10 ways to name your company or product

by Eli Altman

Do Not Force Sign

Naming: Don't force it. Photo: Eli Altman

01. Do it yourself:
You know your business better than anyone else and chances are you’re more prone to like a name that you came up with. But, sometimes it can be difficult to name something that you’re too close to. We all seem to be great at giving relationship advice to our friends, but somehow it’s far more difficult to navigate our own relationship problems. Naming can work the same way. Unfortunately if your new name gets you into legal trouble, or it means ‘bestiality’ in Italian, you’ll have no one to point the finger at except yourself.

02. Ask your friends:
You ask them for advice on dating, diets and doctors, why not names?  The only problem is, if you don’t like their ideas, they’ll remember it for the rest of their lives.

03. Get f’d up
You know you come up with great ideas when you are detached from the moorings of everyday life.  Just remember to write the ideas down–hopefully they’ll look just as good the next morning. Hey, it worked for Jimi Hendrix.

04. Call a board meeting
Everyone thinks they know a thing or two about naming and these are your go-to guys. There’s a lot of egos, a lot of opinions and little-to-no chance you’re leaving the room with everyone happy.

05. Use a machine
There are a few places on the web where you can enter a couple of key words and plug into a vast repository of used word parts and Latin cognates. Push a few buttons and see what shows up. For example, if you type in ‘space’ as a theme at nuttall.org, (great name, btw) you’ll get back awesome names like ‘Astrocket.’ Who wouldn’t want to call their company Astrocket?

06. Have a contest
People love contests, particularly if there are cool prizes. You won’t get a lot of great responses, but you might find a diamond in the rough. The downside is that you’re bringing a ton of people into the decision making process and some people’s feelings are bound to get hurt. If you don’t know enough people personally to have a contest, you have  a bunch of new best friends at NameThis. Results may vary.

07. Steal something
It’s been said that there’s nothing new under the sun. If you are going to steal, you might as well steal from the best. Just don’t get caught with your hand in the cookie jar.

08. Ask a kindergartener
Kids are getting smarter and smarter. And they’re definitely going to come at it from a different angle than your colleagues and friends. You pay to put food on their plate, you might as well get something in return. Who knows, maybe you have a little namer sitting at the dinner table playing with spaghetti.

09. Find an available URL
This solves one problem and will likely create another. Everybody wants a URL that is as pure as the driven snow and there aren’t enough to go around. So unless you’re good at musical chairs, it might be wiser to find a name that means something to your audience and figure out a smart URL from there.

10. Hire a naming company
Believe it or not, some people actually do this for a living. And they should be able to help you navigate around the major pitfalls. Finding the right name can make a huge difference in building a brand, so it’s probably a good idea to make sure it’s done right. As Warren Buffett says, “If somebody can do a job better than I can, I will have them do it for me. I didn’t deliver my own three children, I called an obstetrician. I do not want to have some member of my family fill my teeth or try to do it myself. So I go to a dentist. I’m a big believer in outsourcing.”