– Nancy Friedman, Wordworking

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.

The Rules

1.  Jump right in! Research is for boring people with no lives.

2. Forget about professional naming consultants. Everyone knows 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. How hard could it be to name 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 writes cute stuff on your Facebook wall. 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, 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 maybe “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 or Yahoo! for $7.99. Because only chumps pay more. Also because bragging rights. (“Yeah, kxplk.com was available – would you believe? Pretty good, huh?”)

6. Pro tip: Make your company or product sound active by giving it a name that ends in -ly, like an adverb. You won’t just 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! 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. Pro tip: 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.

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.

 

  • Steve Cecil

    I was reading this on my phone while driving to work this morning and laughed so hard I rear-ended a truck full of thesauruses (the driver was shocked, surprised, startled, astounded, taken aback and caught unawares.)

  • Alan Bennington

    Nancy, Zesty and incisive, a nifty set of rules. I’m hoping Google will redirect this post whenever type-in traffic asks for “name generators” Somehow I doubt it ,as money always rules.

  • MarkGunnion

    I want to predict today that lines from this brilliant, naughty piece will show up on the first page of Google searches for “Naming Advice” before this date next year.

  • Anthony Shore

    “…naming like crazy.” Nice touch, Nancy.

  • Nancy Friedman

    Thank you, gentlemen!

  • Alexandra Wakins

    This is hysterical, Nancy. Sorry I missed it yesterday!

  • Dan Kelly

    Love the deadpan title!

  • Love it! Love the “Pro Tips.” Especially love how #6 and #8a contradict each other with such aplomb. Aplomblya. There, a new drug name is born. This IS easy…

  • Great advice, coming up with a name is usually the hardest part!