How to name things

March 31, 2010 at 10:17 am | Posted in copywriting | 12 Comments
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Some names stand alone. Others need a little help.

When naming a company, course or other corporate thing, there’s a risk your choice may be a little ‘dry’.

You don’t want to put your audience to sleep.

On the other hand, you can’t be so ‘way out’ that you damage your brand.

A good solution is to have a creative title with a ‘sensible’ subtitle (or vice versa).

This two-pronged approach usually satisfies most audience members.

I used it this morning, with an article on leadership.

My title, Learning Leadership, was dry but functional.

My subtitle, How to Get Support from Above, Around & Below, added meaning and context and was a bit more ‘with it’.

When trying to come up with name options, the blank page can be very daunting. So I use what I call the ‘shotgun’ approach.

I define this in the intro I write for lists of names I prepare for clients:

This list comprises a broad spectrum of serious suggestions, potential thought starters and light-hearted ideas. By casting the net as wide as possible, I hope to either catch a winning idea or produce one in the mind of another.

Recombine components for more permutations. If you can’t decide between several suitable names, run them past a trusted group of people from the audience/s you wish to reach. Their feedback should guide you to a single choice.

This approach can take a while, but it invariably produces an ideal result.

If you’re stuck for a name, think of mine! 🙂

Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.


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  1. Hi Paul,

    Really like these 2 suggestions Paul and I must say coming up with names that do have creative flair and are memorable is tough. Finding this at the moment and it especially for those of us who are not naturally creative like you.

    • Thank you, Susan, both for your kind comment and for inspiring this post!

      The good thing about a shotgun is that, even if you’ve never fired one, you’re bound to hit SOMEthing significant.

      Good luck in your quest. I really appreciate you stopping by. 🙂

  2. I love this: If you’re stuck for a name, think of mine!

    Kudos! This is why I always enjoy reading what you write and the overall theme of your blog(s).

    This blog post is another perfect example of a gut-wrenching process – trying to arrive at the perfect name / title, presented in logical process steps, and then when you least expect it, a profound and uniquely clever, multi-dimensional, non-promoting promotion line of:

    If you’re stuck for a name, think of mine.



    • Thanks heaps, Cheryl. What a lovely way to round off my day! I’m glad you liked the post and even gladder you saw fit to say so. Best regards, P. 🙂

  3. Even Tara Moss (who I blocked due to her Misandry) said Mind Orgasms was the best handle on Twitter.

    (And it was an original creation of mine years ago. It’s been copied over-and-over)

    The only difference between me and blokes like you? I don’t get paid.

    When it comes to brainstorming/clustering? There’s no-one better (not in the business) than me.

    And if people don’t like the fact that I know I’m more creative than them? Bad luck.

    Humility is rooted in the truth.

    • Many thanks for that. (May I call you va for short? 😉 ) I had to look up ‘misandry’, so I’m already wiser for your comment. I think it’d be a brave corporate client who concurred with Tara, but I welcome all views that are kind or clever or both. Best regards, P. 🙂

  4. Nice. I agree. If inspiration doesn’t strike immediately, naming can be tough. I have a system I fall back on. Here’s a screencast tutorial on it: ‘How to come up with a great domain name – even if you’re creatively challenged!’

    • Thanks heaps, Glenn. That means a lot, coming from you. I really dug your Vimeo video. By chance, I once had to name a real gardening business for two young blokes who loved a beer and wanted to tidy people’s home gardens. When I came up with ‘Yard Arms’ they loved it to bits. Kind regards and thanks again for visiting, P. 🙂

      • Yard Arms. Love it! You da man!

        • You’re very kind, Mate. Thank you! 🙂

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