The ultimate guide to naming your “thing.”
Hooray! You’ve got an AMAZING idea for a “thing.”
A book. A product. A service. A performance. An experience. A tool.
It’s all fleshed out in your mind. Or maybe it’s already done!
There’s just one thing holding you back:
It doesn’t have a “name” yet.
Let’s fix that.
Here’s my 10-question process for generating names for all kinds of projects, products, books, systems and services… with lots of real-life examples from my own projects plus other businesses and brands that I love.
I hope these questions help you to brainstorm the perfect name for your new baby.
And if you still feel stumped, after all of these, I have one last tidbit of advice for you at the very end of this piece. Enjoy!
. . .
To generate a great name for your new “thing,” ask yourself…
1. WHAT IS IT?
We often forget to ask ourselves this basic question — what IS this “thing,” anyway?
Going with a simple, direct, no-mystery-here name can be a powerful choice.
: Your Big Beautiful Book Plan (Danielle LaPorte and Linda Sivertsen). It’s (literally) a big beautiful plan to help you write your next book.
: Tarot Business In A Box (Theresa Reed). It’s (literally) everything you need to set up your tarot business, wrapped up in a (digital) box.
: Curvy Yoga (Anna Guest-Jelley). It’s (literally) a style of yoga for people with curvier bodies.
: 50 Proven Email Scripts (Ramit Sethi). It’s (literally) 50 email scripts that are proven to be effective.
: 50 Ways To Say You’re Awesome (me!). It’s (literally) 50 different ways to tell someone, “you’re awesome.”
: Orgasmic Meditation (from OneTaste). It’s (literally) a form of meditation to help women experience orgasms.
2. WHAT DOES IT HELP YOU TO DO?
Another “oh, duh!” question that we often forget to ask ourselves.
What’s the benefit, outcome, promise, reward or point of this “thing?”
: Websites Made Easy (Nathalie Lussier). It makes designing a website … easy.
: Become Your Own Business Adviser (Hiro Boga). It’s a program that helps you become your own business adviser.
: Creating Fame (Laura Roeder). It’s a program that helps you create fame, credibility and visibility for your work.
: Good To Great (Jim Collins). It’s a book that’s devoted to helping you move from being “good” at what you do to being “great.”
: The Reformer (Pilates equipment). It’s a machine that helps to “reform” your body during Pilates classes.
: How To Win Friends & Influence People (Dale Carnegie). Gee, what will this book help me to do? Oh right. THAT.
3. WHAT’S THE DEEPER, SPIRITUAL EFFECT?
Some “things” have a surface-level effect, as well as a deeper effect.
The name of your “thing” might speak to that deeper reward, rather than just the top-level benefit.
: The Deepening (Catherine Just). On the surface, it’s a course about how to take beautiful photos. But really, it’s about deepening your relationship with God. (However you define God.)
: Eyes Open (Annika Martins). On the surface, it’s about creating a daily meditation practice. But really, it’s about moving through life, fully awake.
: Taking Flight (Kelly Rae Roberts). On the surface, it’s about learning tips and techniques to get your creative business off the ground. But really, it’s about moving through doubts and fears, and letting your spirit take flight.
: The Shrink Sessions (Erin Stutland). On the surface, it’s about gettin’ your sweat on with a challenging workout. But really, it’s about “shrinking” the negative, self-defeating thoughts in your mind (not just “shrinking” your waistline).
4. WHERE IS IT?
Yet another “duh!” question that we often forget to ask.
Sometimes, the name of your “thing” is simply … the location.
: The Carmel Writing Retreats (Linda Sivertsen). Based in Carmel, California. Enough said.
: Writers In Paradise (Eckerd College Writers’ Conference). To the tropics, we fly!
: Weekend In The Woods. A writing and yoga retreat in the woods near Providence, Rhode Island.
: BIG: Kansas City. A business conference about big ideas, based in Kansas City.
5. WHO IS IT FOR?
Or is there a name, title or identity that they aspire to have one day?
Bake it right into the name of your “thing.”
: Bombshell Coaching (Ellie Scarborough Brett). For women who want to channel their inner “bombshell,” especially when they’re appearing in the media.
: The Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop (Rachel Cole). For women who want to find their own answer to the question, “What are you truly hungry for?”
: Surf Goddess Retreats (travel company). For women who aspire to be … surf goddesses!
: The Playboy Club (bar and casino). For gentlemen who aspire to be … playboys, presumably!
: MommyJuice (wine company). For mommies who need some “special juice.”
6. WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE?
What’s the feeling that this “thing” gives people as they’re reading, watching, or experiencing it?
Does it feel like a hug? Like a kick in the butt? Like a bracing cup of tea? Or a blazing fire?
: Chicken Soup for the Soul (Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen). Reading these books feels comforting, soothing … like a bowl of chicken soup poured directly onto your soul.
: Southern Comfort (the booze). Drinking this, apparently, makes you feel like you’re reclining on a cozy porch swing, way down south.
: The Golden Ticket (Michelle Ward and Tanya Geisler). Attending this career-building event makes you feel like you’ve found the golden ticket: getting paid to do what you love.
: The Snuggie. It feels like being … all snuggled up in a lazy pile of goodness.
7. IS THERE A COMMON “TURN OF PHRASE” OR “IDIOM” THAT SUMS IT ALL UP?
Idioms are commonly-used turns of phrases. (Think: “Good things come to those who wait.” Or “A chip on your shoulder.” Or “It’s a blessing in disguise.”)
Try using an idiom as the name of your “thing,” which instantly makes it feel clever and easy to remember.
: A Thousand Times, YES! (Melissa Cassera). A digital class to help you create products and services that will have your customers screaming, “a thousand times, yes!”
: Spic and Span (cleaning products). Cleaning products that will keep your home “spic and span.”
: A Matter Of Fact (employment background check services). They’ll check … the facts!
: Blue Moon (beer company). Beer with quality and flavor so good, it only comes around “once in a blue moon.”
8. OR, HOW ABOUT A PUN?
Some people hate puns. I am not one of those people. I LOVE THEM.
No explanation required for these examples:
: Pho Shizzle (Vietnamese restaurant)
: Lord of the Fries (burger joint)
: A Good Man-darin is Hard to Find (OPI orange nail polish color)
: The Merchant of Tennis (tennis and athletic supply store)
: Donut Stop Believing (a donut shop that I intend to start ONE DAY!!!)
9. WHAT’S THE BIG MESSAGE?
At the end of the day, what’s it all about? What’s the “message” or “reminder” that this “thing” is here to share with the world?
: Life Is Delicious (Susan Hyatt). A coaching program (now a TV show). The message? Life is precious and delicious — even when it’s messy.
: Playing Big (Tara Mohr). A program and online community. The message? It’s time to share your gifts with the world, instead of hiding in the shadows.
: Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff (Richard Carlson). The bestselling book. The message? Um … don’t sweat the small stuff.
: Volkswagen (the car company). It’s German for “the peoples’ car.” The message? Safe, beautifully designed cars should be for everyone, not just a select few.
10. HOW ABOUT [YOUR BUSINESS NAME] + [A DESCRIPTIVE WORD]?
The laziest — and sometimes, the best! — option of all!
Your business name (or any word) plus one of these descriptions:
: Starter Kit
: RockCamp (a rock ‘n roll camp for grown-ups, based in Las Vegas)
: When I Grow Up Coaching (Michelle Ward)
: The Good Life Project (Jonathan Fields)
: The CLEAN Program (a juice cleanse)
There you have it!
The ultimate guide (or at least, MY ultimate guide) to naming your “thing.”
One last piece of advice:
If you are trying and trying and trying to come up with the PERFECT NAME for your thing — and you’re feeling stuck and frustrated — and you’re really getting nowhere, the best thing to do is to step away from your desk for awhile. Give your brain a chance to un-clench.
I always get my best ideas when I’m taking a shower, taking a walk, in the middle of yoga class, on an airplane or cruising in my car. (Rarely while staring at a blank document and grimacing at my computer screen.)
Give yourself some breathing room. THAT’S usually when the perfect name will arrive.
Need even more naming inspiration?
Here are a few of my favorite word-nerd websites to peruse …
The Free Idiom Dictionary (to find common phrases and sayings)
The Online Etymology Dictionary (to research the origins and history of words)
RhymeZone (to find rhymes!)
Punrise, Punset (puns for everyone!)
Wordroid (generate “made-up” words that look cool and make people go, “what’s that?”)
Portmanteaur (combine two or more words into a portmanteau, like “bromance” or “chillax.”)