High-five, you’re past the halfway mark! As a refresher, here’s what we’ve covered so far:
- Brand positioning
- What makes a strong brand name
- Different types of names
- Crafting a project vocabulary
Knowing what you know, it’s important to remember that there is, and always will be, more than one way to get this done. Many founders start the journey the way you’d expect, by generating a long list of names without any strategy or understanding of the naming process (Like me!). But before you start throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, we’re going to offer you a suggestion that will help you work smarter.
Assuming you’re not going at it alone, it’ll be helpful to think about how you and your team can best contribute to the process without also convoluting it. Start by going beyond the traditional, and often ineffective brainstorm, where everyone sits in a room and generates names on the spot. These kinds of environments are high pressure and are rarely conducive to creativity.
Instead, try an approach that allows you to divide and conquer.
Ask everyone involved in the naming process to generate their own list of about 50 names without setting too many boundaries. With this kind of approach, everyone has their own space to come up with ideas, free of external pressures, as well as the collaborative benefits of inspiration and alignment.
Use each other’s ideas as inspiration for options you didn’t get to on your own
- Have each person create their own Google Sheet with two columns: “Name” and “Notes”—it’s a good idea to write down what influenced the name. You could also use Evernote, OneNote, Box, etc. Just make sure it’s collaborative.
- Add everything that comes to mind for a week
- Set a meeting 7 days later and have each person share a top 10 list — we actually encourage you to write them on flashcards or a piece of paper
- At this point, don’t delete any names. You are not officially shortlisting at this point, you are just sharing what you like
- If there are two people involved in the naming process, merge your top ten lists. At this point you will have 20 names
- Rinse and repeat—give everyone another week or so to generate more names. This time encourage everyone to generate 25 names and pick their favorite five. Add these names to your top 20 list; you will now have 30 names, assuming two people are involved
- Rinse and repeat one last time—generate a list of 10 names and pick your favorite 2. You will now have 34 names to analyze and collaborate on
- In chapter 7, we’ll share best practices for shortlisting this batch of names
While generating names, it’s important to remember two things:
- Your stakeholders. You should only bring people to the table who deserve the power to veto, because there will likely be some suggestions that make at least one person uncomfortable—and that’s a good thing. If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up with a name that fits the lowest common denominator instead of something unique
- It’s a process. Don’t set out to find the perfect name on the first try, or you’ll go home empty handed. Worse, you’ll go home with the wrong one. Take it from the founders of companies like Tune and Porch, who both selected names that weren’t obvious first choices:
“Tune was actually on one of the first lists and though it didn’t immediately stick, it was one that stayed in the maybe category. The more we looked, the more it kept coming back as the strongest, most impactful name, and the one that resonated with our people.” – Peter Hamilton, Founder & CEO of Tune
Despite what will initially be mostly fun (generating the ideas), it’s probable that you’ll get frustrated at one point or another along the way. It’s even likely that you’ll get stuck. Don’t worry, we’ve put together a list of resources in the next chapter to help you get unstuck.