Why Naming is like the Drug Discovery Process

We have written before about how the process of finding a good, new name can be compared to mining for diamonds (see Naming Process), but another great comparison can also be made to the modern day drug discovery process.

Drug researchers identify a broad base of possible raw ingredients that potentially help with some cure they are seeking. These are then broken down into basic scientific components and are examined for which have the right markers.

To save time chasing the wrong markers, the most promising ones are immediately checked by a toxicologist, so that any negative know side effects or problems are weeded out at this stage. Only the surviving chemical or natural compounds are then taken for detailed study in the pharmaceutical lab, as the scientists search for that one magic answer.

Along the way, hopes are raised and dashed, and the process twists and turns. Sometimes whole new avenues to explore emerge. Sometimes solutions are discovered but they are for some other problem or entity, and not the one at hand funding the studies.

And finally there is something to test and check and discuss. Now to gain consumer feedback and results before the drug goes live. Of course, there is the big regulatory hurdle to get over with the FDA (and other bodies).

Similarly with naming, we first identify a large number of potential names and name styles. We remove the ones that definitely have a problem, especially negative connotation or pronunciation problems. Then we study those further and see which ones are more likely to provide a positive response to the target audience.

Names (with some pharma exceptions) don’t have to go through Federal regulatory approval, but they do have to go through legal approval. A great name that has a trademark problem is definitely a no go. So there is a very practical usage side to both names and drugs for a new one to be fully accepted.

A great name, without matching domain, is too hard to implement in many cases. Just like a good drug that is too hard to administer is a non-starter too, this name may have to be discarded despite all its promise through the process.

But at the end, a good name is embraced and used by a company for product or service branding, and is acceptable to all constituents. Just like a good new drug is embraced by the medical and relevant patient population.


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