Choosing a product name

I started my company with a reasonably clear idea in mind of what product I wanted to build. The hard part was deciding what to call it. After doing a lot of reading and receiving a lot of advice, I decided the general criteria I needed to satisfy was:

  1. Relates a clear idea of what the product is about
  2. Is easy to pronounce correctly from just the written form
  3. Is reasonably easy to tell people how to spell it
  4. Has a domain name available

My next step was to generate a list of candidate product names. To start, I listed all the words I could think of which related to my product, and to ask other people to do the same. Here’s a small sample of that list: metrics, metric, graph, graphic, graphics, graphing, tinker, savant, guru, sage, insight, insights, workbench, toolbox

As you can see, the words generally grouped around certain themes, or were variations on the same word. Then, I started putting together combinations of words to form potential product names. At the same time, I started looking for available domain names to match. For each name, I looked for variants using the .com and .io top level domains (TLD), and with the words either run together or separated by dashes. Here’s a small sample of that list:

  • Metrics Workbench (all domains available)
  • Metrics Savant (all domains available)
  • Metrics Toolbox (metricstoolbox.com taken)
  • Graphic Insights (only dashed versions available)
  • Graphic Guru (all available, plus: “graphing.guru”)
  • Tinker Graphics (all available, plus: “tinker.graphics”)

As I was working through the process, I found that a dozen or so new TLDs had been added to the usual set, and so I started looking at names which used them (e.g., “Tinker Graphics” uses the .graphics TLD).

I then shopped these around with my friends, family and colleagues by asking these questions:

  1. What are your three favorites?
  2. For each favorite, which domain name do you prefer?
  3. Do any of these create a strong positive or negative association? With what?
  4. Do any of these spark better ideas?

Unfortunately, I found that none of my candidates did very well with my test group, but I got a lot of good feedback:

  • Don’t use dashes in your domain name (for SEO reasons)
  • Don’t use the new non-standard TLDs (e.g., .graphics)
  • Older non-standard TLDs were okay (e.g., .co or .io)
  • Try to find a single-word product name, even if you have to mis-spell it.
  • Suggestions of new words or themes to add to my mix of candidate words
  • Positive and negative associations (e.g., that words sounds cliched, that sounds like a porn site, etc.)

On my next round, I tried inventing single-word product names which sounded vaguely like real words, but weren’t. It was while brainstorming names with a CEO friend when I came up with “Graffer”, and we were both so immediately struck with the appropriateness of it for my product that I knew I’d found it.

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