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On naming software…

Blog: All Things Workflow

As mentioned in previous posts, we’re going through a process of launching a new product specifically designed for SMEs – which has gotten me thinking a lot about naming.  Many of our clients white-label Kontinuum – they develop workflow solutions within the Kontinuum engine, and give the configured solution their own branding which they then use within their organisations, or when re-selling the solution to their clients.  Sometimes, these names are brilliant – concise, catchy, and explain the app well.  So while I’m thinking about it, here are some things we consider when coming up with names for products:

1. Keep it simple – short, easy to remember, and easy to spell

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” – Albert Einstein

2. Make sure your name is unique – particularly in your industry (for all concepts), or across the board for all software.  This will help you to differentiate your offering without confusing the market or redirecting your users elsewhere.  This will also have the benefit of meaning you don’t have to compete with other companies or products for getting to page 1 on search engines, if you’re looking to re-sell your software

3. For the same reason, don’t name your product something too generic like a dictionary word – chances are you’ll need to add additional words (and therefore break rule 1) to explain what you do.  You’re also likely to end up low on any search ranking, at least for a while (notable exception – Amazon)

4. If possible, use the Meg Whitman rule and come up with a name that might be used as a verb (as in, “I’m going to google this”, “Can you xerox this for me”, etc)

“When people use your brand name as a verb, that is remarkable” – Meg Whitman

5. If you can’t get the .com; choose another name.  It’s just going to be too hard for users to find your site.

6. Don’t name your product something too specific that you may need to to change as your product evolves or pivots (Roses Only is a great brand, but I wonder how many of their gift baskets and fruit baskets they sell?  The name would detract anyone looking for those products, as you would assume they don’t sell them)

I’m wondering if anyone has any notable examples of, or exceptions to, the above rules – or any more to add.  Please comment if you do!

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