Manhattan vs. mad hatter - how to name mind-blowing ideas

By James Ralph, Senior Associate Director, Good Relations

Making a concept memorable is tough. Plenty of good thinking goes to waste for want of a decent term to describe it. Matching a fresh idea with a sticky description needs both your inner scientist and creative thinker.

Take digital ledger technology, how much more compelling is the term Blockchain? Not only does it hint to the fundamental components of how it works, but it also sounds secure. If I was squirreling away cash, then I’d much rather it was bound up in blockchain than inscribed in a digital ledger.

Creative consultant, Edward DeBono came up with the idea of parallel thinking, splitting your team and the challenge up, before coming back together. If you are familiar with the process then I’ve no doubt that while we all set off with the best intentions, the reality of putting on a green hat and engaging in blue skies thinking is messy and often unrewarding.

You can never guarantee an idea will bloom, but you can create fertile conditions to ensure your thought leadership engages. That shouldn't be sitting people in a room and hot housing ideas until will wilts to the point of word play, although I have a sneaking suspicion that the alliteration in ‘six sigma’ and ‘cloud computing’ may owe a debt to such meetings.

Once we’ve agreed on a concept, we ensure the following conditions are met before we attempt to craft the narrative and nomenclature.

1.     Have a clear set of insights as to the current situation - audience, brand and market

2.     Set out a clearly understood strategy – what are you seeking to change?

3.     Gather an open set of diverse minds – share the concept and discuss openly outside the immediate team

4.     Give the process time – don’t sit banging your head against a white board, allow people to bounce ideas back and forth over a few days.

It’s not about how amusing, clever or esoteric a term you can come up with to describe your idea, it’s about whether or not it is memorable. So if after a week you’re all using the same wording, those are probably the ones to stick with. So when you’re seeking to name your own Manhattan project, don’t leave it all up to the Mad Hatter, gather your insights and a team and give it time.


Thought leadership works. If you are interested in finding out more about how it could work better for you, join our LinkedIn groupor if you would like to attend one of our events, contact Holly on