4 Feb

Naming your product

Naming is probably my least favorite part of the product creation process. I feel like I spend days or weeks just going in circles, coming up with nothing good. It is a painful cycle of thinking up names then checking the domain registry, only to find the .com is taken. It sucks. Though now I have a bit of a process so that I can at least come up with a few decent options in not too long.

To start, I have a few rules this name has to meet:

  • The domain name must be a .com
  • The name should be two words at most
  • The name should be three syllables at most
  • Can be clearly heard over the phone
  • Should not be easily confused with another word or name

I always start by writing down a list of words that describe or relate to the product in some way. Here’s a sample of the words that I wrote down for this project:

  • Plan
  • Email
  • Mail
  • Send
  • Convert
  • Course
  • Trust

There were more, but you get the idea.

Then I plug these words one-by-one into LeanDomainSearch.com (which is a god-send for this process). Basic Lean Domain Search takes your word and combines it with other common words, then returns the combinations that have the .com available. This will leave you with a  name along the lines of these popular startups:

  • SendGrid
  • Dropbox
  • MailChimp
  • Facebook
  • MailGun

As you can see it has worked well for them. Other than being just two words, what do all those have in common? They are just two syllables. It turns out finding short words that have some meaning is quite difficult. Though every time I found a combination that might work, I wrote it down. Often a word would turn up that sounded good, so I would go back and try pairing it with words on my previous list.

For one off searches I used Moniker. Only because I hear they don’t snag your domain names if you don’t purchase them. Something GoDaddy and NetworkSolutions have been accused of doing.

A rough list

Here is the rough list of .com names I made:

  • ConvertLater
  • Helloify
  • HelloTrust
  • HelloConvert
  • ConvertPost
  • ReconMail
  • HelloDispatch
  • HelloCarrot
  • SendConvert
  • CoreConvert
  • SnapConvert
  • ConvertKit
  • BoldKit
  • NanoSend
  • BoldSend
  • SendVision
  • SendFocus
  • CraftBold
  • MailVert
  • HelloPath
  • InkTrust
  • PathInk
  • TrustLegend
  • SendLegend
  • LegendKit
  • OnLegend
  • InkConvert
  • LegendPath
  • GetInkable.com

Another option with names is to go with something short, but memorable, then add something to the domain in order to get a .com. Classic examples are:

  • BasecampHQ.com
  • LetsFreckle.com
  • TheFacebook.com
  • GetDropbox.com

And many more. The problem I have with this approach is that people tend to add the extra word into your company name. For example, my company is called Legend, but the domain name is ThinkLegend.com. Unfortunately everyone thinks my company name is Think Legend. Which is really frustrating.

So I wanted the product name to be an exact match to the .com domain name. So that brought me back to my list above.

Other Opinions

I picked out a few of my favorites, then asked a few trusted friends for their opinion. I didn’t share anything about my choices with them (to make sure to not bias them). Here are a few of the comments that came back:

“Don’t like ‘hello’ at all.”

“ConvertLater is a bad idea. Sounds negative.”

“SnapConvert is good.”

“ConvertKit is good.”

ConvertKit was already my favorite out of the group, so it was nice to hear the validation. I decided against SnapConvert because I don’t like the way it sounds, but more importantly because “snap” sounds instant, which is the opposite of the conversion process I advocate.

So with that, ConvertKit became the official name and I breathed a sigh of relief. I quickly registered the domain and started to use it in the project.

I hope my experience helps you choose a name for your product.

Weekly Review

I’ve fallen behind slightly with my weekly reviews, so I’m going to give you two weeks now. Development is still moving along great. I actually will start sending public traffic to the ConvertKit landing pages in a few days. That’s serious progress!

January 20th – 26th

  • Design: 3 hours
  • Planning: 1 hour
  • Marketing 2 hours (this was working on the sales page)

Total: 6 hours. Remember that week I worked more than my allotted 20 hours? Well, I’m making up for it here. I’ve been on vacation in Costa Rica the last couple weeks, so that’s why the hours are so low.

January 27th – February 2nd

  • Design: 3 hours
  • Development: 5 hours
  • Marketing: 5 hours

Another vacation week, but I managed to fit in a total of 13 hours worth of work. That included everything necessary to get ConvertKit.com up and running.

As always, if you want to follow along by email, sign up below. Have a great week!


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14 Responses to “Naming your product”

  1. Awesome article Nathan. I didn’t know about leandomainsearch.com! I used http://wordoid.com/ to find a name for my product :)


  2. Great post. Coming up with a name is always a hard thing to do. leandomainsearch.com seems like a good website as well, thanks for the tip.


  3. Hey Nathan I like your process for finding a name it’s pretty practical! Also think convertkit is a solid name good job. I know alot of your names were pretty straight forward and to the point. Do you prefer that approach? What do you think of names that try to get to the essence of the brand but not quite so specific as literal key terms?

    For example for your idea, why did you pick convertkit over something like unguard or something else that conveys the reward in a more ambiguous way? Do you think they both have benefits?


  4. Milind says:

    Nathan,
    Thank you for sharing, this is really helpful. I wanted to ask you about the pricing strategy. How did you come up with the $ amount for the three plans on convertkit.com ? Can you please elaborate the thought process?
    Did you interview your future customers to understand how much they were willing to pay for such service?


  5. Nathan,

    First off I want to say I love your blog, and this is one of the few posts that I don’t agree with.

    I appreciate the post, and I think the resources you listed can be useful, but to me this is probably the wrong way to go about picking a name. I can’t say I’m an expert, but I can say that every time I’ve been trying to decide on a name, and I use the same method as you, I get the same results. I waste tons and tons of time, and get generic results.

    A better way is to think about the naming process in three steps.

    1. What is the core function/action of my business ?
    i.e.
    Email
    Send
    Chat
    Store
    Etc.

    2. Is there a way you want to describe that action?
    Quick
    Fast
    Robust
    Volume
    Secure
    Agile

    3. Are there other ways to describe the actions that are shorter, and easier to remember?
    (sometimes these are onomonopia)
    I.e.
    Snap (quick)
    Zip/Zing (fast)
    Box (robust)
    Stack (volume)
    Lock (secure)
    Can’t think of one but you get the idea! (Agile)

    4. Can you combine the words to make a cool sounding name that describes your business?

    Say SnapSend or ChatBox. Etc.

    5. Are there other types of names that might work? Maybe you can think of a clever 5 letter word that hasn’t been taken yet. Or try removing vowels, or adding suffixes like “ly” or “it” or “er”

    All the best,
    Alex

    -Follow me on twitter @Alsocolor


  6. What about the Tim Ferriss method where you run a ~$50 adword campaign and see which URL drives the highest conversion for your copy?

    I guess my personal preference is to let the market dictate the URL, unless I have a specific goal in mind for the domain, such as branding.


  7. Vo Wani says:

    I found the tips in this document quite useful for advice on choosing a great name:

    http://www.slideshare.net/paulvancotthem/turn-leaf-tips-to-select-a-great-name-for-your-brand-or-company


  8. […] improvement over most name generators on the web. Then I read Nathan Barry’s blog post on naming your product that lead me to Lean Domain Search which is now my preferred name finder. Leave a […]


  9. […] other articles you’ve probably already read on naming a project (I found the ones from Nathan Barry and Buffer the most […]


  10. Two questions, Nathan:

    1. What goals does this naming procedure help to achieve? Some companies are trying to build a brand; others are more interested in search engine and other “visibility”.
    2. Do you have any science that backs this naming procedure as achieving the goals?

    Descriptive words seem to drive the entire process. Yet some of the most respected marketing experts in the world recommend using names that AREN’T descriptive (if you’re trying to build a brand). And the science I’ve seen backs them up:

    Heckler, S. E. and Childers, J. L., “The Role of Expectancy and Relevancy in Memory for Verbal and Visual Information: What Is Incongruency?” Journal of Consumer Research, 18, 3, 475-492, 1992.

    Miller, Elizabeth G. and Kahn, Barbara E. Shades of Meaning: The Effect of Color and Flavor Names on Consumer Choice. Journal of Consumer Research. June 2005.

    Mattsson, Jan and Söderlund, Magnus. Word-of-mouth is more than recommendations. ANZMAC annual conference. ANZMAC : Australian New Zealand Marketing Association, 2011.


  11. Nathan Barry says:

    The idea is to come up with a simple memorable name where the .com is available. It’s not based in science, just simple theory.

    The goal is to find a name that is available, and it works really well for that.


    • If you check out the first two articles, you’ll find they show that descriptive names tend to be less memorable. Thus “writing down a list of words that describe or relate to the product in some way” may work against the goal of coming up with a memorable name. The science matters!


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