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:
- Relates a clear idea of what the product is about
- Is easy to pronounce correctly from just the written form
- Is reasonably easy to tell people how to spell it
- 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
.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
I then shopped these around with my friends, family and colleagues by asking these questions:
- What are your three favorites?
- For each favorite, which domain name do you prefer?
- Do any of these create a strong positive or negative association? With what?
- 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.,
- Older non-standard TLDs were okay (e.g.,
- 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.