Transcription: How to Name Your Company

By David Card

This is the word-for-word transcription of our top-rated webinar on how to name your company. Learn how to tackle this daunting task and mistakes to avoid as founder David Card walks through a six step process for success.

All right. We’ve got some participants still coming in right now, but let’s get started. So thanks for joining us on this unusually warm December day. I’m glad you’re here for this webinar. We’ll start with a quick note. C42D webinars cover a different marketing topic. Our format is as follows. I will cover my prepared remarks for about 30 to 45 minutes. At the end, there will be time for questions. If you have a question at any time, you may type it in the Q&A box. Video of this webinar will be available on by the end of the week. All right.

How to name your company. A lot of interest in this topic. Obviously it’s something that’s on the minds of some of you as well as us. And this is a really exciting topic for me. It’s one of those that practically produced itself. It started with me having a conversation with our guest expert, Susan Manning, who’s a consultant that we’ve used to help us with naming in the past and we were talking about trends that we see in naming. It was all sparked by a client asking me in a meeting, what trends do you see in naming these days for companies? And I hadn’t really thought about it so I didn’t have an answer on the spot, but that got me thinking about it and thinking about the larger topic of how to go about naming your company.

All right, so getting into our agenda. Let’s start with a quick introduction to the topic, then we’re going to examine what makes a good name and we’ll look at some of the approaches that you can take and what are the qualities of a name that drives engagement. Then we’re going to walk you through a six step process that you can use to generate some ideas and evaluate them. We’ll touch upon what to avoid, so mistakes that you want to try not to make along the way. Then we’ll end up with a list of resources that you can use to help you, if you’re going to embark on this journey. We’ll sum it all up and we’ll have some time for questions at the end.

So the first point I want to make is naming is only one part of your brand system. It’s only part of a whole. Here you see the NASA brand graphic standards manual, and I’ve put this here to make the point that the name’s only part of an entire branding system. It’s important, but you have to remember there’s lots of other things, there’s tons of other things that are going to inform your positioning, tell the story of your brand, et cetera. Plenty of bad or even mediocre names have become incredibly effective through great advertising. So I guess the lesson here is that if you have enough dollars, and granted not lots of people have unlimited money to spend, but with the right work, any name can become effective.

Another thing is it’s impossible to convey a complex positioning through your name. So your positioning, it’s something that we harp on here at C42D is, what you do relative to your competition and the value you provide to your customers. But a name’s not going to do all that lifting. You rely on your entire, and summing it all of it is important, but it’s not a make or break decision. So the entire success of your company doesn’t fall upon just the name. It’s definitely an important piece, but don’t feel like this immense pressure that you have to have perfect name. It’s just not the case.

So what makes a good name? The first thing a lot of people might do is this, they’re going to type it into Google. Google is going to say, “Hey, I’ve got a few articles you might run a read,” and they’re all going to come up with the same folk wisdom. And what they’re going to say is you want to make it short, you want to make it easy to spell and you want to make it memorable. And I say hogwash to all of this because there’s plenty of examples of companies that did not have a short name, they did not have a name that was easy to spell. So tell me if you can spell Arc’teryx without looking at it. That’s an outerwear company. They compete with companies like Patagonia, the North Face, Canada Goose. In this category where everyone’s talking about cold weather and mountains, they’re coming up with a completely different approach, which I think is actually very distinctive. There are great coats, very warm. If you’re in the market for one this December.

The final piece is memorability or making a name that’s memorable. This is something that’s inherently subjective. It’s built through time and repetition. So in order for something to become memorable, by definition, it has to be repeated over time. And a quality like that is just impossible to quantify it in the evaluation phase when you’re evaluating the effectiveness of your names. So by just looking at a name in saying, “Oh, that’s not memorable,” you just can’t do it. So throw the folk wisdom out the window and aim for something that’s distinctive. Our subject matter expert Susan says, “You’re not going to blend comfortably into a sea of sameness. You set your brand apart and stand for something.” So standing for something to me takes one thing. It takes courage.

And here’s what I considered to be the athlete of the century. Alex Honnold who climbed El Capitan with no ropes whatsoever, which is pretty much the scariest thing any human being could do ever. And to me it takes, you have to muster the courage to go forward with a name that’s going to be distinctive. It may not be the one everyone on your team agrees upon, but you definitely want something that’s going to stand out. So what makes a good name? We’ve narrowed it down to about six qualities and I’ve gotten some great support here from a book called Merriam’s Guide to Name by Lisa Merriam. We’re going to reference that when we get to the resources. But number one, a great name to be unusual. So eBay instead of auction web, I think is a name that really was distinctive at the time. It kind of falls into the cliche around turn of the century when everything had an E in front of it and some companies still do. But cliche or not, eBay was a much more original name than something like auction web.

Secondly, it should be distinctive. Best business solutions, I don’t know if this is real or not, but the word solutions gets thrown around so much. It’s essentially meaningless. You want something that’s going to stand apart from the best business solutions of the world. Something that has a deeper meaning, right? Oracle, which offers some sort of predictive software solutions to their clients is a great name. As you know, Oracles are mythological and TVs that would tell you your future and I think having that deeper meaning is a great way to go. Having a vivid name that connects emotionally, Häagen-Dazs conjures this imagery of a foreign country and it’s Swedish. It’s this velvety, smooth, vanilla ice cream. Yeah, folks, it’s from Brooklyn, and Häagen-Dazs is not even a real word or real name, but hey, it makes that emotional connection.

Whenever you come up with it’s got to be legally viable and the US Patent and Trademark Association has a great tool for that. We’ll talk about that in a little bit. And finally, never use an acronym, unless you’re C42D which in that case it’s perfectly fine. But yeah, acronyms are, they’re really hard to build unless you have lots of time and lots of money to invest in building brand equity. Carrie, I see you’ve got a question. We’ll get to the Q&As at the end, but please continue to type questions as you go along and we’ll be sure to get to all of them.

I’m going to show you here a few naming archetypes. Archetypes as you know are what I would consider to be these general buckets or categories in terms of a creative direction that you could take. There’s various approaches and hopefully some of these will spark some ideas for you. So the first name is, or the first archetype or idea is going with the founder’s name or initials. So we’ve all heard of Andressen Horowitz, the famous venture capital firm out of Silicon Valley, shorthand for their name is a16z because there’s 16 letters between the A, in Andressen and the Z. And Horowitz, I would also say this violates the easy dispel rule, right? Like how many people think it’s Andressen Horowitz? It’s not. So that’s one approach that you can use.

The next two combination words in descriptive, they’re kind of similar. It’s about combining words to describe a product or a function. HubSpot is a popular CRM. Again, combining the two words of hub and spot or Kindbody which is a brand that we branded, here at C42D. And I really think this is the way to go these days. You can take two words, put them together and come up with things like Soapkosar or Blueglass or whatever. But to me this is much more evocative than making up a made up word, which is what a lot of startups do these days. I think this is a way better approach because the words have instant meaning because they’re real words.

Rhymer alliteration. So YouTube, I think that’s assonance when you’re rhyming the vowels. But that idea or that approach tends to produce a name that has a great ring to it. Other ones are like Jamba Juice or things like that. So rhyming and alliteration is another approach that you can take. Appropriation is taking one meaning and applying it to another thing. So in this case, we have I believe it’s a B2B SaaS solution called Plaid. Plaid is obviously a pattern that fashion designers use or a lumberjacks use on their flannel shirts. But in this case, they appropriated one idea, they applied it to another. Another great example of that is Square. Square is a payment system, obviously Square is the Square, has nothing to do with payments, but they’ve appropriated that concept and they’ve applied it for a nice distinctive name.

Evocation is a name that calls forth a rich visual meaning. So Humankind is a company that produces products that seek to eliminate a single-use plastic, obviously, there’s mission-driven positioning and the idea of humankind or something that’s for all humankind has a nice evocative feel to it. The coined word Repli is a name that we came up with here for a copier as a service company. So the idea of copiers replication, Repli, that’s the coined word that we came up. And again, I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad approach, but lately,I I’ve been feeling the combination is a better way to go. For an influencer, we all know Volvo, I believe that’s Latin for “I roll” and taking words from other languages and mixing and matching them and calling forth another meaning or creating a word based on a foreign influence is an approach that’s been around for decades. And you can have a lot of success with that.

Onomatopoeia, if you remember from high school, English class is a word that literally sounds like the sound that it is. So Twitter, tweet, tweet, that’s what birds do and that’s where Twitter came from. Geography is another approach. I don’t know how many of you know, but Cisco is short for San Francisco, and the little symbol you see above that of wavy lines is actually symbolic of the golden gate bridge. So if you didn’t know that, you just learned something. So geography can be another route that you can take.

Personification, this is something that’s a huge trend these days, especially in healthcare. You see a lot of these first names being used for companies. You see Oscar, also other companies that have come out recently are Albert, Lucy, Ali, Penny, Pearl, Riley, and almost just about every name. But I’m not sure we’re going to see a Donald, right? So be aware of your cultural context. That’s another thing that we’re going to talk about later. Finally, using a clever phrase. So Elon Musk is the boring company name of the year and my book, has the dual meaning of boring through stone to dig out the Hyperloop and it’s also kind of tongue in cheek about what a boring company is. All we do is drill for a living, right? So a clever phrase that can always be something that gives you that element of distinction.

And just the other day I was waiting in line at the supermarket, which is probably my least favorite thing to do. But I took a moment and I just, I looked around at some of the candy and some of the products that were sitting around and it’s kind of this fun game. You can try and do and now that you know all these approaches, but if you look at some of the names you just see on the shelf and supermarkets are great because there are a thousand names everywhere all around you, but you can just try and see some of the approaches people are taking. So I saw like M&M, saw that’s the founder’s name of the initials. The Fiji water was using geography, Altoids was using a coined word. It was really cool to just see this variety of approaches being used and really there’s no wrong approach and that the key thing that each person had was they were distinctive.

So now we’re going to jump into our six-step process. Step one is counterintuitive, don’t start by thinking of names. You actually don’t want to do this. What you do want to do is write a brief. So this is something we do in the creative profession. We like to write brief before we start any project. It gives you a roadmap for where you want to go, and you want to make sure your brand is already fleshed out. So if you haven’t thought about things like your company values, your positioning, your target audience, your overall business branding strategy or hopefully at least you have a business strategy, this process, it can be really a lot more difficult. You want to take a moment and you want to do the work because a good name is authentic is going to represent all these great things that your company stands for and what you at least hope to achieve.

Start with step one, write a brief, one of the things that you want to have on there. Start with the basic info. What’s the overall timing? Who’s running the project? Who are the key decision-makers? What are the key dates, the who, what, where, why, when, and how? You always want to at least start with that. Do a brief description of your business. This could be like your business name, your vertical, your description, what you do, go into the services or the products that you create or provide. What are the benefits that people get from using your product or service? Yeah, benefits, there we go, and who do you provide for? So who are your customers? Do you have personas? Are they fleshed out? If not, now’s the time to put a little thought behind that and take this abstract concept and turn it into real people with real needs and real wants.

You definitely want to at least think about your competition and the names of the other companies that you’re competing with along with what their positioning is or their positioning statements or language. And here’s one that most people might not think about but I think is really important. Go into your company history. Why was the company started? What mission are you on? What good are you trying to solve in the world? Do the founders have any unique qualities about them? Are they quirky? Are they left-handed? What are some of the associated words or imagery that come to mind when you think about the story behind your company or the history of the founders of the history of the company?

And then last but not least, your company strategy. What’s the positioning? What’s your unique selling proposition? What are some of the words or qualities of your culture or that describe your company? And here you want to try and avoid the cliche language. Show me a company that doesn’t have great customer service or passionate people or we really believe in transparency. These are the things that everybody does people, and nobody doesn’t have good customer service or maybe cable companies, right? But we’re not going to go into that. But here you really want to put down things that are honorable and unique and specific to your company that just doesn’t sound like what everyone else is saying. These words are going to form the basis for you to go out and brainstorm a big list, right?

Let’s review what we mean by that. Now’s the time that you can start generating names. You’ve got your brief together, you want to invite all the key stakeholders to participate because the last thing you want is someone who’s got the yay or nay decision making quality to them feeling left out of the process. So bring everyone together and use your brief as the point of departure, which is going to give you the inspiration to start generating as many as possible. It really doesn’t matter if they seem all over the place. In fact, that’s a good outcome.

There are tons of online tools you can use for word associations and we’re going to go into that when we get to the resources page. But one way, just by way of example, what I’ll do is I’ll go to and I’ll take a few of those words that describe what we do or something like that. And I’ll just if the Thesaurus … God, it’s a hard word to pronounce. That definitely doesn’t qualify for something that’s easy to say, right? That’s going to give you other words that mean the same thing. And if you click on one of those words, you’ll get the words that mean similar to that. And it’s almost like a mind-mapping exercise, but it’ll allow you to start exploring different things that evoke a similar meaning or you might start to see like two words that you can combine and use that a combination approach.

There are also other resources you can use where you can research the root origins origin, silver word or where a word in English or another language came from and some of that can provide some fodder. Really we’re looking at putting together as many ideas as possible, and we want to get everything together on one master list ideally is in a central location where everyone can see it, everyone can comment on it. So you could use Google Docs, you can use Evernote, you can use Notion, your own company, Wiki, whatever you think is good, try to get it all in one centralized location.

And then once you get this first round, ideally you have hundreds of words, some people go as far as to write thousands. I’ve never gone that far, but more power to you if you can. What you want to do is you want to try on your first round. So just like a new outfit, you want to try it on you to see how it feels. Does my butt look big in this? Is this outfit me? Go through your master list, start highlighting the ones that really stand out. You don’t necessarily want to shoot things down, but you do want to start bringing to the front things that might be interesting. You want to give every name the proper chance it deserves and then imagine it in different situations. So like advertising, how it can be used internally, how it can be used externally and so on.

Another thing you want to do is you want to say it out loud. So how does it sound? I had a friend once, we haven’t spoken in a while, but he created a company called it Global Vault. Say it first. It may not roll off the tongue so easily and certain things may sound different than they look on paper. So always make sure you speak it. And more importantly, how does it make you feel? Does it create a mental picture? That’s a really important quality that we’re going to talk about when we evaluate the names. How does it make you feel?

There are a few pitfalls or mistakes that you can make when you evaluate them. We’re going to highlight some of the bigger pitfalls to avoid. One is not evaluating against the brief that you wrote. So remember, the brief ideally is outlying what you’re trying to achieve here, some of the key strategic points that you’re hoping to achieve by just looking at it and saying, “Oh, I don’t like it. I just don’t like it.” This is the biggest mistake you can make.

Naming as I said before, it’s subjective and honestly, any kind of voting process is not good. We don’t necessarily want our name to try to do too much. It is just a name. It’s not going to solve all your positioning headaches. It’s not going to be instantly memorable. As we said, memorability is something that is built over time and the thing that you want to look for here is distinction. Don’t go for the name that everybody agrees on, but nobody is excited about. We want something that’s going to be distinctive and it’s going to stand out. Scott’s asking if the slides will be shared after the presentation. Yes, we will have the video available if this on by the end of the week.

How do you go and get feedback, right? I think the one thing you want to remember is your ideal name is going to make your prospects think the right thing about your company. That is the function of a good name. And remember you, the founders, whoever you are as CMOs, you and your employees are not the prospects. So get out of the box. What you want to do is get feedback from regular people who are outside the organization. This could be potential customers, this could be your friends, your mom, the waiter, the diner, random guy on the street, the newspaper delivery boy. If people still do that, I guess they don’t, shine my age here. But ideally what you want to do is get some feedback from people outside the organization. What I’d suggest is, take some of the names that you think have potential, but you want to put these on like a three-by-five-card. Ideally, you’ve got five or 10 and just show these to random folks.

The more diverse the sample of people you can have, the better. Show them the card and don’t ask them, “Hey, do you like this name? Hey, we’re coming up with a name for a new food delivery product. What do you think of Instacart?” No, you want to show them the card and just say, “What pops into your head when you read this.” And then just stand back, smile, listen, write down what they say. Ideally, you want to track all these responses somehow and hopefully, you’re going to see a pattern emerge after a while. But the other approach would be if you can afford a quantitative or qualitative analysis. If you got the box, if you got the time, great, go for it.

Any research is good research and formal research can always be helpful as well. Although I do think the random person feedback can be just as valuable. If you get a large enough group of people together, I think you’re going to start to see some patterns and some clear winners are going to emerge. So that’s just a note about feedback. We’ve got a list we started to narrow it down. Now we want to really start narrowing it down to a shortlist. We’re going to keep using a couple more ads stock photo images throughout this presentation. It’s the only chance I get to use them, so that’s great. Narrow it down to a shortlist and what do we mean by that? So you’re going to continue the trying-on process and you’re going to cut things down.

Ideally, you’ve got this Google doc together and you’re highlighting the ones that are starting to stand out and now you want to … this is where having a little time in your process helps. Just like anything else, you want to ruminate on the ones that are sparking an emotional reaction. You got to try and live with it and this is something that Susan and I spoke about for a while. This is the step that really tends to get glossed over. People just, they look at the list, are like, oh I like this one. I don’t like that one. But really trying to give it a little time. Ideally, I believe a couple of weeks is good. It’s almost like writing. When you write the first draft on something, you always want to let it sit because when you go back to it and you revisit it, you’re going to see things that you didn’t see before.

Again, you want to solicit feedback from outside the company if you can and some new ideas might pop in and that’s actually good at this point. Sometimes, some things or some feedback you get might spark the creative juices in another direction, add them to the list. There’s still plenty of time and there are no bad ideas at this point. But ideally, at this point, you’ve got things narrowed down to a shortlist and maybe you’ve got it down to finalists of candidates and here’s where you want to make sure that everything is kosher. What do I mean by that?

You don’t want a name that’s going to get your company sued, get a cease and desist. I’ve actually seen this happen before. It’s not pretty. You want to make sure you familiarize yourself with a tool called TEST is the Trademark Electronic Search System. It’s something that’s an online tool. It’s run by the US Patent Trademark Office. We’ve actually written a guide to this tool. You can check it out on but this is a tool that allows you to search within your specific industry if anybody else is using a similar name or even using a similar mark. It’s no good if somebody’s in the same category vertical as you are using a similar name or even a similar mark.

There’s a recent case I just saw where a company had a brand mark completely different name, but their mark looked like the Under Armor little X symbol that they use. And honestly, it wasn’t super close, but you know what? From a distance it was confusing and if there’s even the opportunity for some sort of brand confusion, then there’s a good chance you could get shut down, that they might not grant your trademark or if somehow you do go to market and an established company with lots of money sees potential for a confusion of their brand, you’re going to get a not so nice letter from their attorneys.

So this is something you definitely want to avoid. And I’m not the one who can give you advice and doing your own search on tests. It’s a good starting point. But we always say, use an attorney, use somebody who’s going to provide you with legal advice on this important matter. Ideally, you don’t want to bring the attorney in until you’ve at least done some of your own research and you’re closer to a final name because trademarks can run anywhere from 500 to 10 grand and up based on how deep of a vetting process you want to do, how expensive the attorney is, et cetera. Narrow it down to a list, do a little preliminary research, use an attorney.

And if you’re doing business internationally, you might want to think about the larger cultural context. If your name means something completely offensive in another language and you’re doing business in that country, now’s the time where you may even want to hire some outside experts. There’s people there who actually can help you with things like this, Mimi Consultants and so on. It’s really not our expertise here at C42D, but it’s definitely something you want to consider and overall, just make sure that what you come up with is going to fly and it’s not going to get shut down.

All right, so a final point, URLs as well can be a stumbling block. So, “Oh, I’ve got this great name, but the .com is just not available.” Folks, don’t let it sideline a great name. There are so many other ways to do it. These days, having the pure .com law is important. Not every company owns its It could be or goc42d or c42dbrands or whatever. There’s just, there are so many other ways. People don’t really care as much as they used to say 10 or even 15 years ago. So yes, it’s a consideration, but if you got a great name, man, if you don’t have the .com, don’t let it kill you.

All right, finalize and decide, our favorite step. Right? Right. Out of the final list, what means really resonates? Which ones do you remember most? Now, remember, memorability isn’t something you can quantify, but which ones what’s your gut instinct, which ones are sticking in your head? At this point, if you have access to a designer, maybe you could find one on Upwork or you’ve got a marketing staff, somebody can make some mock-ups. We like to do this when we’re presenting a new name to companies that we’ll show them like on a business card or maybe on what it could look like screen on the wall of your company or on a webpage or something. But some lo-fi visuals that can be down in 30, but just good enough to help you visualize or make it feel real like this can really help you, with your final decision.

In the end, again, I don’t think the community should vote on it. I really think this is the domain of the founder or the founding partners of any company. Take your time, be decisive, be courageous. Don’t climb a mountain without a rope but, muster the courage that you need, to make the final decision and go forth with it. And keep in mind, it’s just part of the system.

What are some of the pitfalls we want to avoid? Like we said, name them by committee, try to limit the decision-makers. Don’t alienate your colleagues. We don’t want this situation in the break room. This is the last thing we want and yes, this is the last horrible stock photo. Susan likes to say that naming by committee is a terrible idea. That usually leads to milk toast results. Oh God, mushy milk toast, who wants that for a name? You want your name to stand for something, not be the least objectionable name that everyone was willing to agree upon. “Oh, God. All right, well let’s go with this. This is the one that we can all live with.” Now, most of the time, it does not feel like love at first sight. Names are … they’re often a little bit uncomfortable in the beginning because they’re unfamiliar. As human beings, we find unfamiliar things can be uncomfortable. Just like riding a bike, it’s a little scary at first, but before you know it, you’re going to be sailing down the Avenue of productivity and profitability.

I hear this all the time. This is probably my biggest pet peeve with naming, I’ll know it when I see it. No, you won’t. You won’t know when you see it. You’re going to know that, hey, this name feels a little uncomfortable and I’m not totally sure about it. Again, evaluate it against what it needs to do. Is it distinctive? Does it fulfill some of this strategy that you’re trying to do? Is it different from your competition? These are the things that will be the right name. Not rushing through the process. Naming a fortune 500 company or renaming that can be a six month to a year process. And a lot of you probably are not fortune 500 companies and I don’t think it needs to take that long, but I also don’t think you should try to do it in two weeks as some, potential clients have asked us to do. Give it the time. You’re going to need that trying-on process where you’re going to want to know, how does this feel? Is this an outfit that I can rock? Give it the time that it deserves.

We like to work with startups at C42D and we’re going to hone in on a few pitfalls that are privy to this specific category. So number one is trying not to follow trends. We’re going to put out an article about this in another week or two I think. And the LY category is one that is really jumped the shark. to the end of everything is something that we see all the time. These are trends that may have been distinctive at one point and now it just seems like everybody and their sister are doing it vaguely with the double cliche there. Yeah, that’s a real company. Does your name really connect to your target audience? No comment on C42D which probably means nothing to my target audience.

The other point you want to make is that, does your company consist of a lot of engineers? This is something that’s really important. If you’re trying to put something out to a mass consumer audience, make sure that it’s speaking to them. It’s relatable to the average person, not just your internal team of Stanford MBA grads. Get that outside feedback. Super important. Startups evolve, so don’t come up with a name that will not stretch as your brand grows. You want something that’s open. You want something that’s elastic. It’s not going to confine you a few years down the road. Don’t have to look any further than Adobe Photoshop. Here’s their first, eight-bit logo or is this a one-bit logo? I don’t know. But Photoshop started as photo editing and then they evolved into things as robust as actually building entire websites, but they’re still Photoshop. Is that a product for just photos anymore? I don’t think so.

As tempting as it is, don’t brainstorm over a few beers and expect awesome results. Our friends at Pied Piper did that and we know how that turned out. You want to be open enough that you have a lot of different associations. You want to branch out, you want to think about all the different things that can be and I don’t think three or four Guinnesses at the pub are going to put you in that mindset. We can touch upon a few resources here. You should never go it alone.

Susan Manning, as I mentioned, contributed greatly to our thinking on this matter. She’s a naming expert. She’s come up with wonderful names like True Blue, the Jet Blue reward system and Carta, which is a startup that was recently valued I think at $1 billion. So she’s a unicorn namer, you can find her at

Lisa Merriam is another naming expert, brand strategy expert and her book is incredible. If you want to go deeper into anything we covered today, there’s a ton of information in this book, tons of resources, and just a fantastic guide to naming. Go to our blog, in addition to other great resources, we have an article that talks about the US PTO system and how you can do a quick check to see if your name is going to be kosher.

We also have a few websites down here like, and which is great for getting to the origins of some names. So where the English or Anglo-Saxon roots or Latin meanings of any type of word, and when it gets to the free association part, all these resources are great. Word Hippo, all I can say is go to a type in a word and see what happens. All kinds of ways to derivate, iterate and come up with other great stuff., take your word and turn it into another language and there’s just about every language on the planet there. If you want to know what it is in Icelandic, hey man, check it out is fantastic., similar to Word Hippo, another free association tool. Check them all out. These are all great resources for that brainstorming phase.

And that is for 39 minutes so far, doing well on time. Now we’re going to sum it all up. Let’s do a quick recap. What does it all boil down to? Number one, naming is only one part of an entire brand system. It’s important, but it’s not the make or break decision. All the other components of your marketing value proposition positioning are also contributing factors. You are the folk wisdom, great names are unusual, they’re distinctive, they’re meaningful and vivid so just don’t go with the quick Google answers. Use archetypes to explore various creative routes. Try to avoid, trends at all costs. Start with a brief, brainstorm a big list. Try your first round for size to see how it feels, see which ones you can narrow it down to, evaluate against the criteria, not by voting subjective feelings.

Get feedback from outside the company. Huge piece right here. See what other people say. “Hey, what pops into your head when you see C42D?” “Oh yeah, I think it’s R2D2 or something.” “Oh yeah. Thanks. Great. I think I’ll name my company something else.” Cut it down to a shortlist and make sure it passes the trademark search. Make sure there’s no other cultural baggage if you’re doing business internationally. Muster your courage, make your final decision. So if I could sum it up, I would say, follow a process, write a brief, look beyond the ordinary, customers, trump your own preferences. And remember it’s just part of an overall system. It’s just a name. Right?

All right, we’re going to get to your Q&A in a second. But first, let’s talk about what’s coming up next. Marketing predictions for 2020. This is the second year I’m doing this. I’m going to review all my horrible predictions from last year and see where I was on target and where I totally missed the boat. I’s happening on February 4th, 2020, we’ll have a signup link on C42D blog, by the end of the week, probably by the end of the day. Join us and see what are some of the trends to be on the lookout for marketing in the coming year. Just a note in case you missed anything as people have been asking, will the copy of this webinar along with a transcript be up on by the end of the week. Also lots of great content on our blog. So check it out at For more thought leadership, our subway startup series and of course, more great webinars like this.

So let’s get into our questions and answers. So, Carrie, you’ve been typing away as we’ve gone along. Let me see what we’ve got. Signs of a great name, these are really or’s, correct, not and’s maybe great name does a few of these. Yeah, so that’s a great point. So yeah, if you can remember that first slide we had about what does a great name do, I don’t think you’re going to find one that does all of these. I do think that good names hopefully you know they fire off on one or two of them. I would make a similar point about the naming archetypes. Some of them are fulfilling one or two at the same time. If you remember Andressen Horowitz had the founders’ name and they also abbreviate with the a16z as in the initials. Some names can be vivid and they can also be a combination of words, Kindbody falls into that category. So yeah. They are or’s, they’re not and’s and ideally you’ve got something that’s going to fulfill at least some of those qualities.

Scott asks, can you show the slides after the presentation? Absolutely. Let me see what else. Carrie says I met someone who named her company A-E-D-I-F-I-C-A-V-I E. Aedificavi. All right. Let’s see. What does that violate? Everything. Yeah, that one’s almost as bad as C42D. Carrie, thanks for all the feedback. Comments about the types of letter sounds to include including hard consonants. So, yeah, one of my friends who’s a strategist who helps me brainstorm names. He’s a real expert on that kind of stuff. He gets really big into how names sound. He’s a big one on the K sounds like K. What else is he? T like, I think he calls it like the glottal stops or something like that.

There’s other research out there, I’m sure. I’m not the advisor on that, but I’m sure some naming experts like Susan Manning or Lisa Merriam who wrote the book could definitely advise on things like that. Let me see what else we have. Blair says, are you ready to change the name of C42D? Yeah, believe me, knowing what I now know now, I’d probably never named my company C42D but at this point, I built up billions of dollars in brand equity. So it would be kind of foolhardy to change my name. It’s not totally off the table, but I would say I’ve violated the “brainstorm over a few beers” rule at 3:00 in the morning with that name. But hey, I’ve got, and I don’t need any clever hacks on the domain name.

Let me see what else. Amy asks I wasn’t clear. Do I cut the list down once or twice? When do I do the trademark search? Ideally, you’re going to narrow your list down, you’re going to get some feedback, you’re going to try it on. I think you want to narrow it down at least once or twice. And again, I’ve outlined a six-step process. It might not be linear. You may find yourself narrowing down, backing up to brainstorming. You may find something on your brainstorm list that, oh my God, that one’s just so awesome. Well, let me jump on the trademark search, right?

So again, I think you don’t have to follow it step by step. But try it on, see if anything new pops up. Do another round in narrowing, get some more feedback. Make sure you do a trademark search at some point, make your big decision, bam, done. But we’re going to post this webinar so you’ll have the whole process outlined. And again, we’re going to also put out an article that outlines our process for naming as well as the naming trends. Lots of reference materials, I encourage you to use all the resources you can on this.

Chris asked, did I say quantal stops? And I think it was a glottal, G-L-O-T-T-A-L I think. Again, I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I think those are words that are like the K sound, the T sound, G sound. I am not an expert at all in any of this. I’m probably embarrassing myself. So I’m going to pull the ripcord.

We’re out of questions unless you guys have anything more. But, again, I thank you all for joining and spending a part of your day with us. We’re going to repost this content again and thanks. I had a lot of fun with this and I hope you enjoyed it as well. You’re all going to do great. Thank you very much. Thanks.




Transcript: 2020 Marketing Predictions

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