OpenAI and how it's going to 'take over the world'.

*Insert terminator vibes with killing machines powered by sunlight and the thirst for human sadness.

OpenAI runs on GPT-3.5 language technology – a large artificial intelligence model that has been trained on a massive amount of text data from a variety of sources.

In short, OpenAI is really, really smart. And can gather information, develop ideas and make suggestions faster than any technology of it's kind could before.

It can learn faster, better and more effectively than humans can.

This all sounds scary...

At least at first.

Can OpenAI take jobs from humans?

In short, the answer is yes. But there's a catch.

OpenAI will become better at solving increasingly complex problems and be able to provide more sophisticated results.

But how does OpenAI deal with creative problems? Or problems that take the 'human factor' into account?

Yes, OpenAI can write you a cold email to sell your service.

Yes, OpenAI can create an artificial image of a fire breathing dog standing on the top of Mount Rushmore.

Yes, OpanAI can give you fun ideas for your 10 year olds birthday party.

But how effective is OpenAI when tasked with creating a brand name for a new company? A was which seems simple at first, but a task which needs to play a distinctive role in a much bigger picture (your overall brand).

Can OpenAI help find a new brand name?

We put OpenAI to the test and asked it to help us develop a brand name for a new premium coffee brand.

It was important we gave OpenAI a brief which had similar guidelines to the ones we would receive from a client when helping them during the name development process.

So the brief we set for OpenAI was as follows:

- The brand is a premium coffee company.

- It must be able to be easy to say for anyone, no matter what language they speak.

- It must be able to be protected in Europe and the USA.

*To be honest, this type of brief is more on the loose side, but we wanted to give OpenAI the best chance possible to come up with plenty of creative ideas which we could then assess.

What we found wasn't surprising.

OpenAI could do what existing 'free brand name generators' can do, but a little better. Which is to take the words 'premium, coffee & world', then search for relevant words that are related to the core words. OpenAI then pieces together the words they find to create a list of brand names.

What OpenAI did well when suggesting brand names:

- The names are relevant.

- They are a little creative (I suppose).

- They meet the brief (kinda).

What OpenAI missed when it comes to effective brand naming:

- The names all include highly common words, which are likely already used by other companies.

-. They aren't unique or distinctive enough, meaning they would struggle to be memorable and also it would be more difficult for them to rank highly on search engines.

- There is no element of mystery behind the names. They are too obvious and descriptive.

- The names above are unlikely to have .com domains available.

Testing OpenAI a second time

So in fairness, OpenAI didn't do too badly when it came to their first try.

So we wanted to break things down to make it easier for OpenAI to take the process one step at a time.

This would allow us to test it on it's ability to come up with a brand name which simply meets a clients needs.

The process we wanted to guide OpenAI through was based loosely on the same process we would take as a creative agency:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Create ideas
  3. Check which we can use (trademarking & domains)

Our process is a more in-depth. But by making things simpler, we can give OpenAI the opportunity to clearly show where it can be supportive, where it could improve and hopefully be more helpful in future.

Defining the problem & creating ideas

As expected, and just like in our first excperiment, OpenAI was able to take a problem (finding a coffee related name) and present some ideas for us within a few seconds.

The system even asked us to tell it more about the coffee company, prompting us to give a little more refined brief (which was pretty cool).

The results weren't bad...

But they didn't blow us away either.

They were predictable and (from my experience) the type of names you can get from any 'free name creation platform', but just a little better.

Checking trademarking & domains

Once we had a few names, we wanted to check to see if they were available as domains and also able to be trademarked.

As expected, this is currently outside the capabilities of OpenAI right now.

But this isn't to say that they can't learn and develop this type of ability in future.

Unfortunately, this isn't something it can help with right now.

Can OpenAI complete creative & strategic tasks?

I can 100% see how OpenAI can help creatives do their work better and faster, we are still a long way from seeing OpenAI being able to do highly complex consulting and solve multi-dimentonal problems.

It can currently give you a few semi-creative options to choose from. It can even check if domains are available.

But what it can't do (at least today) is take a complex environment (the world of business) and understand how to uniquely position a solution to maximise the chances of success.

Humans create useful tools. OpenAI is one of those tools.

As Steve Jobs shared in the interview I mentioned earlier, humans have the incredible ability to create tools that can make our lives easier and more efficient.

In my humble opinion, OpenAI is going to open up human's ability to work more efficiently, give basic solutions and ideas to existing problems.

OpenAI cannot join the jigsaw together

Building a brand (properly) is not as simple as just choosing a name, designing a logo, slogan, colour palette, brand voice, story and building a decent looking website.

Building a brand is like putting together a jigsaw, where all the pieces make complete sense and fit together perfectly.

You can create all those pieces individually. but if you piece them together and they don't fit or it just doesn't look right, this will impact the likelyhood your potential customer will trust your brand and buy from you.

Your brand's pieces must effortlessly join together and create a perception in the mind of the customer. The target audience you are wishing to serve.

If your customers can't trust your brand, they won't buy

That's what gives brand's a distinct advantage in the market. And helps them communicate better with their customers and prospects.

Without this adding 'human factor' to choose the right pieces and discard the incorrect ones, it's going to be impossible to get the finished picture that just feels right to your customers.

And infect, help you create the brand you're looking to build and be proud of.

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