I have to admit, I love naming our products. It’s fun and addicting to think of names and brands. I often find myself lost in the thesaurus, dreaming up imagery, and looking for domains.

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While naming a product is fun, it’s also a bad habit to have.

Naming a product before its born is known to stunt its growth. This should be printed in red on every new project. At the beginning of a project, we know nothing and we are guessing about everything. We’ve learned the hard way that this is the worst time to think of names and brands. It creates early preconceptions about what the product can become and pigeonholes creative thought.

Codenames are a fun and effective way to discourage these early preconceptions. A codename gives the product a name, which is an anchor to focus discussion. This frees your team from thinking of how to talk about the product and allows them to focus on what it can become.

Codenames can be fun to pick as well! Every Google Android release is alphabetically named after a candy. Android’s Jellybean was an incredible release, Kitkat and Lollipop were memorable, and Mashmallow was a leap forward in gooey-goodness. Codenames are a lot more fun than version 4.3, 4.4, 5.0, and 6.0.

Pick a codename and move onto product development. This has radically changed how we work day-to-day. We’ve drawn inspiration from Google’s use of codenames and named our product discoveries after arcade video games. It’s fun, frees our minds, and allows us to focus on moving forward.

Photo by Reinis Ivanovs.

Originally published at on December 21, 2015.