The Challenges Of Naming A New Product Or Business

The Challenges Of Naming A New Product Or Business

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Naming A Product IS HARD.

We’ve been hinting recently about a podcast tool that we’re developing and one of the first things we set out to do was name it. Four of the partners got together – Mike Brooks, Michael Campasano, Carol Lynn and me – and started brainstorming.

Four months later, here we still are, and our product is still nameless. It’s been a challenging process for lots of reasons and that’s what we’re talking about today because if you’re starting a business or launching a product, you’re going to go through the same thing. We hope our experience can help you.

Different Perspectives

One of the challenges we faced was having four partners involved in the naming, each with a unique perspective. Mike, who is in charge of sales and marketing, wants something with a hook that he can speak from a stage or throw out at a trade show and have it be instantly memorable. Something you can type into a browser and find online even without being told how.

Michael, who is in charge of branding and visual identity, is coming at the naming from a completely different perspective. He sees things in color and imagery and can see how certain words and combinations of words can create compelling visuals.

Carol Lynn wants a good story, something she can tell in the marketing copy, on social media, in interviews and on blogs. Much like Carol Lynn, I want something with a good story behind it, something that is uniquely meaningful.

Somehow we have to get everyone on the same page, and while we’re definitely in the same book, even in the same chapter, we still haven’t agreed on a direction for the name. So in one sense, it’s been challenging. In another, it’s been nice to have the differing perspectives. We have no doubt that when we hit on something, we’re all going to love it.

A Working Title Leads To A Host Of Other Challenges

Early on as we were talking about what the tool would do, Mike compared it to a showrunner. So for a while, that was our working title – Showrunner. It was a fairly literal interpretation, easy to say, easy to remember. But nobody was really convinced.

We also toyed with the idea of naming it after Fred (our audience) and decided that might be too much of an “inside joke.” At first Mike didn’t like that idea. Then he did. At first we loved the idea. Then we didn’t.

On the less literal side, we came up with the name Epodsodic – a play on the word Episode and Podcast. Michael, Carol Lynn and I loved it. We practically had the marketing and logo designed in our heads. Mike brought us back to reality by reminding us of how difficult the spelling would be to explain, and how people were more likely to go to episodic.com, which would clearly not be us.

Remember the part about this being hard?

At the moment we’re still tinkering with the idea of incorporating Fred into the name. We also still like the idea of Showrunner but then the worst challenge of all cropped up…

Domain Squatters Must Die

We definitely haven’t been short on ideas. In fact, we’ve had some pretty great ideas. But where we inevitably hit a brick wall is in finding a matching domain name. We all agree on one thing: we want a domain that matches the product name. And that was one reason we ended up dismissing Showrunner. We thought about DigitalShowrunner.com or ShowrunnerApp.com but ultimately neither of those pleased us.

The problem isn’t that products or businesses already exist under most of these domain names, the problem is domain squatters. These are people who buy up combinations of words and then sit there and wait for people like us who want the domain and are willing to cough up thousands and thousands, or tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mike calls them a pestilence and even though there’s nothing wrong or illegal about buying as many domain names as you want, there is definitely something that feels unethical about buying a domain you have no intention of using and then waiting for someone who does want to start a business to pay a ton of money for it.

In any case, we (much like most startups) don’t have a ton of money and we’re not going to cough up any thousands of dollars for a domain, so we’ve been back to the drawing board many times just because someone is squatting on the domain.

Your Seriously Social Moment

Ian Anderson Gray says that some automation on social media is good, but you still need to display your humanity. Today he’s got some homework for you, so get busy!

Over the next week, every single day, he wants you to do the following on whatever social network you choose:

  • Ask a question
  • Answer someone else’s question
  • Share one fact about you personally
  • Share what you like doing for fun

You may be surprised by the results!

How To Name A Product (Advice From Non-Experts)

We’re not naming experts but we’re engrossed in the process and we used a few tricks to help us get clarity and come up with ideas. Here are a couple of things we tried.

First, brainstorm! We’re lucky to have four people involved but even if you’re solo, you can still have a great brainstorming session. Invite a friend! Then get a piece of paper and divide it into 3 columns. In the last column, write down what you do. For example, when Mike was naming his company he wrote down “marketing” in the last column.

Then in the first two columns, write words that describe what you do – adjectives, nouns, verbs – whatever says something about that last word. In Mike’s case, he eventually came up with “deliciously explosive” which ultimately became “Nuclear Chowder” – a little bit of ridiculous plus a little bit of interest and a whole lot of visual.

Mike also gave us a homework exercise which was essentially a “fill in the blank” worksheet that required us to write down what our product does – not its features, but its benefits. We had to think about who it is for, what it does and what problem it solves. He calls this our “hook.”

We’ve started the process and we’re currently working on refining that hook. Turns out this naming thing really is hard. And the elevator pitch isn’t any easier! But we’ve been having fun (and mojitos) and we know we’ll end up with something that works.

Introducing… The Podcast Tool

In the absence of a name, we haven’t been able to market our product. We haven’t been talking much about it or building excitement. We haven’t been inviting beta testers or building an email list.

We don’t want to name in haste, nor do we want to miss opportunities to talk about the tool, so we came up with an interim solution. For now, we’re calling it… drumroll… The Podcast Tool. Perhaps most shocking of all, the domain thepodcasttool.com was available! So we snatched that up and now if you want to be a beta tester, you can go there and sign up.

And if you have any naming ideas, we’d love to hear them. Just don’t squat on the domain!

Ralph M. Rivera
Hi, I'm Ralph! I'm a web developer at Rahvalor Interactive, a creative marketing services company that I founded in 1999 with my wife and business partner Carol Lynn. In January 2012 we created Web.Search.Social as a branded service offering that brings enterprise-level services to small businesses in an affordable way. I'm also founder and CTO of Podcaster's Toolbox, a SaaS platform designed to help podcasters plan, produce and promote their shows. I teach web development at Manhattan College in New York City. Carol Lynn and I are home based near the Jersey shore but we're currently location independent and traveling the country for a year, working and podcasting. I'm also trying to build a flux capacitor, but that's not going as well as the other stuff I do.
Ralph M. Rivera
Ralph M. Rivera
  • Did the domain squatters grab “broadcastit” or “broadcastitapp”? How about “forpodcastersonly” ? Did they grab that one, too?

    This naming thing is a PITA. Okay, I guess it can be fun, too. But it’s so critical to get it right, isn’t it?

    I kinda like “thepodcasttool”. It’s simple and easy to remember. 🙂

  • Podcast Tool is solid. Wild that the URL was available!