What’s your name?Jamie Thorp
The options are in front of you, arranged on a slide.
You’ve gone through three rounds, and narrowed it down to a final, final short list.
The CEO loves X, the marketing lead wants Y, and the agency is recommending Z.
You’ve drawn up lists of pros and cons, made graphs of consumer feedback, filled an excel sheet with trademark watch-outs and available domains.
You’ve slept on it and slept on it again, lost sleep over it too.
But you are still nameless. So, how do you make the call? How do you pick the name?
Well, if drawing straws isn’t your thing, you could try out some of the advice below.
There’s no such thing as the perfect name
You’re looking for the silver bullet. One word that is punchy and bold. That communicates your proposition, values, and personality.
Unfortunately, that word doesn’t exist. Because that word is a sentence.
Like any other written or verbal communication, your name has to work within the limits of language. It can’t do everything, and it shouldn’t try to.
So stop looking for a silver bullet. You might just shoot yourself in the foot.
Debate is healthy, but remember your criteria
You may think the names that are causing furious debate within your team are absolute no-goers. We’d disagree.
These are the names that get people passionate, one way or another. They elicit real emotions, make us think, and are more memorable and powerful than the ones that are ‘fine, I guess’.
Talk about why you like or don’t like them. People might be seeing potential in a name that others aren’t. If things are getting out of hand, go back to the criteria of what makes a name right for this project. That brings objectivity, which is much harder to argue with.
Key people only
Speaking of debates, we’d recommend keeping the group of decision-makers small. You can’t design by committee, and you can’t name by them either. Be clear from the start who is making the final call.
We know it’s tempting to get more eyes on it, more input, more feedback. But be selective. By all means see what people think, especially people from the relevant demographics, but handle the hive mind carefully.
If you find yourself asking the opinion of your intern’s mom’s friend’s dogsitter, you’ve gone too far.
Keep everyone on the same page
Naming is a journey, a rollercoaster, a whatever cliché you want to call it. Make sure the people making the final decision have been along for the ride. Don’t let them come into it cold. All they’ll see is a word on a slide – the story, process and reasoning behind it will feel alien.
If you’ve already kicked off the process without key people on board, make sure they’re up to speed before they see the names. The story behind a name is often what sells it.
Don’t overthink it
This might sound strange coming from an agency that names brands, but names don’t matter as much as you imagine.
No one will ever think about this word as much as you’re thinking about it right now. They won’t consider that it sounds vaguely like a type of South American spider, or a drink brewed by Scandinavian monks in the 14th century. Your name will appear in the context of your brand and product. Don’t worry too much about the infinite number of unlikely interpretations.
You’re overthinking it, and that’s our job.
You imagine every possible thing that could go wrong. You can already see the headlines. That’s fine. It’s supposed to be scary – it just proves that you care. Picking a name takes guts. You’ll never know for sure that it’s right. It will always feel like a leap.
To help you make that leap, think of those famously weird names like Virgin or Apple or Coke. Think of the unwieldy Häagen-Dazses and outrageous FCUKs of the world. Think of all the names out there that have worked and know there’s no reason why yours can’t.
It’ll be history soon
The back and forth in workshops and meetings, the endless longlists, the options on the table, the post-it board, and the flip chart – all of it will soon be forgotten.
Was it pointless? Of course not. It was naming. Just know that whatever you choose, a few weeks from now you won’t even think about it. It will be unbelievably normal. An everyday word in your vocab.
That’s how it goes with picking a name. It feels like the biggest decision in the world, and then it’s done.
So with all of the above in mind, what’s your name?