A great name can make all the difference in the world.
And taking the time to craft one might be your most important first step.
But you see naming as a mystical practice. Something you’re not capable of.
Well there’s nothing mystical about it, really. In fact, anyone can use the steps below to come up with a bang-on name that’s catchy, unforgettable, and enduring.
And today, that’s what I’m going to show you how to do.
But before you take another step you must work on a short paragraph that describes your business. If you haven’t, follow the details here and get busy. YOU CAN’T SKIP THIS PART.
So, Craig, what makes a name great?
First it’s important to understand what a bang-up name will do:
A great name will bring you brand recognition.
(You want that, right?)
It’s the first point of contact with your audience and a crackerjack name will stay top of mind and make your brand super-duper-sticky.
A great name should …
Roll of the tongue.
Be short and sweet, catchy and unique.
Communicate what you do.
And … be way easy to remember. (because it’s your first step to standing out).
So, let’s make this fun.
You might know I’m a fan of getting away from the computer and using pen and paper to generate ideas. This time it’s no different and will actually be enjoyable.
This exercise assumes you have a Positioning Statement written. If not, that’s you’re queue to get busy.
Okay, let’s kick this off with a fun exercise …
1. Think hard about key words. Really hard. Rack your brain hard.
Kick around words that convey the meaning of your blog. Descriptive words that truly express what you offer.
Exhaust the possibilities, then come back for more.
Keep writing, then expand on those words …
Dig into Wikipedia for word history or try etymonline.
Lose some inhibitions here.
Spend time on this recipe:
A. Think of descriptive words;
B. Then expand on them using the tools above;
C. Have fun and grow your list (then go onto step 2).
Note: When it comes to domains, the generic are usually taken and a domain name search will kill half your ideas. So focus on the creative exercises here to avoid this futile search process AND a boring name.
Lesson: Cool the SEO jets and think creatively.
2. The fun part.
Now start thinking about words that represent what you do in the form of symbols and analogies. Write down whatever comes to mind, be inventive and use metaphorical language. Anything that pops into your noggin is fair game.
Think of compound words: Duckweed, Stopwatch, Grasshopper, … ZenHabits.
Combine two or more separate words to create a new one e.g. Lewis Carroll’s “chortle.” (Chuckle + Snort = Chortle). (Zen + Garden = Gardzen … I didn’t say they had to be great. Just experiment at this point.
Phrases work too …. StumbleUpon, anyone?
Tack on prefixes: ThinkZen, DailyZen, NeoZen.
Or suffixes: ZenGarden, ZenBeat, ZenCamp.
3. Now ….
Break words up and combine them.
The literal with the figurative.
Mix words within phrases.
Think about names that can be used in multiple parts of speech: adjective, noun, verb.
Intentionally misspell, ala Flickr.
Think Feedly and “ly”
State something in the form of a phrase like GoToMeeting.
Or be weird and say, Squidoo.
Just have fun and see where it gets you.
Also, try and sketch out your favorites as a logo. This visualization process will help flesh a name out even more. Think like a designer and see where it leads. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw a lick … just do it …
4. Then review …
Why? Well …
A name that conveys exactly what you do …
– Can sound so commonplace and characterless.
– The domain name is almost always taken.
– And generic is so, so limiting.
A crazy and unique name. Can be fun, make you super cool, build buzz, but can often …
– Be hard to decipher.
– Dilute your message.
– And confuse for the sake of uniqueness.
It’s a balance. You need clarity of message AND personality.
– An offbeat name can create meaning around your brand, but also confuse.
– A generic name can describe brand you perfectly, but get lost in the Google shuffle.
A great name is part science and part intuition. The sound of the words. The image(s) they convey. The uniqueness and structure. The look of the letters and the ease of pronunciation.
Like any creative endeavor, this is not a purely linear process. So have fun, experiment, try and draw out your favorite names as logos.
So, Craig what about my name? You know, … www.JethroBobSmith.com? The “www.me.com” thing?
Well, if the site is going to be all about you – branding consultant, personal trainer, aspiring novelist – www.You.com kinda rocks.
Or if you are still a wee bit indecisive on your direction, your name followed by (dot) com is probably THE way to go.
So YourName.com means you can roll out different brands and never get stuck. Your name always works.
And whether to use your name or not is another reason why you DON’T skip the positioning exercise. It helps you clarify your niche, product or business and hone a long-term vision that rocks.
And even if you are dead-set on using your name only … I still think the naming exercises above are worth the effort. They might help clarify your vision and lead to something unexpected.
So go back to the top, get out that good old piece of paper and get busy.
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