Today I'm going to be talking about how to name your product or even company.
So firstly, let's just cover some base ground rules. Now, all we're talking about today is names, not necessarily the brand, even though some people obviously connect them because they are aligned, but branding is also a whole different conversation. All right, so today we just want to talk about the name, okay?
Firstly, don't go crazy about finding a name, and by that I mean a lot of people go spend weeks on this thing. And they do surveys, they go and run contests and spend lots of money on a branding agency and all that sort of stuff, and, yeah, you could do that, but it's not that important in the big schemes of things. What is important is your product, and that's where you should be focusing your money and your time, just on that piece. So forget about spending weeks and weeks on the actual name and just follow some basic rules. And that's what I'm going to cover today.
First of all, domains. Domains for your name. Whenever you're checking your name, you need to make sure all the main domains are available, so don't just get the dot com. If someone else has got a dot net, dot org, abandon the name. Just don't do it. Once you've chosen the name and it works, you need to buy all the primary domains available.
It's going to cost you like an extra 50 bucks or something, but that 50 bucks is going to save you...anyone else jumping on your brand, piggybacking it, grabbing it, and then trying to bribe you to get it back. I mean, it's just a nightmare, so always get your dot com, your dot net, your dot org, your dot io, your co.uk, maybe Australia, depending on how global you want to get, but just buy all the primary domains, whatever you do. Okay? Protect your brand.
Okay, number two, don't be a guru. You might have seen them, but don't use words in your brand like ninja, guru, beast, hijacked, auto this, auto that, bot, blaster, explosion, tsunami. All those kind of words, don't go there. It cheapens your brand, okay? Anyone who sees that, they're just not interested, or they are interested, but they're interested for the wrong reasons, so don't do that. The closest I might go is crusher. I used crusher in one of my products, only because it was on the piggybacking of Gary Vaynerchuk who came out with this great book called Crush It, and it tied in quite nicely, but that's where it ends. All right? Don't do it.
Okay, so number three, trademarks. Pay attention to trademarks. Never ever use someone else's brand in your domain name. You might think it might be cool to start with, but it's a big mistake because if you do get some traction and you get some customers and you get a cease and desist letter, it's all over. You've got to redo everything. You've got to re-brand, redo your site, and it's just a mess. All right, so just don't do it. Trademarks are there for a reason, and also don't sort of play on a misinterpretation of someone else's brand, as well. It might seem kind of cool to start with, but it won't work in the long term. All right? If you get this bit right from the start, then you never have to worry about it again.
Okay, so number four, different types of names. All right, so let's just look and dig in a bit, so there are two fundamental different types of names that you can use. There's a descriptive name, which kind of describes, obviously, what your product does. Things like Toys "R" Us is a descriptive name because it tells you that it's something to do with toys, and "R" Us, everything to do with that. Ryan Hooper recently launched a product called Product Hunt, a community's product hunt. Okay, it makes sense, so that's one tactic.
Never use a descriptive name for your company, though, because it limits your scope. For example, if you created a company called Acme Web Design, then, as you grow, all you can really do, all you're named for is web design, right, so if you decide to get into software or something, then there's no synergy between the two, so don't use a descriptive name for your company. Keep that more abstract.
Descriptive names or what I call invented names or abstract names. So these are things like Oreo, Varo, Crazy Egg, Aria. Aria is the name of a really smart hotel in Vegas, and it came up with a branding agency, actually, called Igor. I'll put a link at the bottom of this video, but Igor caught a successful branding agency, and they publish a really good PDF on developing your brand name, so I'll put that below so you can actually study that, but it's really, really good.
You've got descriptive names. You've got invented names. You can combine them and do something in between, something like Evernote did or KISSMetrics, but those are the key things you need to think about. So descriptive names or abstract names. All right? I kind of like abstract names, but that's what you need to work out yourself.
Next thing, number five, is the two-word combo, so the two-word combo and letter-switch strategy. Now, this is where a lot of people struggle, and you'll find, obviously, you're in a quite mature market. Finding the unique name nowadays is just getting harder and harder, but here's some little tricks that you can do. Firstly, make sure that whatever name you come up with is easy to communicate. So you don't really want to be spelling out names to people. If you have to spell it out, then it's not a name to go for, but what you can do is do a one-letter switch.
For example, if you did content, and content, but with a K. You can say it's content, but with a K. That's okay, and that's as far as you can go, but don't go any further than that. Once you have to spell out double L or one L and all that sort of stuff, it's just not going to work. Make sure it's easy to pronounce. Make sure it's unique and not too similar to someone else.
Two-word combos are things like where you could put whatever your purpose is, so let's say you're creating an editor program and you come up with all the words connected with editor like note, write, scribe. Then what you can do is put adjectives around those. If you've got note, then you can call it Cool Note, or Avid. Avid's a good name. Avid Note, and Avid Note is actually available, by the way.
A good tool for helping you develop those is a tool called Impossibility.org and again, I'll put the link below, but Impossibility.org, it does that. It helps you put in one word and then it will wrap it around different...wrap adjectives and nouns around that word. So you can come up with some really cool names. Obviously, it would check with the domains available, as well. Okay.
The character-switch method is, as I said, where you can change a C to a K, change an S to a Z or Zed, so wings becomes wingz. Lyft, the car company, is instead of L-i-f-t, they switched the i to a y, so it's L-y-f-t. That's the letter-switch strategy. Another one to look at is the foreign-word strategy. Foreign words can be real winners. This is where you can use Google Translate, for example, and try and find a foreign word that's loosely connected with yours so it has some reason for being. You'll find that you can come up with some really cool names like that.
If you look at things like Hulu. Hulu's the online video service, and that sort of came from the Mandarin, meaning to sort of have precious things and also interactive recording, so it has like two meanings, but it all makes sense to Hulu, which is an online video broadcasting service. Finnish is quite a good language to use. They have some quite pronounceable names that make sense and roll off the tongue.
Swahili is not bad, so you can use Swahili, as well. One of my products, my content-marketing product called Kudani came from that. Kudani is loosely translated from Swahili, meaning to imagine or to invent, so that's how I came up with that. Greek and Latin are always favorites. The only hard bit about that is they've been around a long time and there's a lot of names that all come from Greek and Latin, so it's quite difficult to come up with something unique from those languages.
Okay, so number seven now, domain hacks. Now, domain hacks were quite cool. A domain hack is where you can use the suffix of the domain, so the country part of a domain to finish a word. For example, Bitly, so Bitly was spelled B-i-t.l-y, and l-y was the country extension Libya, but to be honest, I don't think you should go down that road. It starts off as quite cool, but the thing is about using another country's extension is that country owns that extension and they have the power to change things, and things change.
Relationships with other countries change. Only last month, we were in Russia for the Olympics, and now there's the sanctions and everything going on, so things change very, very quickly, and I wouldn't want to rely on another country for my business. Bitly had this, so Bitly renamed to B-i-t-l-y in 2011, and it's probably...I don't know the history, but it's probably on the back of vb.ly. Vb.ly was another short, now vb.ly. Vb.ly shortened links to some porn sites, and Libya didn't like it and they killed it. Then that whole business got killed overnight. A lot of people think it's actually to do with just economic reasons rather than the porn reason, but whatever. The fact is that it's out of your control. You have no control over that.
Other examples of domain extensions are dot ST for Sao Tome, dot PT for Portugal. I mean, there are loads of them. Domain hacks, they're quite cool, but I wouldn't risk it. I would try and stay with a whole word at the front end of my domain extension, and you will find one. You've just got to get into it and use these tools that I'm recommending to find really cool names.
Okay, so, of course, the last thing is trademark. Make sure you trademark your domain. It sounds a bit obvious, of course, but one of the real reasons for trademarking domains, it's not just to protect your brand from the big corporate lawsuit or anything like that. What it's really useful for is when you get other sites that pop up and start talking about your company, and if you don't like what they're saying, it's a lot easier for you to go to Google or Facebook or whatever to get those sites removed or those pages removed or to create a complaint if you've got a trademark number because then you can say that it's infringing on your trademark. It actually puts you in a more powerful position to do something about it without having to spend lots of money going to a lawyer. Okay, so that's it for trademarks.
Now you've got all this. You can go and create your logo. I'm going to create a post all about logo hacking. Don't go out and spend thousands of dollars on a designer. You don't need to. You can get a logo up and running very, very cheaply, but that's it for today on domains. I hope you found that really, really useful.
Leave your comments below. Let me know what you think, and if you have any other ideas or any other sites for creating domain names, then please let me know.
1. Book - Crush It - By Gary Vaynerchuk
2. Igor - who name Aria - click here