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How to Name a Web 2.0 Product or Company

I asked the designers of a popular new product how they came up with their product name, and they said the reason they picked it was because it was 5 letters, sounded cool, and their girlfriends could remember it the next day.

But seriously, I have been pondering product names a lot lately. In doing so I’ve determined that their are a variety of ways to come up with names. I can’t decide if made up names have a better chance than word combos, or if it is smart to be descriptive with the name to communicate what the product does.

Generic Names — Books.com, Business.com, Search.com, and even traditional products like Word.

Blending Words — Adregate, Chatsum

Two Words — Hey Amigo, Basecamp, Blinksale, Wallnote, Eyespot, YouTube, Feed Burner, Fruitcast, Bloglines, Campfire, Backpack

Invented — Wufoo, Qunu, Zeedex, Itzle, Zimbio, Fluxiom, Jacuba

Single Word — Pickle.com, Flock

Unique Spelling — MajikWidget, del.icio.us, ma.gnolia

Add a Neat Ending — Shopify, Squidoo, Writely, Sproutit, Flickr, Technorati, Isolatr, Zoomr

Include a Number — 9rules, 37signals, Forty Media, 30 Second Rule, 30 Boxes

Descriptive Names — BackupMyBlog, BlogBurst, Meet With Approval, Measure Map, Writeboard, CalendarHub

Above all else, find something that’s available in a good domain name.

What do you think makes a successful product name?

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  1. Nice little round-up on how to possibly think of a name. I’ve been having real trouble thinking of one for a little thing I’m developing.

    The other trouble is of course finding a cool name and then finding the domain is taken!

    I’ll have to keep thinking! I like the idea of seeing if someone can remember it the next day.

  2. It shouldn’t be too trendy, because trends come and go so quickly these days, and your “phat” domain name could become completely out of fashion and be totally forgotten within a year. Regardless of how cool the name is, it’s as much about the marketing as it is about the name. Even a site like boring.com (which actually exists and belongs to the unfortunately named Boring Business Systems) can be exciting and draw attention of marketing creates the proper buzz around it.

  3. I’m thinking a nice to somehow have a list of neat endings.

    Like how Wufoo has ‘foo,’ and things like that. I find I just sit at the computer with Ajaxwhois.com opened up and I type in possible names to check the availability. It’s frustrating.

  4. Some people think that the non-availability of a domain name shouldn’t deter you from picking a name – you mentioned Basecamp, Backpack and Campfire (all 37signals apps), and none of them has the .com domain – instead they use basecamphq.com, backpackit.com and campfirenow.com – Google is the new location bar anyway, and people will find it as long as they can remember it.