A few years ago I wrote a guest post for the trademark-and-branding blog Duets Blog that, if I say so myself, seems as fresh and relevant today – especially today – as it did then. I’ve updated it a bit and am publishing it here as a public service.
The Last Naming Advice You’ll Need
A lot of people will tell you that creating a name for a company or product is hard work. I have a name for those people: suckers! Actually, all you need are a dozen rules, a couple of corollaries, and a sixth-grade reading ability, and a gullible broadminded attitude.
1. Jump right in! Research is for those boring researchitarians. You’re a visionary!
2. Forget about professional naming consultants. Everyone know they charge about a million dollars to come up with names your 12-your old niece could think of. Besides, you’ve named stuff before – your kid, your cat, your wireless network, the cactus plant on your desk. How hard could it be to come up with a legally available name for a company or a product?
3. Put your posse to work. Your partners, sure. But also the receptionist, the cleaning crew, your college roommate who’s only temporarily working as a bike messenger but is really an amazing poet, your 12-year-old niece who leaves cute comments on your Facebook page. Gather everyone in a big room with a few pizzas and a carton of energy drinks. Magic will happen. Well, something will happen. Just wait and see!
4. Describe, describe, describe. It’s all about features! If you’re naming a social-media app, say, be sure that “social” and “media” are in the name. (Or at least parts of “social” and “media,” as in “SoMed” or “MediSoc.” See Tip #7, below.) If you sell ping-pong paddles but are thinking of branching out into lawn gnomes, go with “Ping-Pong Paddles and Lawn Gnomes, Inc.” Or “Ping-Pong Paddles … Etc.,” which keeps your options open.
5. The most important attribute of a name is an available domain. And by “available domain” I mean a clear dot-com domain you can buy directly from GoDaddy for $7.99. Because only chumps pay more. Also because bragging rights. (“Yeah, kxplk.com was available – would you believe? Pretty good, huh?”)
6. Make your company or product sound active by giving it a name that ends in -ly, like an adverb. You won’t be unique, you’ll be Uniquely! (See what I did there?) And trust me: your name will totally be uniquely unique.
7. When in doubt, smoosh the features together. Your software is fast and secure? FastCure! Your boutique sells clothes that are affordable and trendy? Affordendy! Or Traffordable! See how easy it is?
8. Or just make up a word. Any word. People will figure it out eventually.
8a. But be sure the word starts and ends with “A.” Trust me on this.
9. Spruce up an ordinary dictionary word by adding an accent mark to one or more of the letters. (Umlauts are awesome.) Prëstô – your new brand!
10. Still stuck? Crowdsource it! For a few dollars – or even zero dollars – you can ask random people on the Internet to name your company. Just give them a brief description – like, “We make a social-media app” – and let the wisdom of the crowd guide you to an awesome name.
10a. Or hold a contest! Contests are fun! You’ll figure out later how to judge the entries.
11. Focus groups are essential. You want to make sure everyone loves the name you’ve picked. If you can’t afford a professional moderator – honestly, they’ll just rip you off, like professional naming consultants – pull people in off the street and ask them if they like your name. They’ll probably say yes!
12. Trademark protection is expensive! Forget about it. A Google search is all you need.
And there you have it! Follow these rules and you’ll soon be naming like crazy. Even when the calendar doesn’t say April 1.