What’s in a Name?

One of hardest things about putting together a new project is coming up with a suitable name. And, as I shared a while back, when I first starting blogging weekly about this project I mentioned, near the end, that it would be called “Pinpoint” until a better name came along or until we felt specifically inspired.

I even shared that, regardless of the name, that I really cared more about the brand as a whole (and perhaps a mascot of sorts) – we have all lived long enough to interface with companies and products that we love that have some of the strangest names to date.

To make matters even more challenging is the fact that most of the more obvious names are already taken, both from a URL perspective and a trademark perspective.

In regards to the latter, a quick search from the US Patent and Trademark Office shows 334 records related to “pinpoint” and even more than that related to similar names:

334 records...
334 records…

But you can work through a lot of that. What’s most important is the proper domain and URL! And most of those have also already been taken and, like most cases, they are sitting idly being totally unused by their owners.

Something that I’ve been wrestling with, though, is this simply question:

Is it better to have a more “obvious” name related to your product or is it better to be unique?

Where I’ve landed, in short, is that I believe that it is vastly more important to have a product that works, that has clear product-market fit, and that creates a ton of customer value than what the name of the product itself.

In other words, I’m not sure the customer will ultimately care what the product is called as long as it does what it says that it does and it does it with excellence. And if you can come up with a name that is naturally more aligned with the function of the app, then, you get bonus points, but that is happening less and less these days.

You can, of course, head down the route of purchasing a domain, slapping an “IQ” or “HQ” at the end of the name or prefixing it with “GET” or “TRY” or “GO” and when the app does really, really, really well you can buy the real domain name from the slacker who’s parked it for sale.

(That’s how Slack did it, for instance, starting with “slackhq.com” and then building a great product and then buying “slack.com” from the owner. How much? $60,000. How do I know? Stewart Butterfield said it himself.)

Thoughts? What is your process for naming your new project(s)? How do you work through the tactical, strategic, and emotional aspects of naming? I’d love to hear about your systems!

Also published on Medium.

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