How to name

Every day for the last, oh, 2 million years or so, we name things – places, animals, plants, Gods, each other. But how?

Three naming stories:

Long ago, I had a friend whose parents were hippies and named him Sunny Day. He changed his name to John in highschool. Then when he got to college, he reverted to Sunny Day.

When I became a part-owner of Free Flow Data in 2008, I didn’t like the name. I systematically came up with over 1000 possibilities but settled on Freeflow Digital

The best name change I ever witnessed was in 2007 when a Salesforce consultancy in the nonprofit space changed its name from The Data Connecters  to Groundwire

Since then I’ve named a few company brands and product brands – even non-medical face masks for COVID-19 prevention. I tried to name a human being Agamemnon but his wise parent opted for Samuel. Feel free to steal Agamemnon for your child 🙂

More thoughts on naming:

1. Meet Perious, Duction, and Hencott. What do they have in common?

  • They don’t exist in the dictionary
  • They are available as domain names, though not as .com’s
  • They’re fairly memorable
  • They have two syllables and 7 letters
  • They seem like English words
  • I didn’t make them up; I found them on Wordoid

Also, if you put these names together in order to brand three related products, they form a “naming architecture”. Such as releases of the WordPress CMS that are all named after Jazz musicians.

Some other good naming ideation resources include: 

2. What do guest, member, associate, resident, supporter, donor, voter, patron, visitor, student, and constituent have in common?

Sometimes they’re much better names than customer. Or client.

3. Naming principles

  • Make the name unusual so it carves out its own space in the brain. Jet Blue not WealthTech. Or: Duracell, Bounty, Gain, Tampax, Old Spice. And about 150 other comprising Proctor & Gamble’s house of brands.
  • Make the name unusual to give it a searchability advantage on search engines. Jet Blue not Computer World.
  • Make it easy to spell, say, and pronounce. Jet Blue not Wii.
  • If need be, feel free to use two words to make a name; shorter the better. Jet Blue. But not three… duckduckgo.
  • Don’t worry too much about a short domain name or a .com (or .org) TLD.
  • Your name doesn’t have to evoke the primary language you do business in anymore. Communo works for example; it evokes Esperanto though they do business in English.

How did you come up with your brand’s name?

My best,
Rowan