You’ve got a great idea, you made a cool thing—a new service, business, product, tool, or experience!
Cool! Now you need a name for it.
Here are my 7 best practices to help you narrow down your perfect name. With lots of real-life examples to inspire your process.
Here we go…
1 – What exactly is your thing? Describe it as simply as possible please—like if you had to explain it to a 5-year-old.
Going with a simple, direct, no-mystery name can be a powerful choice.
: Heal Documentary—a documentary exploring the science and spirituality behind the body’s remarkable ability to heal.
: Nonviolent Communication—an approach to communication based on principles designed to increase empathy, clarity, and quality of life.
: Big Bang—the scientific explanation for how the Universe was born.
*** Fun fact: In 1993 a group of scientists decided that the name Big Bang was not sophisticated enough a title for the glorious and spectacular event that set in motion the luminous, star sprawling creation of the universe. So they held a contest for the rename. They received 13,000 submissions…And in the end, they decided nothing was as simple, stylish, and conclusive as Big Bang.
Moral of the story: simple, stylish, and conclusive is the best way to name things (like literally… everything in the universe)
2- How does your thing help people?
What’s the benefit, outcome, promise, reward, or solution your thing provides?
What if its name was simply a description of the results? How easy is that?
: Become Your Own Healer—it’s a program that teaches you holistic healing and habit science.
: Build An Organic Social Media Content Strategy—a guidebook for getting started with your social media content.
: How To Win Friends & Influence People—book by Dale Carnegie. Gee, what will this book help me to do? Oh right. THAT.
3 – Who is it for?
Who will love your thing? What do they call themselves? Or what do they aspire to be?
Artists, Business owners, caregivers, coaches, enthusiasts of _____, parents of _____, people struggling with ______.?
Mentioning who your thing is for in the name will catch their eye and help them see it was made with them in mind?
: The Artists Way (Julia Cameron) A book that teaches techniques and exercises to assist people in gaining self-confidence in harnessing their creative talents and skills.
: The Mother’s Wisdom Deck (Niki Dewart + Elizabeth Marglin) An oracle deck to help mothers tap into their inner wisdom and commune with powerful matriarchs.
: The Tapping Solution for Teenage Girls (Christine Wheeler) A book that teaches teenage girls the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) so they can overcome anxiety, and depression.
4 – How will your thing make people feel? Does it have a deeper spiritual effect?
Some “things” have a surface-level effect, as well as a deeper effect.
The name of your “thing” might speak to that deeper reward, rather than just the top-level benefit.
: 21-Day Total Goddess Workout (Jannine Murray) On the surface, it’s about getting a well-balanced 20-minute workout. But really, it’s about loving yourself, moving stuck energy, and realizing your power.
: Mothering From Your Center (Tami Lynn Kent) On the surface it’s about tips and practices for moving through pregnancy, birth, and parenting. But really it’s about tapping into the power at the center of your pelvic bowl and using it to create harmonious experiences.
: The Rising Life (Rochie Pinson) On the surface it is about baking bread. But really it is about integrating the wisdom of an ancient recipe into a mindfulness practice that helps us nurture ourselves and our loved ones.
5. What language do your ideal customers use?
It’s important to use words, terms, and phrases that your ideal customers use if you want them to find your brand and offerings relatable and right for them.
Try this exercise out to create a bank of words to use when communicating with your ideal customers.
Ths 5 words exercise:
- List 5 words that describe your ideal client.
- List 5 publications they would read.
- Find those publications and go through them. Collect words, phrases, and headlines from them.
- Take a look at your lists and see if you can piece together the perfect name for your offering.
6. Try using your name or business name plus a descriptive word of your thing.
The laziest — and sometimes, the best! — option of all!
Your business name (or any word) plus one of these descriptions:
: Starter Kit
7. Create a clever unforgettable name by using a play on words. (One of my personal favorite ways to name things.)
Is there an idiom you could play off or a pun that would get people’s attention and make a great name for your thing?
: Caulked and Loaded—general contractor company.
: Have Them At Hello—marketing method
: Lord of the Fries—Burger joint
: Pho Shizzal—a Vietnamese restaurant.
There you have it!
7 best practices for naming your “thing.”
One last piece of advice: If you are trying and trying and trying to come up with the PERFECT NAME for your thing — and you’re feeling stuck and frustrated — the best thing to do is to step away from your desk for a while and give your brain a chance to unclench.
I always get my best ideas when I’m taking a shower, taking a walk, in the middle of folding laundry or cooking dinner. Hanging out with friends or cruising in my car. (Rarely while staring at a blank document and grimacing at my computer screen.)
Give yourself some breathing room. THAT’S usually when the perfect name will arrive.
Ps. Here are some of my favorite tools/naming inspiration sites:
The Online Etymology Dictionary (to research the origins and history of words)
Thesaurus.com (to look up synonyms of words)
RhymeZone (to find rhymes!)
The Free Idiom Dictionary (to find common phrases and sayings)