Very Fast Naming Process

How to find a great name for your business or product together with your developer team in less than two hours.

· 7 minutes read

Finding a great name for a new product or company/startup is a really tough quest. It can waste dozens or even hundreds of man hours, depending on the number of the persons involved in the process.

If you are lucky, someone in your team just had the sparking idea. Mostly this isn't the case, unfortunately. So you have two options:

  1. Pay a cartload of money to a professional agency and hope that they thorough understand the intentions behind your product.
  2. Convene desperate brainstorming rounds with your coworkers/staff members. Usually none of them has a degree in art.

If you don't have enough cash to throw at the mentioned agencies, you're stuck with option two. But i have a delightful message for you: The naming quest can be completed very fast, given that you have a bunch of smart developers at hand.

This algorithmic approach exploits the fact, that the typical great developer possesses an awesome amount of general knowledge and the acquirement to abstract away the reality into logical patterns.

Additionally, this creative process has tight constraints to prevent wasting a lot of time discussing offtopic themes.

Oh, and did I mention that this algorithm is deterministic? (But with a varying result quality of course.)

Following this algorithm, you will have a good enough name within maximal 2 hours.

How it works

This is just a brief summary of the six steps. Read more about the specific steps in detail in the following sections.

  1. identify the two matching colors for your product.
  2. collect association words for these colors.
  3. use different merging techniques to create a few compelling phrases.
  4. take every remaining phrase and expand it to a word cloud.
  5. rate the results and make the final decision.
  6. gather all the created informations of the final result

Step 1: Know your colors

This introduction step is extremely easy if on or more of your developers ever played Magic: The Gathering, but if not, you'll get the idea very quickly.

In the world of Magic, there are exactly five different colors, arranged in an incredible brilliant circle. This is how it looks like:

The color wheel of Magic: the Gathering

Given that these colors cover every possible emotion, feeling, landscape, intention or product, discuss every color with your developers. If you need a starting point for deeper discussions about the different colors, see this wiki article.

You may notice that there is no yellow mentioned, just green. But: this is exactly what you want, since yellow is a really awful color for website themes, and all the attributes you'd associate with yellow are averaged to white and green. Oh, and don't dismiss black too fast. Depending on what you're working on, this often can be a natural fit. Especially if you seek to outstand your competitors in a tight market.

Now choose exactly two of the colors. The combined meaning of both colors represents your basic intention you want to express. Colors that lay next to each other are called harmonic, colors opposite to each other are chaotic. If your colors are harmonic, the final result will be easy for the eyes and calm, otherwise your combination will scream for attention in the eye of the user.

Neither option is a bad thing, but it is important to keep that in mind when you design the first visuals later so that you can use this subtile effect (or lessen it).

Step 2: Associate

Imagine your product, empathize with the spirit of your colors, and collect typical words you'd associate with both. This words can be places, feelings, emotions, animals or common buzzwords. The resulting list should easily fit on a single sheet of paper (normal handwriting, no microscopic stuff without whitespace, be honest).

Do not forget to write down synonyms of your colors, for example blue can be expressed as sapphire or azure or navy or … . Now you have something real to work with (you may call it data).

Step 3: Merge

Now you'll use the gathered words and examine some linguistic processing to extract a few phrases out of it, mostly through special word combination techniques.

For average sized words, it's best to go for combinations of two of them. There are several ways of combination, and since you have engineers sitting around, this analytical processing shouldn't take long. Write down the most appealing results.

Look for words that intersect partly. For example „azure" and „rest" can be combined to „azurest". This is an obviously silly example, but you should get the idea.

Check out which words are contrasting heavily and combine them. For example a color and a smell are contrasting, so „red haze" is a good combination (if it is not silly, of course.).

Bonus if it meets your corporate culture: start drinking with your coworkers. Alcohol (if not too much) increases creativity and often produces entertaining situations and a slip of tongue from time to time. Both can suddenly lead to great word phrases.

Fallback if you don't have a single combination after the other processes: describe what your product is or does with exactly two words. The result won't be amazing most of the time, but it's better than nothing.

You now have some compelling phrases. Do not wait for the ultimate thing where everyone's mind is blown away, you just need something that's good enough.

Choose up to 10 candidates out of them, no more. The following step will eat up your remaining creativity, so the less phrases you have the better.

Step 4: Expand

Take every phrase, and build word clouds around it. Play with your language, lookup synonyms, and so on. Appreciate how easy it is for your team to add more words to the word cloud. Keep the timeframe short and stop before you're running out of ideas.

If you have a SEO at hand, instruct him to look up some keywords with typical search metric tools, so that you have a rough overview about the general interest for your phrase and surrounding keywords. This is optional, but a good statistic to have at hand.

Step 5: Reduce

Now keep your remaining phrases, and judge as a team (or give some scores if you want):

  • How good does the phrase (and it's word cloud) matches the picked colors and their intentions?
  • Is the phrase easy to spell out?
  • is the phrase short? (the shorter the better usually)
  • How easy was it to extend the word cloud and is there enough room remaining for even more stretching?
  • How does the search traffic look like, is there much interest in the phrase or word cloud?
  • Does the phrase make anyone of your team laugh at this moment? If yes, throw it away if you want to promote something serious.

And now, finally, decide.

Step 6: The Result

Unless you started drinking in step 3, you should be done in less than two hours with this algorithm. Now you should not only have a good enough name, but additionally:

  • you know which colors and color schemes your product will be presented with.
  • you know exactly which emotions and feelings are associated with your product.
  • you can quickly decide for matching logos, animals or gadgets, since you already know the emotional stuff behind your phrase
  • you have a cloud of words to diversify in articles, descriptions and so on.
  • you didn't have much hassle to achieve this result, since you just followed this algorithm. :)

I'd love to hear your experiences with this algorithm, just drop me a comment!