Naming a name!

Juliet:

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art myself…
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Romeo:

I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.

Shakespeare in his classic love tragedy Romeo & Juliet gives out a message that names of things do not really matter, but what things are is what matters. In the context of the play and in many other contexts of life it makes complete sense.

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But, when it comes to naming your venture or your product it needs prudence, relevance & wit!

Why a good name?

From the brand perspective, a good name is vital for a venture. It’s like that sexily clad, most attractive hooker by the window that invites customers into that particular brothel. It’s the one thing your customers will identify you and your venture with for time immemorial. It is that name which reflects you and your company’s attitude & what you stand for.

Think – Pepsi, Coke, Google, Adidas, Amazon, Apple – all these names not just remind you of the company & its products, but the also evoke a particular emotion which we relate with each of these brands. That emotion is what makes us recall / remember these brands. And that is the importance of a “name”.

Why this post?

Recently, I’ve been in half a dozen discussions where we have been brainstorming a good name for a venture or a product being rolled by a startup. That inspired me to writing this post. This has a direction in which we thought while thinking up a name, a few personal experiences – my philosophy to deriving names – if you please 🙂

Empty Names?

Look around and think of popular brands that you can recall – all of them usually will have “empty” names that will relate to something the product stands for or the brand means. There are far few names which mean “literal things”. For example, Pepsi – in reality means nothing, except that it may be a derivative from “pepsin” the digestive enzyme used in that drink. But we associate it with “a refreshing fizzy drink” now, coz that’s our association.

Safe? Boring? Interesting? Innovative?

When thinking up names, you can either choose to be safe and boring. In other words, think up literal names for your venture or product. If you are selling books, you can call yourselves “The Book Sellers”; if your product is a pill that helps you maintain your weight and diet, it can be called “The Diet Pill”. Thanks to the bombardment during IPL, I remember Max mobile & fo a long time thought that Micro Max and Max were but the same, till I was proven wrong by a friend. This is the danger of a bad name – you will never make an identity for your brand / product / venture. Frankly, in today’s world where there is a million messages bombarded to the users; recall & recognition are huge challenges. These names don’t stand a chance.

So, you have no choice but to be a bit brave. Go all out and get innovative!

Pepsi, Coke, Google, Adidas – these are famous names now, but how easy was it to remember when they started out? They had a zing to it and the entire brand experience made the name stick for a long time! Pepsi was sold as “Brad’s Drink” first – imagine!!!

When you think up a name it’s a brand you are building based on the name. You do not want it restricting your growth after a while when you diversify and realize that your brand name doesn’t relate to what you do.

When I think up names I consider these, in no particular order though:

  1. Who is the initial audience I will cater to?
  2. Does my name sound “exciting” enough for them to try me out
  3. Does the name invoke interest for people to “know more” – frankly, does a name like “GoCarry” invoke interest in wanting to know more for an online shopping protal? For me, NO! It sounds like something I have heard of before, something stale.
  4. Does the name tease your audience? Google / Cisco – these names have a zing to it. It sounds unique and has freshness to it till date. Some company names I like which does bring a kind of newness on reading their names are – Lifemojo / Redbus / Xobni / Reditt / DeskAway / Twitter
  5. Will my name stand relevant 2 years from now and beyond?
  6. Does my name have an unique association that people can recall easily (of course, this also has to do with brand association, but some parts can be achieved in the name)
    1. For Example: Madhouse – we chose madhouse as we had read about this house of great fervor -where a lot of innovation, etc happen in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Grabiel Gracia Marquez and when were looking for a name – it came naturally to us. Also we thought the name is disruptive and will be remembered by people for its uniqueness as it’s a uncommon name.
    2. For Morpheus – we went to the top level of “What we were going to do” and somehow it was aligning ourselves with entrepreneurs’ dreams to achieve and make it a successful business. And so, we said okay we are dealing with dreams here. And since Madhouse was M and we did quite well as a business, we said lets look up names in M. Then we got an idea and said lets look up Greek God Names and we found Morpheus.

Look at something you can relate to. Something the entire team believes in. There is this now popular, then – a college rock band, I know of called – “Thermal and a Quarter” its called so coz 3 of them were pure Malayali’s and one was a quarter malayali. So Three Malayali’s and a Quarter Malayali – Thermal & a Quarter 🙂

You can also consider something that’s common among the founders, something that is near and dear to the founding team. Something that the team can associate with or are passionate about!

You may want to be a little conscious about “What is it that you are naming”. You do not want to call a doctor management system “Cookie”. But you also do not want to call it “EasyDr.”

Don’t be safe in choosing a name, experiment. If it does not work – you can always change it in the initial days of your company. But then, if you have a safe / neutral name – okay, its safe, but you will miss out on the excitement of experimenting. And most importantly, miss out on “Customer Recall and Recognition”. I mean, how many of us consume “Bhag Bakri Chai” – Really?! It may be the best chai in this world, but!

Where all to look:

Experiment with words, look for palindromes, seek “sounds-like” words, look up mythology, history of various cultures and countries. Look into science, math – google, red quanta are a couple of examples. Look at founder names – adidas, konika. Look at nature, wildlife, etc. The options are plenty, it only needs some innovative thought & a good sense of humor to arrive at a good name!

These are some of my personal experiences and tried tested methodology of arriving at a good name. Somehow, many a times its super instinctive too. So do not suppress your instinct. Happy Naming!

Interesting link to company names and how they originated here. So, what’s the story behind your company / product name?

16 thoughts on “Naming a name!

  1. Thank You.The post has given me a very fresh and now what seems a right perspective at what i was looking for.

  2. Naming is a real task. We tried so many names most of good ones (or so we think) are all taken up. So its about finding the right sounding name that is not already taken up 🙂

  3. Thanks for this post!! I think now i can get some creative name for my web designing company .. I’ve come up with more than 50 names since a week .. few sold and rest are bored!! And also I’m curious to know abt the name of that startup company which made this post!! waiting ..

  4. Hey NandiniInteresting post and great advice!What do you think of ‘Design Roadies’? What kind of associations does it evoke (except for the much known one at MTV)?We recently launched our site: http://designroadies.com/Would love to get some feedback.Thanks

  5. Indeed, priyanka. But, that should NOT be your main focus. If you have a philosophy behind your naming process – you will come up with a good available name. Looking for names based mainly on availability is a wrong approach!

  6. Kanthraj, Good Luck for your naming process. I did not quite get the second half of your comment. If you want to know who wrote it. Please do visit my profile 🙂

  7. Manish, Design Roadies sounds good – only it feels LONG. Also, if i were you i’d refrain from using “roadies” – but then its a very subjective thing!BTW, have you checked out wwwDOTscopialDOTcom – a part of our portfolio, much similar to yours.

  8. Nice post Nandini!Naming a company based on recall-value is a good idea and the initial set of potential customers is all one needs to keep in mind. We often fall into the trap of a “please-all” name and that’s probably where we lose the chance a little bit.While naming “Jade Magnet”, we came up with at least a 100 names – some “risky” some simple – but finally decided to go ahead with one that was a little whacky yet something we could justify.

  9. NandiniYes i’ve been following scopial for a while now, but didn’t knew about it before i started my plan of designroadies. I guessed i missed it out in my initial research. I must say Mohit and his team are doing good work to attract great designs.And since Scopial is a part of Morpheus’ portfolio, not sure how appropriate it would be to seek your inputs regarding designroadies.I’d love to have few words of wisdom though :)Thanks

  10. The moment I heard the name Morpheus, I related it to the movie Matrix. And when I saw your contact email address as NEO(at)TheMorpheus, I was sure you meant Morpheus as a mentor to Neo. But I’m proved wrong today. 🙁 Or did I just hit it bang on? Nice post, btw.

  11. Pingback: Mini Success | How to find the best name for your business?

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