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Ask HN: Picking a name for your product/company
2 points by hasenj on Oct 26, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 2 comments
I'm always stuck on picking a name and I find I always to tend to settle for the obvious not-creative-at-all name that just describes the product as-is.

And I mean that literally. Like, if I were to build a search engine, I probably would just name it "Search Engine".

When I think of picking random names that have nothing to do with the product, I can't settle on anything, because it will always be something that interests or fascinates me (just me!) and I feel that no one else would care about it, or they may even laugh at it, so therefore such a name would not be a good name.

How do you pick a name?

The first step for me, as an untrained bootleg marketer, is to identify the functions of your product.

Second step, identify simple words that explain the function of your product.

Third step, identify the context in which you would most like your product to be perceived in by your customers (techno, natural, family, pet, baby, rockstar, sports, etc.)

Fourth step, combine functional descriptions and the idea you've identified as your ideal context to communicate your product into a solid group of names.

Step five, look at your competition. Analyze the name and contexts of their brand IDs. Don't emulate them in most cases.

Step six, combine steps 1-5 into a name that does three things: communicates your products major functions, identifies the brand ID context that fits best for your customers, differentiates itself from existing competition. A good method for doing this is to google search every potential idea. If it has a lot of results, move on, the name is played out.

Oh, yeah, step seven: Emotionally prepare yourself to defend whatever you decide is the best name for your product against all the random haters you tell your name to.

It only took me 4 days of obsessive, painful, brainstorming to develop the branding for my company and product! It was not enjoyable by any stretch and I still have insecurities about them but deep down, I believe in the brand IDs I have. I think you'll always have second thoughts but many great brand IDs are pretty terrible: IBM, Shell, Facebook, Reebok (are you kidding me?), etc.

Stop thinking of names and start building. Two things could happen: 1) product never comes to fruition, you just saved hours thinking of a name, or 2) the development process gives you ideas for a name.

I'd be surprised if you made it all the way to MVP without thinking of a good name.

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