Here’s a enthusiastic endorsement of professional naming services from a very satisfied client. Not my client, I hasten to add. But I recommend that you read the Reverb story anyway.
Reverb is the new-ish corporate name for the company that produces the online dictionary Wordnik and related tools. It’s a strong name for many reasons: it contains verb (a part of speech), it suggests reverberate (energy!), it’s suggestive rather than descriptive, and so on. But this particular story is less about the result than about the process that led to it.
Company founder Erin McKean – no neophyte at the word game herself – writes that when the management team realized they’d outgrown Wordnik as an umbrella name, they were smart enough to hire experts:
We wanted not just outsiders who could look at our company and our values dispassionately; we wanted expert outsiders who had done this many, many times before.
Of course I wish I could tell you they hired me, but they did not. They did hire a couple of experts I admire greatly: Michael Cronan and Karin Hibma.
I recommend the whole story to anyone who is a) interested in becoming a name developer or b) needs to develop a name for his or her own company or product. Here are two of the things Erin says she and her fellow executives learned:
- Your new name doesn’t have to be everything to everybody, and it shouldn’t try to do everything for everyone. It just has to convey a key point, and a distinctive one.
- If you really love a name, you will find a good-enough URL, so don’t worry if you can’t get the one you want.
- Someone is going to hate the name for no apparent reason. They will probably email you in ALL CAPS about it. That’s okay.
This story has a poignant coda: Not long after he worked on Reverb, Michael Cronan succumbed to cancer. He did brilliant work to the very end.
UPDATE: In 2015 Reverb was sold to another technology company, which has since discontinued the app. The link to the name story no longer works, alas.