Stuck Thinking Up a Name for Something? These Techniques Could Help.
Naming your organisation, product, band, baby, new gallery space, exhibition, book is tricky.
If the name just comes to you in the middle of the night, it’s amazing. More often that not it doesn’t. Having struggled with naming ideas/projects I’ve had before I’ve put down my favourite techniques for naming things.
Start with a brand circle
This is a useful tool to think about what you’re actually trying to encompass with your name.
Think of existing names and words you like
What is it you like about them? Try to think of names you like that are unrelated to your idea. If you’re thinking of a name for a book, look at restaurant names. If you’re naming an app, look at names of TV shows. And vice versa.
I really like You Can Now, and It’s Nice That so maybe when I’m trying to think of a name I should find a 3 word phrase. I also like the name of Scandanavian textile duo Witek and Golik, maybe I should think about using 2 surnames for my name.
Write down the names you like, and look at what prefixes and suffixes they use. Could you use those in your name?
This is a tip from Service Designer, Bethan Mitchell. She created an education service called Lara. ‘Lara’ means ‘teaching’ in Swedish. She thought about what she wanted the brand embody; teaching done well. Then she thought about what country is great at education — Sweden. Think of a few key words you want your brand to embody and stick them in Google Translate.
You could also find a word you like, and assign the letters to meaning. So let’s take Bethan’s Lara. L could stand for Learning, A for action, R for responsive, A for… OK I can’t think of anything. Acronyms can make good names though: IKEA, stands for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd which came from the founder’s initials and hometown.
Now, armed with your brand circle, the names you like, acronyms and other languages. Start writing down words, phrases that you associate with the idea that you’re trying to name.
Grab a few of the post its — could any of them go together? Is there any that stand out to you? The trick here is to not care whether or not the stuff you come up with is good at first. You can always edit later. It’s also a good idea to get a pal to help you with this part.
Most of the post it note ideas would make terrible names. And that’s OK. You’re only looking for ONE NAME. Pick out ones you like, see if there’s any that could make names. Facebook message someone and say ‘Which of these do is a cool name for my new design studio/pet underwear laundry service/app for people with dementia?’ And whatever advice they give you, take it on board.
Check if the # and the website is taken
It is isn’t it? I’m really sad for you. If it’s a good name someone’s already got it. So now you can think about taking the word or name you have, and adding something to it.
Add words at the end and the beginning
Here are some suggestions of words to add to it. Let’s say the name you chose was ‘Form’. There’s plenty of design studios and magazines called ‘Form’ already. Now let’s put it through the pre-fix, suffix machine.
We Are Form
This Is The Form
Just add an S on the end — Forms
Just Say It Twice, like what they did with Cous Cous — Form Form
Or 3 times? — Form Form Form
Feel free to think up your own prefixes and suffixes and use them.