In SMPL Q+A, we interview Siegel+Gale practitioners on all things relevant to branding, design and simplicity. Here our Group Director of Naming, Aaron Hall, talks about creating a TV show name and its role in building the show’s brand.

What are the most important considerations when creating a name for a TV show?

Aaron Hall: When you have the opportunity to read through a script, it’s often important to try to find a connection to character motivations, dialogue, or some other unique aspect of the show. Sometimes, you even get to watch a pilot episode while naming the show, which helps tremendously. You get a sense of tone and pacing, as well as seeing the dialogue in action. All of this allows us to create better, more relevant TV show names.

As a namer, what are some of the things that inspire you most about the process of naming a TV show?

AH: Unlike naming other things like companies and products, TV shows aren’t trademarked, which frees up our creativity quite a bit. We still screen them against IMDB and conduct a broad internet search to ensure there isn’t a recent TV show or movie with the same name. But, we generally get to be far more creative with naming a TV show.

It’s also really refreshing to immerse ourselves in a protagonist’s life and motivations and attempt to find a name that connects to that character in a real, human way. We often find ourselves asking, “Would the character say the name of the show in her normal everyday speech?” This is similar to how we imagine a consumer saying the name of a company or product. A TV show name has to connect deeply with one or more fictional characters, and that’s a really fun exercise.

And finally, there’s just something exciting about seeing a name you created sit alongside other famous show names. We think about this as we develop names. How will this name feel on a list of shows next to The Handmaid’s Tale or Stranger Things? Context matters for all names we create. For TV shows, the context is different, but perhaps even more critical. We hope our new name captures someone’s attention in a list of so many other names and gets a viewer to give it a chance.

Within today’s world of streaming content, what would you say is the role of a TV show name when it comes to building a show’s brand? 

AH: TV show names have some heavy expectations resting on them. Among other things, the TV show name needs to: 

  • Capture viewers’ attention
  • Say something unique or intriguing about the show
  • Use relevant or arresting language and cultural cues 
  • Not use trendy language so it won’t age or go out of style
  • Be appropriate for whatever twists and turns the show may take as it moves into subsequent seasons
  • Represent a cast of characters and actors that may change over time