How to Name Things

Coming up with a name for a project, game, or business can be really difficult.

I used to get attached to the first clever idea I came up with, as if it came from divine inspiration.  But I eventually noticed that my first ideas were often very similar to the ideas that everyone else comes up with.

For example, if I were naming a Pet Grooming company, my first idea would probably be something like this:

wnw

But if I were to take a step back and do a search for “pet grooming” in the local area, I would see a list of companies like:

  • Bow-Wow Bath Time
  • K-9 Kleaning Krew
  • Purrfect Pawlish
  • etc.

It’s clear that “Wash-N-Whiskers” would probably get lost in the crowd of other pet puns.

So nowadays, here’s how I avoid coming up with “samey” names:

  • Make a list of the names that are already out there in the same category.
  • Put them in groups, to figure out what the common themes are.
  • Think of ways to break from those patterns in an interesting way.

For example, when I was coming up with a name for my tabletop roleplaying app, a lot of the existing apps had techy sounding names like MapTool and D20Pro.

I named mine Fabletop — to capture the storytelling side of tabletop roleplaying.

What would I have called my hypothetical pet grooming company?

I would avoid pet puns and maybe try something more serious, like “J Lesko, Expert Pet Stylist“.

Or maybe something that sounds like a high-end salon, like “Animalé“:

animale

In this case, the name itself would help me re-think how I could make my pet grooming company unique. That’s what the art of positioning is all about.

For more about naming, I highly recommend this guide:

The Igor Naming Guide