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Naming a recognition programme is a lot like laying a cornerstone. Get it right, and everything around it is nicely set up for success. Get it wrong, and everything is misaligned and set up for failure. And when it comes to employee recognition programmes, which have been proven to have a positive impact on employee engagement, we definitely want to get it right!  

Here's the question I hope I can help answer for you:

How do we pick a name that will be the cornerstone for the recognition programmes we build around it?

Let's start with some examples. Here are a few names I've seen over the years for programmes:


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Each of these names have a few things in common, which we'll cover in this post. Take a look at these steps to help you decide whether your employee recognition programme name will have the impact you’re looking for:

1. Create meaning

When naming your employee recognition programme the first question you should ask yourself is does the name relate back to the programme, and will it have meaning? Will employees be able to easily relate it back to what it is and thus relate and engage with it?

One of the most popular names I’ve used/seen for recognition programmes is Star. What makes it great is that it creates an immediate feeling of someone special standing in the limelight winning awards, which is perfect for a recognition programme.



2. Make it stand out

You don’t want your recognition programme name to be ignored, so this tip, making it stand out, is critical to your initiative’s success. Think about how much information we’re bombarded with every day, whether through email or internal meetings or instant chat applications … it’s hard to cut through the clutter. But if you can capture your employee’s attention with the name,  your employees will be pulled into your programme, wanting to find out more. Plus, this helps create something called “stickiness,” which is when your employees will be drawn back to it over and over again.  

A few examples are Kudos or Shine, which both are words which stand out, creating a stickiness in the name and for the programme.

3. Keep it simple

Your name should always be easily pronounced and easily understood. It’s important to keep in mind that whatever name you pick, you and your employees are going to have to say it over and over again daily, weekly, annually. Any level of complexity or difficulty could affect potential takeup and engagement with your new employee recognition programme. I suggest you try out how it sounds to yourself and to a test audience. This is especially important when working with global audiences, as different words have different meanings around the world.

An example of this is one of our recognition programmes at Reward Gateway, which we call Thank You. It’s simple, right to the point, and easy to say, hear and remember in any country.


4. Consider branding

One common way for getting impact out of our recognition programmes is by creating strong branding, which is the catalyst that sparks emotions. This could include a logo, a colour scheme, a tagline or a variety of other measures. It’s important to keep this in mind when selecting your recognition name, as you want a name which will integrate effectively with your branding, and not fight against it. Thinking through a potential theme with your creative team or your provider can help you build excitement and longevity for your programme. For instance, choosing a name like AllStars or Superstars, you could easily build a brand campaign around using the concept of sports.

5. Think beyond the “now”

The next point to keep in mind when selecting a name for your recognition programme is to select one which can ‘stand the test of time’ as the expression goes. You will confuse your employees if you change it, so don’t rush in, but select one based on ideas and feedback from others, getting one that will be around for awhile.

Choosing the right name for your employee recognition programme is an important decision that requires a lot of attention. Getting the name right will mean your programme will grab the attention and actions the programme needs and deserves. But get it wrong, and it will be ignored or forgotten. Take the time and use my tips to help you get it right, finding the ones that will lay the cornerstone or foundation for your recognition efforts today and in the future.

Debra Corey

Debra Corey is an author, world-class speaker and HR consultant, paying it forward by inspiring and helping others around the world to bring out their inner rebel and drive strategic and meaningful people and business change as the Chief Pay it Forward Officer at DebCo HR. Her career spans 20+ years developing and delivering HR strategies in a rebellious way, pushing the boundaries and challenging the status quo to truly drive employee engagement.

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