How to: come up with good website product names
Whether it's a name for your new startup company, product, brand, computer game, band, book or even a song...... coming up with something good is NOT easy! Sure you might have a moment of inspiration, but in most cases it can take hours upon hours trying to think up something that's unique - and even then you might not love it. It is, however, very important to give something a good name in order for it to be successful. Here I've written some help on the topic of coming up with a new name.
Qualities of a Great Name
The best/most successful names are:
- Almost always short - 1-3 syllables (rarely more)
- Usually sound fun and/or intriguing
- Often made-up-words
- Often intuitive - meaning they say what the product does
- Are sometimes a great acronym (people don't remember the full name, they just use the acronym)
In other words, when people hear the name you want them to think "that sounds cool/interesting/familiar". Furthermore you want them to remember the name (hopefully it sounds strong/fun)... and when they punch it into Google you want it to be the first in the list, which is more likely if you own the .com for that name. Beware that some names, when written out as domain names (lowercase and NO spaces) are hard to interpret correctly. For example the URL for "experts exchange" is expertsexchange.com (can be read "expert sex change"). Sometimes you may have to hyphenate to get the domain you want, but best if you don't Ideally it's a short name, meaning the URL is short. Sadly most good domain names are already taken, but can (check domain name availability here).
Examples of Great Names
Here I've provide a few examples of successful names for various products/companies. Note how each name meets the criteria (short etc) above:
- Software Companies: ........ Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, DreamWeaver.
- Software Products............ Word, PhotoShop, Illustrator, LightWave, PowerPoint, KeyNote, Skype, MSN.
- Shops/Food:.......... Coles, Myer, Ralphs, Trader Joes, Coca-cola, MacDonald's, KFC.
- Sporting:........... Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Athletes Foot, Super Amart,
- Band Names:...... ColdPlay, Keane, Death Cab for Cutie.
- Misc: ............. Sony, Adobe, Zoosk, Guicci.
- Computer-games: .... WordsWithFriends, Starcraft, Angry Birds, C&C, Tower Madness, Squigil, Blizzard.
Here's my strategy of coming up with new names:
- (1) Word Map. I always like to start with a word map. Whatever the company represents, I'll classify the different kind of words and write list of synonyms/related words for each.
- Example (small) word map for new camping app:
- Map-related: ............... Geo, World, Nav, Map, Orient, Compass, Direction, North, ...
- Camping-related: ...... Camp, Tent, Hike, Outdoor, Roam, Adventure, ...
- Software-related: ...... App, Helper, Software, Device, ...
- Nature-related: ........... Nature, ...
- Buzz-words: .............. Tech, Lab, Group, Pocket, Nano, ...
- Example (small) word map for new camping app:
- (2) Two Letter Combos. Look for two letter combos. If you add your words into "groups" into bustaname.com and it will tell you what random combos are available.... maybe "compassnorth.com" or "campmate.com" is a candidate, the bigger the word map the better, sadly you may have to add colors or numbers like "geoblue" to get an available domain.
- (3) Invented Words. Many successful companies come up with a new word (like "google" or "zoosk"). Try to invent a short new word by looking for the smallest useful syllables and splicing. Think: "campmo" or "geolay", although sometimes this new word might look completely crazy.
- (4) Acronyms. Try to find a good acronym by connecting random (underlined) first letters from your word map. Maybe you can spell out something like "SCAMPI" (Smart Camping And Map Planning Interface). Sorry, that's a lame theoretical example, but hopefully you do better. If your letters don't spell anything good, use thesaurus and related word tools and start to think more outside the box. When I think camping I think of "streams", "tents", "mountains", "clear water"... keep expanding your word map and shuffling things until you find something you love. Think if it like rearranging your letters on a scrabble board.
- (5) Foreign Language. Try a tool like indifferentlanguages.com, to discover that "tabor" is Slovenian for "camp". Makes you sound sophisticated.
- (6) Cultural Reference. You'd be silly if you didn't consider cultural and historical references. The world has seen many famous navigators and "Columbus" is a well known name, but also think about tv and movie characters associated with exploring (think: "Chunk" form the Goonies") or a mythical creature (think: "The Wildman") or god that might represent exploration. Think of gods, beasts, folklore, kids stories (drop-bears), songs, and beyond. Sometimes it's fun to pick something obscure, because people will ask where the word comes from, and you have a memorable story.
- (7) Word Cloud. If you get really desperate, you'll realize there's words you might not have thought of living on wikipedia pages or maybe you already have the web content... you can paste this text into an actual word cloud generator (where the most frequent words appear bigger), and you might be lucky enough that something jumps out.
- Bustaname.com - allows you to type in (add) a few key words, then click the arrow to add extra words which mean similar things... then will find all the combination of these words which have available .com (or .org or .net) domains.
- WordClouds.com - put in the content of your website or product proposal etc... and then play with the dials.
- RelatedWords.com - will help you find related words.
- InDifferentLanguages.com - mabye you'll find a wonderful word in a different language.
- Hope to add more soon - I found a great free downloadable/executable program for coming up with names, but never found it again, so let me know if you're aware of any such (free) programs.
- bustaname.com - a great resource for finding available domain names by typing in a few keywords and trying different synonyms and combinations.
- DirectNic.com - useful to find which top level domain names (and variations) are free for any particular domain you might want.
- Dot-o-mator domain naming tips - nice little article, and try the "web 2.0 name generator" - tools like this are pretty cool and you may even chance on something brilliant you can use.
- Company-name-generator.com - a slightly better random name generator with a nice mix of randomly generated made-up words and real words paired together.