The Five Levels of Brand Naming

Startups and agencies, "What's your strategy for creating brand names?"

If sticky notes, brainstorming and domain search engines are your only tools right now, please consider the following framework which can help guide your brand naming strategy. In addition to considering the corporate, core, actual and augmented product branding opportunities; as well as public, registered and service mark strategies; Intellectual Property (IP) lawyers with whom I've worked have helped me to develop The Five Levels of Brand Naming framework that I use with clients: ...

Calgary at dusk

Calgary at dusk


Through her consultancy, Shelflife Communications & Design Inc., (and alliances with other consulting firms, including Material Insight), Sharon has been providing innovative, systems-oriented marketing, branding, research and product strategy services since 1994.  Using a collaborative, inquiry-based approach with clients, Sharon develops and delivers practical marketing frameworks that can last for years while adapting to each client's changing business circumstances. These flexible frameworks empower clients to be able to devise and implement effective strategies, programs and materials, as their needs evolve. In other words: her goal is that the value and usefulness of Shelflife's consultancy services will have a good “shelf life.”

Shelflife C&D consulting areas include:

  • •  product/service market positioning

  • •  brand framework & identity development

  • •  pricing program strategy

  • •  content marketing programs

  • •  website rethink

  • •  business plan feedback

  • •  marketing team mentorship

  • •  support for marketing team hiring

Also, visit the Teach page to learn about Sharon's workshops.


Sample Projects:

Global leader in crowdsourced product, social and brand innovation

Sharon undertook a series of annual consulting projects for the Chaordix executive team between 2009 and 2011. A key project was the repositioning of the brand in the summer & fall of 2011this included competitive analysis,  strategic positioning recommendations, brand ID framework research & development, art direction for the logo & website overhaul, and digital content & template creation (see below).

Following the successful business impact of this brand repositioning work, she was brought in-house at Chaordix as their Chief Marketing Officer in 2012. Chaordix clients include LEGO, Virgin, P&G, American Airlines, KPMG, IPG/FutureBrand, Reckitt Benckiser, HTC, Lloyd's of London, AT&T, Subway, USAID, etc.


Collaborators: Atom Graphics (graphic design), Dave Heaton (website development)


Innovative virtual labs provider

Sharon was asked to help the Hatsize brand better reflect its position as an innovator in the virtual labs sector. Hatsize helps technology communities to efficiently test, train, demo, trial and collaborate in an advanced cloud-based computing environment. While many of the world’s most innovative technology companies had already chosen Hatsize virtual labs to take their complex hardware and software products to market, the company's brand image and positioning no longer reflected this success. The project (see below) included competitive analysis, brand ID framework research & development, website design, and digital content & template creation.

Hatsize clients include IBM, Symantec, Sun Microsystems, Juniper Networks, etc.

Hatsize website.jpg

Collaborators: Brooke Campbell (project management), Karen Schavemaker (graphic design)


World's biggest energy services technology firm

After six years in-house at Schlumberger, (following the acquisition of a Canadian software start-up, Merak, where Sharon headed up marketing), she was the Senior Marketing Advisor for their global software division. After returning to Canada from the USA to make Calgary her home base, and a multi-year consulting contract was established with Schlumberger. She worked on a number of international business strategy, brand development and marketing projects for the firm, through her consultancy.

One project was to develop the umbrella positioning for next-generation drilling products and services at Schlumberger (see below). The resulting "Welcome to Productive Drilling" positioning and tagline was the basis for an award-winning (the American Business Marketing Association) promotional campaign and provided a clear point of differentiation for the launch of drilling technology offerings for years to come.

Productive Drilling screenshot.png

Schlumberger Productive Drilling campaign element

Schlumberger is on the Forbes list of the World's Most Innovative Companies and, in 2013, had a market cap of over $100 Billion.

Collaborators: Schlumberger Houston Marketing Team


CGG Veritas
Cambrian House
Material Insight
McGraw Hill
OVS Group
Patagonia - Elements
University of Calgary


Advisory Board, Startup Calgary
Marketing Mentor, Plug & Play Accelerator Canada
Co-chair, Marketing Industry Partnership Council, Mount Royal University
Advisory Board, Centre for Creativity and Entrepreneurship, Alberta College of Art & Design
The Mayor's Civic Engagement Committee, Calgary
Special Interest Group, Creativity & Innovation, Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA)

Faculty Advisor, Social Media Advisory Committee, Mount Royal University
Marketing Mentor, CTI Go to Market entrepreneur program
Board Member, STIRR Canada Network
Editorial Board Member, The Wild Lands Advocate Journal
Board Member, Public Art Committee Member & Marketing Committee Chair - Calgary Allied Arts Foundation