How do I name a thing?
November 5, 2013 5:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm working on an app project and am having a really hard time doing the whole marketable memorable unique name thing. Any idea I have is absurd or taken. It's frustrating because I'm already working with a designer to bring the thing to life. It's a very visual, beautiful daily mood tracker. I might extend it to include a meditation guide. The idea is to be more tolerant and observant about your mood rather than rating how happy you are or aren't every day.

I've seen previous posts on naming schemes. I'm looking for exercises and thought starter type things that can help jog my creativity. Someone recommended writing 500 different name ideas, writing to exhaustion basically. So I'll try that , but have also looked into literary references, Sanskrit words, Icelandic words, iThing, and nothing is sparking.

I don't think I'm looking for a name here as much as exercises that might help me come up with one, but if you have ideas based on my description I'll hear em. Don't want the word "mood" in the name though.
posted by sweetkid to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You could run a naming contest on Crowdspring.
posted by Dansaman at 5:54 PM on November 5, 2013

Best answer: I've found it useful to read through the Igor Naming Guide.

To spark ideas, I also write down as many related words as possible, look at translations in other languages as well as visit the domain name generating sites.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 6:25 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

This might seem oversimple, but I find reading a good thesaurus for related words can be helpful.
posted by smoke at 6:29 PM on November 5, 2013

posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:30 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: find a book that's relevant to what you're working on. open it to the middle page. the name you're looking for is there somewhere.
posted by philip-random at 7:01 PM on November 5, 2013

Best answer: Pick one of the most distinct moods someone might feel or record when using the app, the kind of nuanced thing that's not just the "happy" or "sad" they'd log in another app. Use that as the name, so that you have a name which exemplifies exactly what's unique about your app.
posted by anildash at 9:06 PM on November 5, 2013

Best answer: Some common naming options:

- A word or concept (Twitter, Wiggle)
- A foreign word (Mensa)
- A portmanteau word, including made up portmanteaus (PayPal, Groupon)
- A portmanteau foreign word (Diageo)
- A shortened word that may change the meaning (elance)
- Phonetic spellings of any of the above (Google, Flickr)
- A very brief statement of intent (Map My Run)
- A made up by memorable word (Strava)

However, it's best to start with your theme and brainstorm your concept. Ultimately, even if it is short you want your brand name to convey something about your brand narrative. Take the key words you have already:

e.g. mood; observe, track, tolerance, daily, app, meditation. Expand this list with the concepts you have. Then expand it again with synonyms that still fit. Put all these synonyms on a single page. Join up the ones in pairs you think convey what you're about. This is about distilling your brand down to the two (at most three) key themes you want in any 30 second pitch or which will feature prominently in your "what this thing does" description.

Do they work? Do you feel you get a sense that these concepts reflect the essence of your idea. If not, go back and look at your brand narrative and find new words to add into the pool and repeat.

This exercise challenges your brand values. You can then use it to search for brand names that are:

- available
- reflect your brand in some way, even if it is one step away from the actual idea (e.g. Flickr)
- are memorable and unique

Having said that, there are lots and lots of brands that break this rule. Pharma branding has its own rules. Law and accounting firms typically go boring and name themselves after partners. Lots of brands just kinda acquired their names (Virgin Airlines, named for Branson's Virgin Records) without thinking too hard about relevance to the concept. Food brands can and do use longer names (I Can't Believe It's Not Butter). Early internet pioneers like ebay had the luxury of just finding short words and not worrying about their meaning. Others just picked names that were short and snappy (Yahoo, Tumblr). However, I don't think any 4 letter .coms are available, and 5 letter ones are in short supply.

Finally - I think you can learn a lot by doing this exercise with other people. You're trying to find something that isn't immediately front of mind. Welcome diversity, ignorance of your idea, and competing views. They will help you sort stuff you feel you should like but actually don't from names that you can live with. The brand isn't the be-all-and-end-all. Memorable, inoffensive, available are key. Everything else can be optional. Don't get too hooked on the idea of conveying a deep truth about your app.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:10 AM on November 6, 2013 [6 favorites]

Being. Plus it looks like is available
posted by stevedawg at 6:09 AM on November 6, 2013

Best answer: Fritinancy suggests a naming brief.
posted by monkeys with typewriters at 10:17 AM on November 6, 2013

Response by poster: these are all really great and helpful answers, the exercise/brief suggestions and the name suggestions both.
posted by sweetkid at 10:25 AM on November 6, 2013

So Many Feels? *g*
posted by oblique red at 1:38 PM on November 7, 2013

« Older Why am I picking up AM stations in NYC and Boston...   |   Go Home, Little Girl Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.