My Secret Way to Find Good Names for Projects & Startups

A lot of people struggle to find a good name for their projects and startups. Many people either end up crow-sourcing the name (something that has thin chance of success) or end up taking a bad name. I've done that too - 'the FRiEnDz' & 'Meditation Rocks!' were one of the worst names I ever chose for my projects.

The Good Names

But recently I've been helping a lot of people find good names. It's been working well: 64 Notes, Createens, Spojit, Besperk etc were really great names (IMO). I've discussed here what a good name is, but to brief it up:

  • Make the name unrelated to the work.
  • It will save you from prejudice people have with 'associations'.
  • It will give you freedom to take it in any direction you want to.

Example:

Classic Web Design Pvt. Ltd. - a very bad name for a web designer firm / agency.

Classic - better.

Clasio - much better.

You get the idea.

The Secret Doorway to New & Awesome Names

This process has evolved over time. The idea is simple:

Look for 'verbs' in foreign languages that somewhat relate to what you do (but should not make it obvious).

Example: Besperk, earlier Createens, is derived from misspelling of 'te Bespreken" which is loosely "to discuss" in Dutch.

How I went about the process:

  • Decided to look for words "discuss" - that's what Besperk is about. [List 3 words the describe what you do]
  • Tried different languages in Google Translate. [Look for translations in different languages]
  • Try different variations: discuss, discussions etc. will give different results (duh!)
  • Look for a 'sound' that is easy and catchy.
    • Don't look for how 'they' say it - look for how you and your target audience will say it. Think cultural context. How you say 'garcon' and how French people say it is different.
    • Avoid confusion phonetics.( Matsatura is a bad idea)
  • Modify it so it can be spelt easily. Leave out some syllables if necessary. (So Matsautra can become Masasura or Masa or Sura)
  • Short list 3-5 such words.
  • Look for a .com domain - you will be left with 2 (usually you are lucky enough to get one) to choose from.

Swedish, Dutch, Danish and Sanskrit work the best for me.

I hope this one is helpful. It can get a bit tricky but works well.

Bonus Tip: Using a language that your target segment doesn't come from works the best.

Good Names I found using this method: Besperk, Ogmerk, Oyake, Verloop

PS: Matsaura was a Japanese warrior; his name is pronounced as Maa-saa-su-raa.

PPS: Shared my other ideas on naming here.