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Why did you pick that name?

turnerj profile image James Turner ・1 min read

I'm currently on a quest to re-name a product I've been working on a long time (the fun of dealing with international trademarks). I've read many articles about what makes a good name, why naming is important and how to get ideas for a name. I've seen many interesting and useful tools too.

While I have found notes here or there about specific examples of how Company A came up with a name, I'd like to here from the community here about there experiences coming up with a name for what they are working on.

Was it something that came to you one day? An idea that you had played around with for a while? A derivative of something else? A random word? Is there a hidden meaning behind what you chose?

Why did you pick that name?

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govendor profile image
go-vendor

Fellow Aussie here. New to dev, and in the same boat about to start my own business.

A bit late to this thread, but I am playing with the idea of getting a trademark, and was wondering if you have done it. If yes, was it a simple process, did you go DIY path or hired a professional?

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turnerj profile image
James Turner Author

Yep, I did follow through from this post and get a trademark filed for my new product (well, currently filed in Australia pending final approval). It has been a long (and somewhat expensive) process to find out whether I am going to hit issues with certain names internationally as I did talk to a lawyer from the beginning of this process.

I want to avoid giving any legal advice because I am definitely not a lawyer. What I can say though is do as much research as you can regarding the name you're looking at.

  • Is anyone using that name currently from a Google search?
  • Are relevant domains available for your name? (easier if you only want ".com.au" and not a ".com" as you can have some "right" to the domain)
  • Has anyone filed a trademark for the name already in the countries you potentially want to trade? (There are a bunch of sites for searching trademarks in Australia, the US, the EU etc)

Once you have these questions answered, I'd personally talk to a lawyer about it as they have a lot of useful feedback like whether the name is a trademarkable word or phrase or what class your name is for. If you don't know yet, trademark classes are another whole bunch of fun, categorising what type of business the name is for. As far as I understand though, you can actually file a trademark manually (in Australia at least) without a lawyer's help but unless you are sure you know what you're doing, I wouldn't do it.

One thing I will state is I operated my business "Turner Software" for over 9 years without a trademark in Australia. It is however a registered business name against ASIC which, depending on your requirements, may be enough. I've only started approaching the whole trademark issue (and not even for "Turner Software") because I am wanting to offer my product internationally.

Hope that helps!

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govendor profile image
go-vendor

Thanks for the pointers. I am planing to trademark in Australia and US, and as you said, looks like it's worth getting an attorney's help (any recommendations? ofcourse if it permitted to post it here).

In the mean time I am curious, did you need to launch first in order to establish that you are already using the tm, or you were advised that its okay to file the application first and then launch(for both - international and here in Australia)?

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turnerj profile image
James Turner Author

Like my original article covers to some extent, I had launched basic marketing under one name only to find out later that it was trademarked in Germany. At that stage though, my product wasn't (and still isn't) launched.

As far as I understand from a trademark perspective, it doesn't matter launching before or after. That said, if you launch first then find out later you can't have the name, you may need to walk any branding etc back.

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Joe Hobot

I do pick domains for startups for bit over decade now, and common issue that most face is either domain name is taken or creativity. Some people that are in domaining business might be good at it but they are not 'creative' enough.

I usually give a client or domain searcher story about....

A person walks into party that he knows only the host, he starts talking about his hobby and his new app. Everyone loves it..
he says: hey Guest1, so go to yxq website.
Guest1: was it yxq or xqy ?
Guest1: How do you spell that?

If questions like that ever come up in conversation, you might have a wrong name, or just try to make it more obvious.

Those are fractions of details entrepreneurs need to prepare their 'startup' name for.

To answer your questions:

I don't go for stories of how some domain became popular, zappos has no meaning ,etsy is easy to mistype, yet they are popular because most of their traffic come from 'clicks' and because they sound cool.

The new modern domains are something around 5-8 characters that just rolls off good and might have something to do with the product or service.

I would avoid startups or names that are full fledged keywords, (keyword generators gave your startup a name).

Think of funny things what if my CompanyA would crash with CompanyB what would come out of that?

I could go more into details but, feel free to ask questions if you have.

My research usually comes from experience and knowing who my end user is. Not necessarily the service or product I provide.

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turnerj profile image
James Turner Author

Yeah, those are definitely some good tips. If many people misspell a name, it might not be a good name.

My name ideas are bouncing around from mashups of words (related and not), interesting sounding names from other things (rivers, movie characters), words or phrases in other languages or even just entirely random combinations of letters. Got to be careful that the resulting name doesn't have a hidden meaning or is offensive in another language too!

One of the things I try to remind myself is that how many names really only seem like they work now that they are popular. I mean, Google, I get where the name comes from but I wouldn't have thought it was a good name.

I wonder if this is why law firms often use the "named partners" to form the business name - too hard to come up with something unique each time.

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Quentin Sonrel

I'm usually quite uninspired when I name my projects, in no particular order there is/was:

  • "Tasky" for a todo list software in Python
  • "Tomate" (french for tomato) for a Pomodoro timer app
  • "c3status" for a i3bar status line generator written in C (inspired by py3status, written in Python)
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thomasjunkos profile image
Thomas Junkツ

The other day our team had to come up with the name for a new library and we discussed 4 proposals and ended up taking the first letter of each proposal and retrofitted the name onto the solution 😁

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turnerj profile image
James Turner Author

Cool! Mind sharing a bit of background about the 4 proposals? Were these just random names themselves? Did they have some connection to the library or maybe some inside joke?

And of course, what was the final name that was assembled from the 4 proposals?

(I understand if you can't share details if it is proprietary or not yet launched etc)

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thomasjunkos profile image
Thomas Junkツ

The delicate part is: Although I work in FOSS and our company runs on 100% open source, some parts of software we develop can not be opened or made somehow public - but most things are.

In this case it is about a project funded by the European Social Fund, where we were a subcontractor down the chain. The parts belonging the ESF are made open source but some other parts belonging our contractor, I am not able to talk about.

Only that the library's name has EU in it. Which makes of course sense. 😊

The 4 proposals were for themselves fully qualified product names. But most of them rather clumsy and hard to remember. We came up with a much shorter one.

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

Obligatory plug for

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turnerj profile image
James Turner Author

That's not a half bad idea! Maybe not even just the name as it could also have a little history behind the project.

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Daniel Starner

My team names all of our projects after Jewish desserts. I don't really know how it got started, but I appreciate that it happens 😂

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turnerj profile image
James Turner Author

Ohhhh, that is interesting!

Random question: Does your favourite of those desserts line up with your favourite of those projects? :P