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The Smart Way to Name Your Product or Company

I have created many company names including Under10 Consulting and Product Growth Leaders. For Under10 Consulting, my personal website, I argue that people should reduce the number of methods and outputs for their product processes to under ten. But in the end, that company name was too obscure and somewhat meaningless if you didn’t know the background story. By comparison, Product Growth Leaders offers a unique URL that is easy to say and easy to remember—although, at five syllables, it may be a little long.

What's the process for finding a product or company name that resonates with customers?

Begin with your positioning. What customers will you serve? What problems will you solve? How will you differentiate from competitors? For Product Growth Leaders, we wanted to support senior product professionals without using the terms product management or product management. After all, who wouldn’t want help being a leader that achieves product growth? Use a company or product vision canvas to summarize your idea and you’ll find key ideas for positioning your company and its capabilities against existing companies and products.

Find two or three words that summarize your positioning. For example, the Quartz Open Framework initiative combined two ideas: “Quartz” for the hexagonal shape used in the framework, and “Open” indicating the framework was open source as well as open for use by anyone.

Fewer syllables are better. “Quartz Open” is three syllables. Long names almost immediately get turned into an acronym such as IBM for International Business Machines. After all, how many times will you write “American Telephone and Telegraph” before it becomes simply AT&T.

Unique names versus meaningful names. Ideally you want your name to be both unique and meaningful.

  • Business products tend to use words that are meaningful, such as Salesforce and Microsoft

  • Consumer products tends to use unique but meaningless names, such as Apple and Google (although you could argue that Google was inspired by the term “googol” which refers to 10 to the 100th power, effectively infinity).

Get the URL. Do a search for the domain. And if it’s available, buy it for a year even if you decide to discontinue it later. I’ve found that when I return to purchase a domain I’ve searched previously, the domain is frequently unavailable. Also check for available handles in relevant social media channels.

The best names are meaningful and unique. They should be easy to say, easy to spell, and easy to explain. In the end, you’ll likely be using the name for websites and email addresses, so you want people to be able to find you.

Reflect your personality in the positioning. Why choose a generic name? You are unique. There is no other company offering what you offer. Find a name that is as unique as your offering.

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