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[Podcast] Brand Naming: How to Create Great Brand Names with Alexandra Watkins

[Podcast] Brand Naming: How to Create Great Brand Names with Alexandra Watkins

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In this episode, Alexandra Watkins, a renowned naming expert and author of ‘Hello, My Name Is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick,’ shares her insights .

Alexandra emphasizes that anyone can create memorable brand names with the right approach.

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She discusses the emotional impact of names, the pitfalls of overly descriptive ones, and the importance of testing using the SMILE & SCRATCH method which outlines key brand naming principles.

Alexandra also delves into challenges like trademark availability, domain names and the future of brand naming in the age of AI.

Tune in for practical tips on how to create brand names that stick!

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Transcript (Auto-Generated)

Hello, and welcome to JUST Branding, the only podcast dedicated to helping designers and entrepreneurs grow brands. Here are your hosts, Jacob Cass and Matt Davies.

Hello, fellow brand builders. We interrupt your regular programming for a very special announcement. From August 27th to 30th, join us for the Brand Builders Summit, a transformative four-day free virtual event designed just for you.

Whether you’re a creative business owner, designer, strategist, marketing professional or entrepreneur, this summit will help you become an extraordinary brand builder. There’s going to be live Q&As, workshops, expert panels, networking opportunities, and thousands of dollars in bonuses and prizes. With 28 speakers, including industry experts, this is your chance to elevate your branding game.

Join the waitlist now at brandbuildersummit.com to secure your free spot. That’s brandbuildersummit.com. Now back to the show.

Hello and welcome to JUST Branding. Today we have Alexandra Watkins with us. Alexandra is a naming expert and the author of the book, Hello, My Name Is Awesome, How to Create Brand Names That Stick.

We’re going to jump right into that. So hello and welcome to the show, Alexandra.

Nice to be here. And Matt.

And Matt.

Yeah, Matt’s here.

Don’t forget me.

We’re going to jump straight into it. But first, I would love to hear your story. How did you come to become a naming expert and write a book about it?

Well, I started my career as an advertising copywriter, and I worked for big agencies like Ogilvy. And every once in a while, I would get thrown a bone and get to name something. And I love naming and I was really good at it.

So, but I had no idea that naming was actually a profession. So I was a copywriter for 16 years. And then when I found out that, like, oh, wait a minute, naming is like a bona fide career.

So I switched gears and I just decided I’m going to be a professional namer and naming, as you know, naming is part of branding and branding and advertising never intersect. So I basically had to start over that make all new contacts in the world of branding. And so I quickly realized I started freelancing for all of these big naming firms, branding firms, and I quickly realized that no one was doing conceptual style of brand names.

They were all like based on linguistics and I knew nothing about linguistics. I only knew about how to concept and make a great ad headline. So that is the style of names that I started doing.

And that’s how I pardon the pun, made a name for myself, just doing very clever conceptual names that when people see them, they get them. They often smile, that releases dopamine and I’m going to share a few. Yeah, yeah.

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Okay. So my claim to fame and people in the States will know this name is I named the Wendy’s Baconator, which is a bacon cheeseburger. It’s very famous.

It has its own Wikipedia page. It was recently the answer to a New York Times crossword. And it was also the answer on Jeopardy, which is a very popular game show we have.

So for intellectuals, to go from naming a bacon cheeseburger for truck drivers to like being on an intellectual game show. So yeah, the Baconator, I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of that. Another really fun name that I’ve done is a frozen yogurt franchise that I named Spoon Me.

I named a GPS for dogs retriever. And this is appropriate since your audience is global. I named a Spanish language school in Cali, Colombia, gringo lingo.

Genius.

Love it.

Well, we’re going to jump into how we actually create names and what makes good names on the mistakes. And I guess that leads us into the next point, unless you had more to share.

Oh, no, I’ll just say that I so after all of these, these firms were putting their good name on my great names, that’s when I was like, okay, I need to start my own firm. So that’s when I started Eat My Words. And we started out by naming things that make people fat and drunk, which is why we’re named Eat My Words.

And we still do a lot of that. And it’s by far the most fun thing that we do.

Amazing. All right. So your book, how did you come to write in that?

Did you see a gap in the market?

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No, I got really lucky. I have that like Hollywood starlet story where I didn’t, I wasn’t even thinking about writing a book and an intern at a publisher came across me on Meetup. I was doing a speaking engagement.

She went to my website, which is eatmywords.com by the way. And she’s like, wow, this is really fun. And she showed it to, you know, the publisher, you know, editors and they’re like, yeah, this is, and they sent me an email and it just said, thought about writing a book.

You know, your writing style is so fun and refreshing and it’s so different than business communication today. And we would love to publish a book or two by you. What do you think?

And I was like, yeah, thanks, but no thanks that I want to write a book. My parents are authors and I know it’s a lot of work, but I had a number of conversations with them and then decided, yeah, this is actually a good idea. I should do it.

And I’m so glad that I did.

Yeah.

Yeah, I love your website. I think it’s quite funny, like the headline on your website, when you first hit it says something like your name shouldn’t be like someone’s got drunk and played Scrabble or something like that. That’s so true, isn’t it?

And what an interesting way to sort of introduce yourself, you know, as a sort of a headline. And I guess that comes from your copywriting background, right?

To be able to write, yeah, and that’s that’s yeah, I’ve been really lucky because I know how to concept so I could do a clever headline like your name shouldn’t look like you got drunk and played Scrabble. But yeah, I’ve been I’ve been so fortunate to have that background.

Well, let’s dive in. What makes a great brand name in your opinion?

In my opinion, the strongest thing that your name can do is make somebody smile. When you make someone smile, it releases all of these positive neurotransmitters. Don’t worry, this is the geekiest I’m going to get.

Okay, we like geeky.

We’re fine.

We know that about this stuff. Let’s go.

Okay. When you make someone smile, it releases all of these positive neurotransmitters like endorphins, serotonin, and that makes people feel good. Right.

So if your name can make somebody feel good, if people love your name before they’ve even tried your product, you are golden. So here’s an example. We named a cupcake store, The Church of Cupcakes.

People love that name before they’ve even had the cupcakes. Right. And it’s super memorable.

Or here’s one. I just gave out these for anybody watching, watching instead of listening. I just gave out these heart shaped, they’re glass, art, hearts, trophies, and I gave them out to 10 food and beverage names at a big trade show I went to.

The 10 most love at first sight names of the show. And by far my favorite name and everybody else’s seemed to be gourmet frozen cookie dough and it’s named dopamine, but it’s spelled like dough, right?

Yeah. So people love names like that. Since the show, I’ve probably been on, this is the seventh podcast I’ve done since that show.

I talk about that name constantly. I must say it three times a day in conversations. So when you have a name like that, you’re golden, right?

So that is the strongest thing that your name can have is the ability to make an emotional connection. And if you can make someone smile, that’s just the best feeling.

I think that’s so smart, Alexandra, because like the other thing I think when you think about, so obviously we’re on, you’re on JUST Branding right now. And you know, we think about brands not just as the logo and the fonts, but you know, it’s a lot wider than that. It is about the meaning that people attach to you.

And just following on from what you’ve said there, I guess, you know, I don’t know the stats. I don’t know if you know the stats. But I wonder if a study has ever been done, which looks at when we come across a new brand, how many times do we hear it before we actually see it?

Right? I don’t know. Like that.

I mean, I don’t know if anyone could even do a study like that. But wouldn’t that be interesting that actually the logo itself that everyone fixates on, right, might even be the second or third thing that somebody comes across because potentially they would have heard of that name first through word of mouth or someone talking about the product or the service or whatever it is. So interesting, right?

Get the name right and everything else follows.

Yeah, exactly. An example that’s really interesting, you brought that up. So a lot of times people see something and they think they know how to pronounce it, or they might hear it one way.

Okay, they might hear it one way. So I kept hearing about this or I kept seeing this logo for this brand name Crycut, C-R-I-C-U-T. So that’s how I pronounce it, Crycut.

And it wasn’t until I got hired by the queen of Crycut to help name one of her services, she pronounced it Cricut. I’m like, oh my gosh, I was so embarrassed. I’m like, this whole time I’ve been pronouncing it wrong.

She’s like, oh, half the people pronounce it Cricut, half pronounce it Crycut. And what happens in that instance, it’s kind of like what you’re talking about. So you could be telling me about Cricut, Jacob, you could be telling me about Crycut.

I would have no idea you’re talking about the same thing because they sound completely different, right? So your brand name should only be pronounced one way.

Yeah, I love that. I don’t know if you’re familiar, in the UK there’s a car brand, right? Basically, the way that the majority of people in the UK were pronouncing it was not correct.

So they’ve had to do like a whole campaign to help us all say their name right. So in the UK, we’d often pronounce their name Hyundai, Hyundai, because that’s kind of how it’s pronounced. But actually, it’s Hyundai, right?

That’s how they pronounce it, Hyundai, it’s funny because here we say Hyundai.

There we are. So I probably said it wrong, even in my attempt to say it right. So the point is, though, that if you’ve got a name like that, like it is really confusing.

And then for me, like when I see a brand, then having to do education around its name rather than talking about its product and its service and its benefits, it’s clearly that there’s a strategic error gone on, at least at that level. But I guess for them, really tricky for them to then change because it’s a global brand now and it’s hard. But perhaps we’ll come on to naming and chopping and changing it a bit later on.

But yeah, interesting, fascinating.

Yeah, now that is really interesting. And yeah, they’re a huge company in Korea. But they came into the US and with the car, they first came into the US with the car.

And I mean, that was probably 40 years ago. And yeah, people are still, I think now with all the TV commercials people know, but so many times with these, yeah, we have the same thing with this company called Rakuten and nobody knows how to pronounce it. And so their TV ads are some man on the street asking people how they pronounce it.

And like, what a waste of time and money, right? So when you’re starting out with a blank slate, don’t give yourself any disadvantages because you don’t want to spend all the, anytime you’re having to explain to somebody, here’s how you pronounce it, here’s how you spell it. You’re essentially apologizing for it, right?

And that devalues your brand.

100%. Yeah.

So I had another question around what makes a great brand name. So the smile and the emotional connection, but let’s say you’re in the business and environment, and it may not be as suitable for that kind of scenario. What are the, some other traits that make a quality brand name?

So I have a 12 point name evaluation filter. It’s called the smile and scratch test. Smile is an acronym for the five qualities that make a name strong.

And scratch is an acronym for the seven deal breakers that make a name weak. And a lot of those are blind spots that people don’t see. So smile, and these are all the things, whether it’s a business to business name, you know, D to C, C to C.

The S stands for suggestive. You want your name to suggest a positive brand experience. I mean, more than not, you want your name to suggest something about what your brand is or does.

But if it’s candy, for instance, the name Twizzlers doesn’t suggest what the candy is licorice. However, it suggests it’s a fun name, right? It’s a positive brand experience.

So it suggests it’s going to be a fun experience eating the candy. So yeah, you want your name to be suggestive. Metaphorical names are great for suggestive names.

If you think of Amazon being a metaphor for, you know, something very, very large. The M in smile stands for memorable. And what makes something memorable is if it’s based in the familiar.

So here in the States and probably globally, there’s a bike lock company and it’s named Kryptonite. And we all know Kryptonite from Superman. So that’s based in the familiar, making it easier to remember.

And then of course, Kryptonite repels Superman, therefore Kryptonite locks repels bike thieves. So that’s a great analogy that the metaphorical name is making. So that makes it memorable versus something that’s just a brand new, very unfamiliar word or jumble of letters that looks like someone got drunk and played Scrabble name.

Those aren’t familiar and our brain wants something to latch on to. And if we have something that already exists in our knowledge base, that’s what’s going to make it easier to recall later on when we’re trying to, you might not need a bike lock right now, but three months from now, you might need one. And if you’re trying to remember that name, what’s going to help you recall it is if it already exists in your brain’s dusting filing cabinet, if it already exists in your knowledge base.

All right. So the I in smile stands for imagery, if your name lends itself to visual imagery, then it also makes it easier to recall later. So we named an energy drink for women.

We don’t just name food and beverage, by the way, but those are always the fun example. Everyone can relate to it. We named an energy drink for women.

It was an all natural energy drink. And it was like for the 4 p.m. hour when most women are chugging a Diet Coke like me. And it was all natural energy and it helped you like, you know, revive in the afternoon.

So we named it Bloom. And when you hear the name Bloom, you can picture a flower blooming or just a flower. So when you’re at the grocery store and you’re facing that wall of energy drinks and you’re trying again to recall it from your brain’s dusty filing cabinet in your hat, you know how we close our eyes trying to remember something?

That’s us going through our filing cabinet, right? But if you saw the name or you heard the name Bloom, you’re going to be able to recall it more easily because you will have already pictured something in your head. And then you’ll have that picture in your mind.

It reminds me of Gorilla Tape.

Yes, I love that name.

It’s a very strong name. Even the logo, it’s like very unusual. It literally features a big gorilla and such a strong name that ties in with the strength of the tape.

Yeah, I love that name. That’s a great example. I should use that.

Use that example.

You got something out of this.

The L stands for LEGS and LEGS is the hardest thing to do with the name unless you hire us because we’ll do it for you. But it’s the best thing to have and LEGS is when your name lends itself to a theme so you can extend your brand through wordplay. So an example is there’s a podcaster named Jason Sarkone and he read my book.

I had been on his podcast and then he said, I want to do another podcast. So he read my book and he came up with the name for his company, Bomb Track Media. Then he named his podcast, Let’s Blow This Up.

That’s such a great name, right? It plays into Bomb Track and then he calls his audience, The Bomb Squad and he calls his studio, The Bomb Shelter and he has packages like TNT and Dynamite. So you can see that’s a name with legs because you can extend it forever and ever.

So he talks about explosive growth. So that’s a name with legs and they’re endless. I mean, they’re just really fun to have and Eat My Words, my company name is one of those names as well.

We have a value menu, we have packages like Fun Size and The Whole Enchilada and Supermarket Special. If you’re watching this, you can see in my office, there’s the pink refrigerator that’s where I keep my books and a 1950s retro pink fridge.

I saw a flamingo floating around in the reflection as well.

Uh-oh, rival flamingo.

You can see it in the reflection. Yes. For anyone wants to see, on Instagram, go to San Diego Bitchin Backyard.

Bitchin, just like it sounds, no G. Yeah, you can see we have a Bitchin Backyard. Yeah, there’s two other flamingos that will be in there soon.

And we have a cheeky bar, surfboard fence with 26 surfboards and a bunch of skeletons. We have just a very, very fun and playful backyard.

Yeah, the theme that you’re talking about, like the legs, it’s, you know, we’re talking about flamingos now, they have legs. But as a theme, like, you know, flamingos, if your office could be a sanctuary, for example, or-

Yeah, oh, the flock. Yeah, no, I’ve used the flamingos a lot. But yeah, flock party, yeah, there’s so much you can do.

All right, cool. So legs or like a theme that kind of ties everything together. Then you have E, which is-

Yeah, the E is, it goes back to a name that makes people smile. If you can have a name that makes a strong emotional connection, and it doesn’t have to be that you make somebody smile, but maybe it’s like Gorilla Glue. Like you said, it’s a strong image, right?

And like, it’s a cool name when we see it, we like it, like we get it. So when you have a brand, and you guys know this, that resonates with somebody, that’s when you’re connecting with them. And that’s what people will remember.

All right.

So we’ve done the full smile, if that’s right. And then you had another framework for deal breakers, scratch.

So that’s scratch. So if it makes someone scratch their head, or if it will make someone scratch their head, scratch it off the list. So the S stands for spelling challenge.

You want your name to be spelled exactly how it sounds. And your name shouldn’t look like a typo. It’s just that simple.

And a lot of people have, you know, they’re so desperate to find an available domain name that they’ll spell their brand name wrong. And it’s kind of being penny wise and pound foolish. Like, we’ve all done this, we’ve emailed somebody, their email gets bounced back because we spelled the name of their company wrong.

Or we’re trying to find it online. We can’t because it’s not spelled the way it sounds. So your name shouldn’t, like I said, it shouldn’t look like a typo.

Don’t drive proofreaders, bat shit crazy. The first C in Scratch stands for copycat. Nobody likes the copycat.

Why be somebody else when you can be yourself?

I was going to ask you about that actually. Because one thing that I guess is tricky is kind of coming up with unique things in particular marketplaces and space. How can somebody be sure that they’re not being a copycat?

Say they come up with a great name. What sort of checks do you recommend or suggest or how do you think people should attack that question? How would they know?

First of all, do your trademark research. Have a reputable trademark attorney do your research for you. If you’re in the States, you can start off on USPTO.gov.

They recently updated their whole system and it’s so much easier to use now. It is no longer like a government website. But one thing you can do is go away from the norm.

So we were naming a data analytics company, like super boring, right? And all of the data analytics companies at the time were using, it was when the cloud was relatively new. So they all had names with cloud in them.

I called it the cloud crowd. There were so many. And the company came to us and they had one of those cloud names and it was little U and then the word Cirrus, like Cirrus cloud.

And it was difficult for people. They didn’t know how to pronounce it. The little U and then the big C was weird.

So instead of looking to clouds, which everybody else was doing, we went in the other direction and we did a deep dive into data analytics, learned what is it all about really? And it boils down to, it’s looking for patterns, right? That’s what these analysts are doing, they’re looking for patterns.

So we started looking at names of patterns and we saw the name Argyle. And Argyle, as you know, it’s a diamond pattern. So we made it about finding, it was Argyle data and it was all about finding diamonds in the data.

So is Argyle finding diamonds in the data? Was there a tagline? And if you think about Argyle, it’s super masculine pattern, right?

Like, only men really wear Argyle or traditionally. So it appealed to the target audience, which is primarily men. It’s really visual, right?

When you hear the name Argyle, you can picture the pattern in your head. An Argyle sweater, Argyle socks, and then it’s super unexpected. It’s familiar to us.

It’s memorable, but it’s so different and so unexpected. It really stands out among the cloud crowd, right? So that’s an example of one of those style of names.

Love it. Of a name that’s not a copycat versus a copycat. The R in Scratch stands for restrictive and that is where you outgrow your name.

So I think a lot of people know when they’ve outgrown their name. A classic example is in Canada, there is a store called Canadian Tire. And they sell way more than tires.

They sell trampolines, toys, tools, tropical plants, a lot of stuff that not everything begins with T. But that is a company that really outgrew their name. And in the 80s, their tagline was we sell more than tires.

Like, what a waste of a tagline. So they should have changed their name a long time ago. But that’s a name that’s restrictive.

So everybody in Canada at this point knows that Canadian Tire sells more than tires. But if they wanted to roll into the UK, into Australia, the States, they would have to spend a fortune on an ad campaign. Can you imagine this new, you’re driving down the road and you see this new big box store named Canadian Tire?

Like, but then they don’t, they sell way more than tires. Like, what a stupid name, right? So the second you start feeling like your name is restrictive to what you’re selling, it’s probably time to change it.

Then the A in Scratch stands for annoying. And annoying is when your name frustrates people. So an example is, let’s say you have a number in the middle of your name.

So your company is called Coast to Coast, but it’s spelled Coast numeral to Coast. That’s going to annoy people and frustrate them. If your name is spelled backwards, people get confused.

They think, oh, but it’s so creative, right? It is creative to spell your name backwards. Just because something’s creative doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, right?

We’ve all seen very creative art. It may be creative to wear, you know, two different colored socks. Does that make good fashion sense?

Usually not. So really keep that in mind.

You know, there’s like listeners right now going, like, checking their socks quickly just to make sure that’s not happening.

Well, engineers are really guilty of annoying, of, yeah, wearing black socks. No, annoying names because they kind of fall in love with, like the classic spelled the name backwards was Zobny, X-O-B-N-I, which was inbox spelled backwards. But nobody knew looking at it that it was inbox spelled backwards because we don’t intuitively spell things backwards.

No.

So yeah, that was a big problem.

And the way that name’s pronounced is not great, like a zombie brand is probably not.

Well, here’s the thing. It was pronounced Zobny and that’s how they were going to pronounce it. It has a little accent mark over it, Zobny.

And then Bill Gates pronounced it Zobny. So they changed the pronunciation of it because he pronounced it that way.

Yeah, there’s a lot of faults in that one.

Another category that I just don’t understand is the tech world with monitored numbers and they have all these numerals and numbers you’ll never remember. Why do they do that?

I don’t know why they do it. I think back to engineers and yeah, it makes sense to them, but I prefer when Apple did the operating systems with the big cat names, like Snow Leopard and Panther. Those are cool, they’re easy to remember.

Can you easily put them in order? No, but when a new OS comes out, we know, we hear about it. So they ran out of big cat names.

So then they went into California names, which is a smarter thing to do because there’s way more things in California. I think they’ve made a couple of mistakes. So Apple would never test a name and I think that’s great.

I’m a big believer in don’t test a name, but also they should be a little smarter. I’m a huge Apple fan, but I think the name Yosemite, unless you live in California or you’re familiar with Yosemite Sam from Bugs Bunny, you would pronounce that word Yosemite because it looks like it’s pronounced Yosemite, like Vegemite, right, Jacob? And then with Mavericks, so Mavericks is a surf spot in Northern California, but nobody, Mavericks is plural, but it sounds like it should be Maverick.

Maverick would be a product name. Mavericks is weird for a singular product name. So I think those are two mistakes they made.

And there’s so many things in California that they could have chosen from. I think they could have done a better job on those two.

I just love the simplicity of iPhone one, two, three, four. Like it’s just, you understand where you are in the lineup. It’s very clear.

It’s not very creative, but it helps me understand like what model is out.

Yeah, I mean, there’s a, yes, for whatever. Yeah, numbers make sense a lot of times. Yeah, but they’re not as fun.

You’re right.

Yep. All right. So we’re up to T, I think, or is it C?

Yes, the T in Scratch stands for tame. And you don’t want your name to be a wallflower. You want your name needs to stand out and make some noise.

Quiet names don’t get noticed. You know, there’s so much, so many things are vying for attention right now. So you can’t afford to be shy.

Even if you’re like B2B, you can still be clever and be a B2B name. We name a lot of law firms. And we did one for startups in San Francisco.

And they’re all about helping startups get their foundational documents. It’s all about the foundation. So we named it Bedrock and people knew Bedrock from the Flintstones.

And what happened is when we named it Bedrock, the primary attorney, Laila Benajamali had been using her own name and she knew people had trouble pronouncing it, spelling it, remembering it. So that’s when she said, I want a brand name instead. And she said, once she changed the name to Bedrock, they started attracting the type of clients that they wanted to work with.

It’s a cool name, cool people liked it, and that’s who they attracted. So that’s another thing that a name can do for you. It can help you, like, you know, eat my words.

We’re attracting people, the type of people that we want to work with, because they appreciate how fun our name is.

Oh, sure, sure. Okay, so then the second C in Scratch stands for Curse of Knowledge. And the Curse of Knowledge, again, an engineer thing.

Sorry to hate on the engineers, but you guys have just made things so difficult. Why did you even call it W? What’s up with the WWW?

Why couldn’t it just be WebDot? WWW is nine syllables. Web is one.

Right, I get it, World Wide Web, but it was abbreviation. No one likes abbreviations. So the curse of knowledge is where you know what it means, but you forget that nobody else knows what it means.

So it’s a good way to think of the curse of knowledge as if something’s foreign. Either it’s a foreign word, so maybe it means something in Swahili, but people don’t know Swahili, or it’s just foreign to people, like it’s back to being unfamiliar. So an example of a name with a curse of knowledge is this guy, we have, by the way, the Smiling Scratches is on our website.

And so people take it every day, and I see the names that come through. And this guy submitted a name, it was called Moran Quest. And it was for some government contracting, government consulting thing.

And he said Moran, M-O-R-A-N was the Masai word for like strength or warrior, meant something like that. And I’m like, he’s like, is it too close to moron? And I’m like, yeah, that’s a problem.

But the main problem is like, nobody speaks the Masai language. Sorry, they’re just not gonna know that. So yeah, that’s curse of knowledge, right?

And you’re not gonna be there to explain it to somebody. And then finally, the H in Scratch sounds for hard to pronounce. And we talked about that with Cricut and Crycut.

And yeah, you only want your name to be pronounced one way or you’re gonna dilute your brand.

Oh, well, it’s quite a list there. That’s a very thorough list to go through. If you can get through all of them, I’d be, it’s definitely not easy, is it?

You know what? It’s not as hard as people think. It’s not as hard as people think.

And I mean, if you look at our portfolios, you’ll see 100 examples of, hey, these names all pass the smile and scratch test. But yeah, it can be hard for people.

I was gonna say, Alexandra, do you find that as you’re crafting these names that sometimes some names score higher in some areas, if you like, and lower in other areas?

Yeah.

They might all pass, but there’s still some sort of variation in terms of the quality of the name based on the criteria that you’ve set.

Yeah, so sometimes a name won’t have legs, but it’s still a good name. But we’re always trying to go for the five factor, I guess you could call it, to have all five. But legs is one, some people are like, no, that’s okay, I don’t need it.

But sometimes it’s just such a great name. So I was having a kickoff call with someone the other day, and this is a woman that, she lives in Michigan, which is in middle America. She’s a farmer, and she’s a meat farmer.

So she raises rabbits, chickens, geese, lambs, not cows, but a lot of other animals. And she then butchers and sells at the local farmer’s market. So she wanted a name that would, that she could monetize with merchandise.

And those are our favorite kind of names, because we wanna do a very clever name that will make people smile. So the name that we came up with plays into the fact that this whole idea of wholesomeness, and it harkens back to a more innocent time, like the 1950s, where meat was more wholesome, right? Because she doesn’t, you know, she’s organic and all of that.

So if you guys are familiar with the TV show, Leave It to Beaver, which was a 1950, no, 1960s TV show, and it was this, you know, family, June and Ward Cleaver, with the two boys, Wally and Beaver, Beaver Cleaver. And June Cleaver was like the typical 50s housewife, and she wore a pearl necklace, and she was always, you know, dressed in her perfect apron. And so Mrs. Cleaver was her name.

So I quickly realized talking to this woman on the kickoff call, I’m like, I have the perfect name for you, Mrs. Cleaver. So to anybody here in the States, they would totally get that. And so that’s becoming her name.

So it’s going to be Mrs. Cleaver with the descriptor is wholesome meat, because wholesome ties into a more wholesome time. And then the fact that it’s like, you know, organic. So organic is a very, here in the States, a very like kind of West Coast, East Coast, kind of snobby thing.

But in middle America, like it’s not as important, but wholesome sounds good. And for these tourists at the market too, they’re, you know, they’re a wholesome part of the country. And then with the tagline, she’s all about, she’s very ethical and she’s all about preventing climate change.

So her tagline that I did is for caring carnivores. Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. So I did all of that. Well, on the kickoff call, I’m like, I know your name.

And then I’m like, let’s do a follow-up call, do all the other stuff. Yeah, but I’m very fast. Very fast.

Yeah, that’s very fun. I love. Hello, fellow brand builders.

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That’s brandbuildersummit.com. Now, back to the show. I had a question around getting names across the line, right?

So it’s a very subjective matter, names. So how do you actually get a name sold? You know, if you’re for our listeners who are trying to go through this naming process and they’re presenting names, like how do you get them across the line?

Well, one thing is use the smile and scratch task because that will at least help you evaluate and tell you if the name is strong or weak. And then if you are presenting to a lot of people and you need to justify why something’s a great name, go to ChatGPT sucks at coming up with names. What it’s phenomenal at is writing rationale.

And I actually did an April Fool’s joke where I, do you guys celebrate April Fool’s where you are? I mean, celebrate is a strong word, right? Yeah, we don’t like, it’s not like a bar thing, but yeah, we play April, we prank each other.

So I did this prank where I said that Elon Musk hired us to name his new baby and no one even questioned, not one person questioned if he had a baby. Cause he has like 10 or 11 kids. And I had this photo of him holding this baby.

I said it was a baby girl, but the photo is him holding a baby boy, but like, you know, no one knows when it’s a baby. And so I said that he hired us. And so I had gone on ChatGPT and I, oh, I came up with a name, which was XXchromosone.

Doesn’t that totally sound like something Elon Musk would name his daughter? Cause he loves the letter X and like double X chromosome is a girl. So I went, that’s the only part I had down.

And then I went on ChatGPT and I said, I’m playing this prank, here’s the name, Elon Musk, write the most complex detailed description of why it’s a great name, go into the linguistics of it, the science of it. Oh my God, if you go on my LinkedIn, you can see it. It’s phenomenal what it did.

I mean, just paragraph after paragraph about why it’s a great name. And it was like so high level what it wrote. So if you need help selling in a name, just go to ChatGPT and you don’t have to ask it for a complicated thing, but just say, why is this a great name?

And I’ve done it before on the call with a client where they’re like, yeah, remind me why this is a great name. I’m like, I usually just like something or I don’t like something, but I just like just put it to ChatGPT and it’s great. And we let it write all of our rationale now.

Cause it’s just very, it’s gonna see things that I might not see. So yeah, that’s a good way to sell in a name.

Scratch and smile test and then, you know, rationale. Is there anything else you’d?

Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of other criteria you can ask yourself. It depends what’s important. You know, do you want to monetize the name than not something, what’s important, right?

Do you have to have, no one’s gonna get an exact match domain anymore. But to a lot of people, it’s really important about the domain name. So like make all the criteria that matters.

And I would say another thing is just when you are going to sell in a name to other people, just get everybody on board, you know, kind of beforehand, like prime the pump, you know, let them know, okay, the names we’re gonna show you today, I’ll pass this test, you know, send it to them in advance. And that will help.

So the domain thing is very, it comes up often, like, and it can kill a lot of names. So how do you deal with this situation?

Don’t let a great name be killed by the lack of available domain names. There are 350 million domain names registered right now. So the chance of you finding an exact match domain name that isn’t taken or isn’t for sale for 100 grand is very unlikely.

So just get that idea out of your head that that’s even a possibility. A lot of what I do when I talk to clients is set expectations. Like, you’re not gonna get a one word name.

Like those don’t exist anymore. You’re not gonna get a one word domain name. So just go into it assuming that you’re going to add a modifier word.

So you’re going to have, you know, if we weren’t eatmywords.com, we could be eat my words, names, brand names, naming, branding, just get used to the fact that you’re going to add a word to your domain name. And it’s actually not a bad thing. If we were eat my words naming, for instance, it would help with our search engine optimization.

And that’s what happens when you have a modifier. No one expects you to have a pure match domain name, especially not one that people can spell. And don’t sacrifice spelling to get that butchered spelling just because you can’t.

And even with the butchered spellings, it’s just so hard to get anything. So an easy workaround is just add the domain name or add a modifier word. And you can either do it before or after the word.

So, you know, we could have like, we are eat my words, but it’s better to have it after the main name because then people won’t be confused. Like, wait, is there a name we are eat my words? So have it after.

The other thing is you can do some creative workarounds such as having… So we were naming this Gourmet Popcorn Store and the name we came up with was Pop Psychology and the domain name was taken. But we, so in psychology is hard for some people to spell.

So we use the tagline as the domain name which was Crazy for Popcorn.

That’s much more memorable, easier to type.

Exactly, it’s more memorable and it helps extend the brand. Then another thing and it makes people smile. And we didn’t do this one, but this is one of my favorites.

It is a mail order turkey company and it doesn’t have a great name. It’s Greenberg Smoked Turkeys. You know, Greenberg could be spelled two different ways, but their domain name is unforgettable.

It’s gobblegobble.com.

Awesome.

So what about a really stubborn CEO who wants a.com, is insisting on it. How do you deal with that?

We will first say, how much are you prepared to spend on a domain name and kind of set the set, like give them a reality track because people have no idea how much they got. I mean, they’re so expensive now. So I think a lot of times when we do that, they’ll back down.

Or if they’re like, no, we don’t, because often as we’ll say, what’s more important, having a good name or having an available domain? Well, the domain name. So they were like, we’re not a good fit for you because we’re never gonna acquiesce to an available domain name if the name is something like, you know, Zobny.

So it’s about setting expectations early in the process, isn’t it?

Yeah.

And positioning yourself and your methodology.

Yeah, I just did that today. I had a call with a client that before, when we named something for them, it was some autonomous surface vessels that they sell to the military. And that was kind of crowded trademark wise, but it wasn’t like today they’d need names for their software.

I’m like, yeah, this is a whole different beast. It’s so much harder. So yeah, I set the expectations and they didn’t care about the domain name because they have a company name that the software will go under.

But I just had to say, yeah, it’s probably gonna be a two word name. Nothing really predictable is going to be available. So yeah, a lot of times it is just setting expectations.

Great. And what about changing brand names? A lot of times there’s equity in the name.

When is it too late to change a name? How do you know when to change?

The time to change your name is when you feel you’ve outgrown it. And you know, it’s kind of like, think about this. Have you ever been in a relationship and you feel like you’ve outgrown it, but you stay in it too long?

It’s the same thing with a name. Like if it’s time, you just know when it’s time. Maybe there’s some confusion.

If somebody said, if I just moved to Canada and I asked someone, if somebody told me they worked at Canadian Tire and they told me like, oh, oh, your kid needs a trampoline. You should come in. I’d be like so confused.

Like, wait, what do you mean? So people start finding out pretty quickly that they’ve outgrown their name or just that their name, look, if your name has problems, you already know. I don’t even need to tell you.

If people are spelling it wrong, if they’re questioning the pronunciation or what it means, you know, then that’s time to change your name. It’s not working for you. It’s working against you.

We’ve changed many names. We have now changed two brand names that were more than a hundred years old. One was a bank named First National Bank of Syracuse.

Syracuse is a big town or a big city in New York, but it wasn’t that big city in New York. It was a tiny little town in Kansas in the middle of the country. So the name was a disconnect and they were a Maverick Bank.

They wanted a name that was more about, you know, they were all about making dreams come true. So that’s the direction we went in and we named them Dream First. It’s really different for a bank.

And then although in the UK and Australia, I think the bank, like Egg in the UK, like I’ve always loved that name. Another one, we just named some community healthcare centers and they were named Queen’s Care and they had that name forever and they didn’t want to give up the name, but they were forced to for, you know, legal reasons for something or other. And so Queen’s Care and they really, that’s the hardest thing for us to do is when someone’s being forced to change their name, very different when somebody wants to change their name.

So they’re being forced, they cannot let go, but we’re like, you’re just gonna have to let it go. You cannot use it anymore. Let’s just move on.

So they are faith based community health centers. And so we came up with a name that was really visual, evocative and pretty and the name is Grace Light. So that is their new name.

Here for me.

Wait.

We’ve talked about when it’s good to change your name, but I’ve got this circumstance, right? So I was gonna throw it on the table and see how you would attack this. So I’ve got a client at the moment who have gone through a lot of merger and acquisitions.

So they’re scaling fast, they’re in the tech space. I won’t go into any specifics, but what’s happened is, as they’ve acquired new businesses, they’ve acquired their teams and their specialisms, but also the platforms and the software, if you like, that sits underneath that. And their ultimate aim is to amalgamate it all into one beautiful system that makes sense.

But as we’re moving into that space, we’ve got a number of challenges because all these things are called different things. So I’ve literally got a workshop in a couple of weeks in Europe, where we’re going to actually start the process of actually just getting some of the members of these teams together to start mapping out inside their individual companies, what they call everything, because it’s so confusing. So we’re going to start that.

But I know that even once we’ve done that and we’ve gone through some simplification, what we’re actually looking at is a portfolio situation, where there’s an architecture of different kind of product and services, if you like, that connect underneath one umbrella brand, if you like. And I was thinking about throwing an example on the table of a brand that I think has probably been a bit like that and just what your thoughts are. So if you think of Adobe and Adobe software, you’ve got a number of names like Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, After Effects.

These are all individual apps or programs, if you like, that sit under the Adobe name. Now, I’m going to be in that kind of situation, but I’ve got this opportunity with this client to say, okay, well, let’s rationalize what we call things because at the moment, there’s that opportunities there. And unlike Adobe, like I kind of look at Adobe Suite, for example, and I see very, I guess, like, it doesn’t sort of make sense.

Why is one After Effects, two words that kind of join together, but another one is, you know, Illustrator, which is sort of one singular word. So what I’m sort of advocating for is a system that sits behind our naming strategy for new items that come in or things that are already within the portfolio. I just wondered what your thoughts were on that and whether you had any kind of thoughts for businesses or brands in similar situations.

Yeah, sure. And Adobe, so it’s funny because I see the common, and we’ve worked with Adobe, I see the common denominator in all of their names. It’s like, they’re all easy to spell and pronounce, right?

There’s no got drunk and played Scrabble names, right? So I would say that’s a pretty simple common denominator. When you’re working with all these brands that are all coming together, there might be a lot, and maybe it is that simple, but usually it’s not.

People are going to be duking it out and saying, no, go with, because this is what’s happened with us in the past is when there’s a merger, we had a company merge, it was Hudson River Healthcare, merged with Bright Point Health and some other company, and they’re like, should we make them all together, Hudson Bright? We’re like, no. And then, oh, and they insisted on keeping the logo, one of these deals.

Who knows what you’re going to find out? But if I had known this, when my salesperson bid on the job, if I had known we were going to be forced to use the logo of a sun, and we couldn’t use words with a gh sound, because we had to appeal to Spanish-speaking audiences, and they have trouble with the gh sound, so we couldn’t use the word light or bright, but we had to use the sun. Like, no, that’s like removing so many things from what we’re able to do.

But sometimes you have to figure out in advance what are all the parameters, and we ended up naming them Sun River Health, which is a really pretty name. But I would say go into it and kind of like don’t do the, what I call the amalgamated clusterfuck when, you know, people are just combining things together. Like, who’s the strongest?

Like, can they all fit under that name now? Do all the names, if all the names do work together, try to find a tagline that can tie them all together, maybe. Like that to me seems like a really easy thing to do.

Will the company have one name? Is it like a company with lots of different products?

Yeah, the company’s got a pretty strong name. So it’s more like the sub, the sub, what would you call it? The child brands that sit underneath.

And I think you’re right. I think what I’m hearing, and, you know, it’s great to hear for me. So thanks for this free advice that you’re giving out.

But hopefully it’s helping other people. What I’m hearing is, is set out that criteria, make sure you know the parameters, and make sure that that’s really, really clear. I mean, my philosophy on this, they have got some really awful names in the suite.

And, you know, a lot of them fail on the scratch stuff massively. And they know that, right? So that’s why this opportunity has come together to rethink all of it.

So all of it’s on the table. It’s going to be a fun process. It’s going to be, I definitely think I’m going to come across some of the stuff that you’ve said.

I’m already getting a sense of egos at play. And, you know, oh, that’s our name. You know, you can’t change that, you know.

But it’s all going to be considered and thought through and rationalized to fit with a strategy to position the brand and all of its assets powerfully. It’s just complicated. And I think it’s going to be fun, but yeah, definitely set out that criteria early.

Make sure that you understand the parameters. And yeah, I guess it’s a case of going for it. And for me, it’s one of those things where, just because you’ve had that name for 10 years since you founded or whatever, as you rightly say, doesn’t make it a great name.

And particularly then when you put that in a suite, right? Because now as a customer, I’m navigating around your world, right? And we just got to make it simple.

I quite liked what you said about earlier in the show about the Apple OSX kind of naming around animals, for example, or, and I just think, yeah, we just need to kind of keep it simple, keep it slick and think and just have a rationale so that when somebody else in the business goes, hey, I’m gonna create this new platform, there is some thought behind what we’re gonna actually call that and it’s not gonna be completely splintered and bizarre and confusing. So I’ll do my best and I’ll come back to you, Alexandra, and tell you where I got to eventually.

So with like animal names, planet names, Greek god names, like those have all been done. So a strategy that I like is one that Ford uses where I don’t know if they’re still doing it, but all of their cars start with F, Fiesta, Fairmont, Futura, there’s lots and lots. So that’s a really simple strategy, just using a letter of the alphabet.

Another is, and don’t use the word F, use the letter F, F there’s very, which is crazy, but I get it with Ford, but the letter S, and the S is in supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and the letter C, as in copycat, those letters have more words associated with them than anything else, and then go obscure, you know? Go obscure, don’t go predictable, especially in software, it’s just, it’s all been done. Or maybe it’s all after, you know, colors, or, you know, go for some obscure colors, I don’t know.

But get people to agree, like, if people are going to be trying to brainstorming, be brainstorming on the fly, that’s going to be really, really hard. I would just tell people, let’s not make this a brainstorming meeting, let’s make this a strategy meeting. I mean, you’re a strategist.

Yeah, yeah, because once, because everybody fancies themself as being a really good at coming up with names, and people don’t, no one’s ever learned how to do this in school really, or yeah, they don’t do it every day so that they don’t have the knowledge. But I did want to tell you another strategy is, do you guys have Ben and Jerry’s ice cream there? Okay, so you know, Ben and Jerry’s, so Ben and Jerry’s just named after two guys, not a clever creative name at all, but how they’ve made everything we have together is with their flavor names are all really fun.

So, you know, there’s Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, Liz Lemon. So that’s how they’ve been able to have a theme. So if you can just find a theme that you can work with, that will really help.

Yeah, brilliant. Find a theme, folks, for your suite of names in your portfolio. Love it.

I also thought of another technique, you know, Apple, they use the like iWatch and iPad and, you know, have the something before it, but it’s not perfect because, you know, the AirPods, they have as a, they don’t have iPods, I guess, because it’s already an iPod. So that kind of like broke that system.

The Watch is alright, it’s not iWatch.

Yeah, exactly.

It’s iPod Watch. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Not perfect, but, you know, it’s another way of doing things.

And then that was so copycatted, right? There was iEditing. It was.

Yeah, there was.

But it annoys me, right? Like that description, what you just said there, Jacob, really annoys me. Like, it’s like, yeah, iPad, iPhone, all of that works.

And then suddenly we go Apple Watch. Like, no, like that’s exactly what you’re saying, Alexandra, about legs. It’s like, for some reason, that wasn’t a thing.

Maybe a legal reason or something like that. But like, it frustrates me as a strategist looking at that, that doesn’t fit the beautiful criteria of what’s gone before. So, you know, and I think that rationale, you kind of, you need to have that to have alignment and progression as a business scales.

So yeah, you know, it’s hard, clearly, if Apple can’t do it, you know, it’s a tough one. But I think we should try.

Yeah, that’s interesting about, I never thought about Apple Watch and iWatch. And I imagine when they were first using the i, they must have brainstormed what products could we, you know, looking into their crystal ball, what products could we possibly introduce? And a watch is pretty, I mean, not like any of us would know the technology that it would be able to do, but still, like, oh, it could, you know, an iCar, like, you know, you just look around, like, yeah.

So I don’t know how they didn’t get that name.

I know, right? And like the latest like 3D virtual reality goggles that they have is called like Vision Pro. It’s like, but like, why wouldn’t you call that iVision or, yeah, I don’t know, iGoggle or whatever.

I don’t know, whatever. It’s like, it’s like they sort of, it sounds to me like there’s been a strategy to actually to break from the i whatever. And so the new tech that’s coming out has changed that, you know, from that.

But hey, it’s one of those things. And it frustrates me because it’s such, that was such a distinctive thing, rightly or wrongly, it was very distinctive in the market to call it that. And you knew immediately it was Apple.

So yeah, interesting, interesting to ponder.

So Alexandra, we talked about brainstorming. What are some other techniques you use to come up with a great name or our listeners could use?

One that I like a lot is to go to stock photo libraries or just Google images and type in words that will just stimulate ideas. So, you know, a picture says a thousand words. So that’s something you can do, just brainstorm, looking at pictures, type in some keywords.

If you were naming something fast, you could type in, you know, things that are fast, you know, fast and are quick. And it’s going to show you, you know, somebody running and it’s going to show you a, you know, a Puma. Maybe that’s where the name Puma came from.

So things like that. So just look at pictures. And also when you’re looking at the pictures, don’t say them in your head, say them out loud, because well, one, it’s going to wake up your brain more.

And two, you’ll be able to hear if something doesn’t sound right. So sometimes like if I was looking at a bird flying and I thought sores, you know, but then when I say sores out loud, it’s like, oh, that sounds like it could be like a wound, you know, sore. So that’s why it’s important to say things out loud too.

No one wants a sore.

So looking at visual images and what other techniques do you use?

I use rhyming dictionaries all the time. So I talked about gringo lingo. I mean, that came out of my own head, but yeah, rhyming dictionaries and then go deep.

So I was naming this blow dry bar and the client wanted a name that was whimsical yet sophisticated, hardest thing to do, hardest thing to do, but we love a challenge. So I was looking up the word blow and everything that rhymed with it. And I saw the word chateau and that was deep, right?

Chateau blow and that’s like, this is a great name. It’s whimsical and sophisticated. So yeah, that’s just a great place to look for ideas.

And AI, you mentioned it before, not a big fan of creating names. Personally, I find it very useful for combining things like themes and so forth. So do you use it as part of your brainstorming?

Yes, we’ll use it if we’re looking for something really specific. So if the client has a theme of tech, we’ll look at, give us a list of things in Texas. So there it’s very helpful.

But where, and then with the rationale, as I mentioned, or just kickstarting or brainstorming and like, give me a bunch of words that start with the letter M. Interesting words that start with the letter M. That’s where it’s great.

But if you try to say like, come up with a name for a Spanish language goal. There’s no way it’s coming up with gringo lingo. It does not, ChatGPT does not do clever at all.

It’s like the worst, like the sense of humor is so over the top, dad joke, grown, like, oh my God, there’s like, I hate all the, it’s like ridiculously silly bad puns or just like jokey. It’s like they’re greater humor, right? It’s that.

So like I was naming a travel game company for families and kids. And one of the names I came up with was Tripopotamus, like Hippopotamus. It’s not going to come up with that.

You know, fi, fi, fo, fun, fi, fi, fo, fam. It’s just not. And those, I just, those, some of those are just in my head, you know, or I’m just playing around with the word family, like fam.

Okay, what’s fam? Close to fun. You know, so it’s just kind of fooling around.

But Ciao GPT can write tag lines, I will give it that. But it’s also great for, I was trying to come up with 800 numbers for, you know, toll free numbers for one of my clients that wanted an easy to remember number. So I asked it come up with four, two, three, four and five letter words around, it was all around wealth.

So it gave me a bunch of words and then I just put them together. And then another time, I was trying to come up with, I do these power hour consulting calls. Well, I’ll spend an hour with you on the phone.

And I’m just like a machine. And this is where ChatGPT has been helpful to me. So I was trying to come up with a tagline.

So the woman, her company name was, it was wealth management. And her target audience was Christian women. So she had the name Full Bloom Financial.

So I put into ChatGPT, give me a list of words that are common to both the theme of religion and wealth and growth. It came up with some words, not all of them were great, but I saw the word abundance. And I’m like, oh, I love the word abundance.

That works for both. And then just in my head, I’m like, live in abundance, right? And so, yeah, it’s helpful for doing like, it would have taken me a really long time on my own to find those words.

And this is where it can be super helpful. But you have to know how to prompt it.

What does come down to it is prompts, yeah, the input. So on the topic of AI, it kind of leads into the future. Like what do you see as the future of brand naming?

Well, I think more and more names are going to be taken because of all the AI companies that are now out there. I mean, we have named a number of AI companies now. But more and more names are going to be so taken.

But also, I think like AI naming is like the lowest common denominator. And so I’m sad that people are going in that direction. But I feel like it’s a long ways off from doing something.

It’s not coming up with a Baconator. Yeah, it’s just not coming up with Mrs. Cleaver for a meat farm.

It lacks the cleverness.

It really does.

So have you noticed any other trends in naming recently?

Yeah, I have. With domain names, I saw this today with a designer actually. His domain name wasn’t a.com.

It was a.studio. So I think people are more comfortable with the top level domain names is what those are called. They don’t work for everyone.

What I would caution you against, the studio is fine because it’s a real word that we know where it gets to be problematic is when there are these country codes. So, for instance, .io, do either of you guys know what.io stands for? It’s no one does.

This is like my party tricks. Indian Ocean Territories. Yeah, it does.

It does. And.me. Oh, God.

No, I’m going to forget this one.

Middle East.

No, no, that’s a great guess. No, it’s Montenegro.

Serious, I’ve got a.me, Mr. Matt Davies.me. There we are. So well, it’s never done me any harm.

Just putting it out there.

Well, people when people use something like.io. So I’ll give you here’s like what can happen. I was at TechCrunch and I saw on a sign card.io and I didn’t know if the company name was card and that was just their domain name.io.

If it was pronounced card, card.io or cardio because you know how sometimes with like the right.

So that’s where people get in trouble.

Cardio, I think would be fun but then, yeah, people get super mixed up on the dots. But yeah, I’m seeing more and more people using because just because the domain names are taken but.com will always be king.

Yeah. I’ve tried to pitch other top level domains and people, they say in our area, people don’t recognize that so we can’t use it. So it often comes down to like, who the audience is and how recognized it is.

I think that’s changing though. I think I think, you know, as time goes on, as you say, Alexandra, like we’re all going to have to get more comfortable with, you know, diverse ways of kind of locating stuff. It’s just going to evolve I think.

But yeah, amazing. Well, what a nightmare it is, you know, with the complexities that are out there to keep coming up with unique stuff. I just, you know, there’s just such a volume that’s continually growing.

I’d love to know and, you know, how many domain names are being registered, like, and how fast that’s growing into. I think, you know, there’s probably some stats out there for that. But I bet it’s, you know, millions a year, you know, it’s just constantly growing.

So, we’ve got to think outside the box in relation to that stuff.

Yeah, and what’s so crazy, so I did a podcast last week with a guy that used to be a domain reseller and he told me there’s 350 million in existence right now. And yeah, they’re just getting harder and harder to find. But it’s funny, here in the States, our toll free numbers used to all be 800 numbers.

And then they became 877 and 888 and 866. And you know what, nobody cared. I think in the beginning, it might have been a little like, I don’t know, but nobody cared.

Just like with our phone numbers now, no one cares what your area code is. People have moved on from that, but it’s something about that.com. People are just holding on to it.

It’s actually, it’s both that it’s kind of a double edged sword for me. It’s good because a lot of people think the domain name is really important. So they’ll hire us to help them find one.

But then it’s also if people are like, no, we have to have an exact match. I’m like, yeah, we’re not going to do that for you. And no naming firm will.

There’s very few that will guarantee that it’s too hard.

Thank you, Alexandra. So we’re going to wrap this up. Is there anything else you’d love to share?

Yeah, I did want to say one more thing about name changes. So if you are thinking about changing your name and you’re like, people won’t be able to find me, that might have been true 30 years ago. But it’s never been easier for people to find you.

You do a website redirect. You have an email of your, you have your customers’ emails. You send them a big email blast, right?

So you’ve got the newsletters, the social media. There’s so many different ways for people to find you now. Your Instagram, right?

All of that. So I know someone who recently, this guy’s a paintless dent repairer for cars. And I just, I came up with the best.

And this is one that could just pop into my head. Ding, ding, ding. That’s the name, ding, ding, ding dent repair.

And he just changed his Instagram. Like he just changed it and redirected. So there you go.

Wow.

Well, thank you for sharing your knowledge. Where can people connect with you?

eatmywords.com or follow me on LinkedIn or connect with me on LinkedIn and tell me that, tell me that you saw me here on the podcast or heard me here. And don’t forget to give this podcast an awesome rating. If you haven’t already.

Five star rating for JUST Branding.

Very nice, good books. Thanks Alexandra. Thank you so much.

It was a pleasure.

My pleasure.

Thanks for coming on. I would also just sort of add at the end, don’t forget Alexandra’s book, Hello, My Name Is Awesome. I think at least I know in the UK you can get that through Amazon and probably other major retailers.

Yeah, this is the book. Yeah. All right.

Thank you.

Thanks Alexandra.

Yeah.

Hello, and welcome to JUST Branding, the only podcast dedicated to helping designers and entrepreneurs grow brands. Here are your hosts, Jacob Cass and Matt Davies.

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Join the waitlist now at brandbuildersummit.com to secure your free spot. That’s brandbuildersummit.com. Now back to the show.

Hello and welcome to JUST Branding. Today we have Alexandra Watkins with us. Alexandra is a naming expert and the author of the book, Hello, My Name Is Awesome, How to Create Brand Names That Stick.

We’re going to jump right into that. So hello and welcome to the show, Alexandra.

Nice to be here. And Matt.

And Matt.

Yeah, Matt’s here.

Don’t forget me.

We’re going to jump straight into it. But first, I would love to hear your story. How did you come to become a naming expert and write a book about it?

Well, I started my career as an advertising copywriter, and I worked for big agencies like Ogilvy. And every once in a while, I would get thrown a bone and get to name something. And I love naming and I was really good at it.

So, but I had no idea that naming was actually a profession. So I was a copywriter for 16 years. And then when I found out that, like, oh, wait a minute, naming is like a bona fide career.

So I switched gears and I just decided I’m going to be a professional namer and naming, as you know, naming is part of branding and branding and advertising never intersect. So I basically had to start over that make all new contacts in the world of branding. And so I quickly realized I started freelancing for all of these big naming firms, branding firms, and I quickly realized that no one was doing conceptual style of brand names.

They were all like based on linguistics and I knew nothing about linguistics. I only knew about how to concept and make a great ad headline. So that is the style of names that I started doing.

And that’s how I pardon the pun, made a name for myself, just doing very clever conceptual names that when people see them, they get them. They often smile, that releases dopamine and I’m going to share a few. Yeah, yeah.

Okay. So my claim to fame and people in the States will know this name is I named the Wendy’s Baconator, which is a bacon cheeseburger. It’s very famous.

It has its own Wikipedia page. It was recently the answer to a New York Times crossword. And it was also the answer on Jeopardy, which is a very popular game show we have.

So for intellectuals, to go from naming a bacon cheeseburger for truck drivers to like being on an intellectual game show. So yeah, the Baconator, I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of that. Another really fun name that I’ve done is a frozen yogurt franchise that I named Spoon Me.

I named a GPS for dogs retriever. And this is appropriate since your audience is global. I named a Spanish language school in Cali, Colombia, gringo lingo.

Genius.

Love it.

Well, we’re going to jump into how we actually create names and what makes good names on the mistakes. And I guess that leads us into the next point, unless you had more to share.

Oh, no, I’ll just say that I so after all of these, these firms were putting their good name on my great names, that’s when I was like, okay, I need to start my own firm. So that’s when I started Eat My Words. And we started out by naming things that make people fat and drunk, which is why we’re named Eat My Words.

And we still do a lot of that. And it’s by far the most fun thing that we do.

Amazing. All right. So your book, how did you come to write in that?

Did you see a gap in the market?

No, I got really lucky. I have that like Hollywood starlet story where I didn’t, I wasn’t even thinking about writing a book and an intern at a publisher came across me on Meetup. I was doing a speaking engagement.

She went to my website, which is eatmywords.com by the way. And she’s like, wow, this is really fun. And she showed it to, you know, the publisher, you know, editors and they’re like, yeah, this is, and they sent me an email and it just said, thought about writing a book.

You know, your writing style is so fun and refreshing and it’s so different than business communication today. And we would love to publish a book or two by you. What do you think?

And I was like, yeah, thanks, but no thanks that I want to write a book. My parents are authors and I know it’s a lot of work, but I had a number of conversations with them and then decided, yeah, this is actually a good idea. I should do it.

And I’m so glad that I did.

Yeah.

Yeah, I love your website. I think it’s quite funny, like the headline on your website, when you first hit it says something like your name shouldn’t be like someone’s got drunk and played Scrabble or something like that. That’s so true, isn’t it?

And what an interesting way to sort of introduce yourself, you know, as a sort of a headline. And I guess that comes from your copywriting background, right?

To be able to write, yeah, and that’s that’s yeah, I’ve been really lucky because I know how to concept so I could do a clever headline like your name shouldn’t look like you got drunk and played Scrabble. But yeah, I’ve been I’ve been so fortunate to have that background.

Well, let’s dive in. What makes a great brand name in your opinion?

In my opinion, the strongest thing that your name can do is make somebody smile. When you make someone smile, it releases all of these positive neurotransmitters. Don’t worry, this is the geekiest I’m going to get.

Okay, we like geeky.

We’re fine.

We know that about this stuff. Let’s go.

Okay. When you make someone smile, it releases all of these positive neurotransmitters like endorphins, serotonin, and that makes people feel good. Right.

So if your name can make somebody feel good, if people love your name before they’ve even tried your product, you are golden. So here’s an example. We named a cupcake store, The Church of Cupcakes.

People love that name before they’ve even had the cupcakes. Right. And it’s super memorable.

Or here’s one. I just gave out these for anybody watching, watching instead of listening. I just gave out these heart shaped, they’re glass, art, hearts, trophies, and I gave them out to 10 food and beverage names at a big trade show I went to.

The 10 most love at first sight names of the show. And by far my favorite name and everybody else’s seemed to be gourmet frozen cookie dough and it’s named dopamine, but it’s spelled like dough, right?

Yeah. So people love names like that. Since the show, I’ve probably been on, this is the seventh podcast I’ve done since that show.

I talk about that name constantly. I must say it three times a day in conversations. So when you have a name like that, you’re golden, right?

So that is the strongest thing that your name can have is the ability to make an emotional connection. And if you can make someone smile, that’s just the best feeling.

I think that’s so smart, Alexandra, because like the other thing I think when you think about, so obviously we’re on, you’re on JUST Branding right now. And you know, we think about brands not just as the logo and the fonts, but you know, it’s a lot wider than that. It is about the meaning that people attach to you.

And just following on from what you’ve said there, I guess, you know, I don’t know the stats. I don’t know if you know the stats. But I wonder if a study has ever been done, which looks at when we come across a new brand, how many times do we hear it before we actually see it?

Right? I don’t know. Like that.

I mean, I don’t know if anyone could even do a study like that. But wouldn’t that be interesting that actually the logo itself that everyone fixates on, right, might even be the second or third thing that somebody comes across because potentially they would have heard of that name first through word of mouth or someone talking about the product or the service or whatever it is. So interesting, right?

Get the name right and everything else follows.

Yeah, exactly. An example that’s really interesting, you brought that up. So a lot of times people see something and they think they know how to pronounce it, or they might hear it one way.

Okay, they might hear it one way. So I kept hearing about this or I kept seeing this logo for this brand name Crycut, C-R-I-C-U-T. So that’s how I pronounce it, Crycut.

And it wasn’t until I got hired by the queen of Crycut to help name one of her services, she pronounced it Cricut. I’m like, oh my gosh, I was so embarrassed. I’m like, this whole time I’ve been pronouncing it wrong.

She’s like, oh, half the people pronounce it Cricut, half pronounce it Crycut. And what happens in that instance, it’s kind of like what you’re talking about. So you could be telling me about Cricut, Jacob, you could be telling me about Crycut.

I would have no idea you’re talking about the same thing because they sound completely different, right? So your brand name should only be pronounced one way.

Yeah, I love that. I don’t know if you’re familiar, in the UK there’s a car brand, right? Basically, the way that the majority of people in the UK were pronouncing it was not correct.

So they’ve had to do like a whole campaign to help us all say their name right. So in the UK, we’d often pronounce their name Hyundai, Hyundai, because that’s kind of how it’s pronounced. But actually, it’s Hyundai, right?

That’s how they pronounce it, Hyundai, it’s funny because here we say Hyundai.

There we are. So I probably said it wrong, even in my attempt to say it right. So the point is, though, that if you’ve got a name like that, like it is really confusing.

And then for me, like when I see a brand, then having to do education around its name rather than talking about its product and its service and its benefits, it’s clearly that there’s a strategic error gone on, at least at that level. But I guess for them, really tricky for them to then change because it’s a global brand now and it’s hard. But perhaps we’ll come on to naming and chopping and changing it a bit later on.

But yeah, interesting, fascinating.

Yeah, now that is really interesting. And yeah, they’re a huge company in Korea. But they came into the US and with the car, they first came into the US with the car.

And I mean, that was probably 40 years ago. And yeah, people are still, I think now with all the TV commercials people know, but so many times with these, yeah, we have the same thing with this company called Rakuten and nobody knows how to pronounce it. And so their TV ads are some man on the street asking people how they pronounce it.

And like, what a waste of time and money, right? So when you’re starting out with a blank slate, don’t give yourself any disadvantages because you don’t want to spend all the, anytime you’re having to explain to somebody, here’s how you pronounce it, here’s how you spell it. You’re essentially apologizing for it, right?

And that devalues your brand.

100%. Yeah.

So I had another question around what makes a great brand name. So the smile and the emotional connection, but let’s say you’re in the business and environment, and it may not be as suitable for that kind of scenario. What are the, some other traits that make a quality brand name?

So I have a 12 point name evaluation filter. It’s called the smile and scratch test. Smile is an acronym for the five qualities that make a name strong.

And scratch is an acronym for the seven deal breakers that make a name weak. And a lot of those are blind spots that people don’t see. So smile, and these are all the things, whether it’s a business to business name, you know, D to C, C to C.

The S stands for suggestive. You want your name to suggest a positive brand experience. I mean, more than not, you want your name to suggest something about what your brand is or does.

But if it’s candy, for instance, the name Twizzlers doesn’t suggest what the candy is licorice. However, it suggests it’s a fun name, right? It’s a positive brand experience.

So it suggests it’s going to be a fun experience eating the candy. So yeah, you want your name to be suggestive. Metaphorical names are great for suggestive names.

If you think of Amazon being a metaphor for, you know, something very, very large. The M in smile stands for memorable. And what makes something memorable is if it’s based in the familiar.

So here in the States and probably globally, there’s a bike lock company and it’s named Kryptonite. And we all know Kryptonite from Superman. So that’s based in the familiar, making it easier to remember.

And then of course, Kryptonite repels Superman, therefore Kryptonite locks repels bike thieves. So that’s a great analogy that the metaphorical name is making. So that makes it memorable versus something that’s just a brand new, very unfamiliar word or jumble of letters that looks like someone got drunk and played Scrabble name.

Those aren’t familiar and our brain wants something to latch on to. And if we have something that already exists in our knowledge base, that’s what’s going to make it easier to recall later on when we’re trying to, you might not need a bike lock right now, but three months from now, you might need one. And if you’re trying to remember that name, what’s going to help you recall it is if it already exists in your brain’s dusting filing cabinet, if it already exists in your knowledge base.

All right. So the I in smile stands for imagery, if your name lends itself to visual imagery, then it also makes it easier to recall later. So we named an energy drink for women.

We don’t just name food and beverage, by the way, but those are always the fun example. Everyone can relate to it. We named an energy drink for women.

It was an all natural energy drink. And it was like for the 4 p.m. hour when most women are chugging a Diet Coke like me. And it was all natural energy and it helped you like, you know, revive in the afternoon.

So we named it Bloom. And when you hear the name Bloom, you can picture a flower blooming or just a flower. So when you’re at the grocery store and you’re facing that wall of energy drinks and you’re trying again to recall it from your brain’s dusty filing cabinet in your hat, you know how we close our eyes trying to remember something?

That’s us going through our filing cabinet, right? But if you saw the name or you heard the name Bloom, you’re going to be able to recall it more easily because you will have already pictured something in your head. And then you’ll have that picture in your mind.

It reminds me of Gorilla Tape.

Yes, I love that name.

It’s a very strong name. Even the logo, it’s like very unusual. It literally features a big gorilla and such a strong name that ties in with the strength of the tape.

Yeah, I love that name. That’s a great example. I should use that.

Use that example.

You got something out of this.

The L stands for LEGS and LEGS is the hardest thing to do with the name unless you hire us because we’ll do it for you. But it’s the best thing to have and LEGS is when your name lends itself to a theme so you can extend your brand through wordplay. So an example is there’s a podcaster named Jason Sarkone and he read my book.

I had been on his podcast and then he said, I want to do another podcast. So he read my book and he came up with the name for his company, Bomb Track Media. Then he named his podcast, Let’s Blow This Up.

That’s such a great name, right? It plays into Bomb Track and then he calls his audience, The Bomb Squad and he calls his studio, The Bomb Shelter and he has packages like TNT and Dynamite. So you can see that’s a name with legs because you can extend it forever and ever.

So he talks about explosive growth. So that’s a name with legs and they’re endless. I mean, they’re just really fun to have and Eat My Words, my company name is one of those names as well.

We have a value menu, we have packages like Fun Size and The Whole Enchilada and Supermarket Special. If you’re watching this, you can see in my office, there’s the pink refrigerator that’s where I keep my books and a 1950s retro pink fridge.

I saw a flamingo floating around in the reflection as well.

Uh-oh, rival flamingo.

You can see it in the reflection. Yes. For anyone wants to see, on Instagram, go to San Diego Bitchin Backyard.

Bitchin, just like it sounds, no G. Yeah, you can see we have a Bitchin Backyard. Yeah, there’s two other flamingos that will be in there soon.

And we have a cheeky bar, surfboard fence with 26 surfboards and a bunch of skeletons. We have just a very, very fun and playful backyard.

Yeah, the theme that you’re talking about, like the legs, it’s, you know, we’re talking about flamingos now, they have legs. But as a theme, like, you know, flamingos, if your office could be a sanctuary, for example, or-

Yeah, oh, the flock. Yeah, no, I’ve used the flamingos a lot. But yeah, flock party, yeah, there’s so much you can do.

All right, cool. So legs or like a theme that kind of ties everything together. Then you have E, which is-

Yeah, the E is, it goes back to a name that makes people smile. If you can have a name that makes a strong emotional connection, and it doesn’t have to be that you make somebody smile, but maybe it’s like Gorilla Glue. Like you said, it’s a strong image, right?

And like, it’s a cool name when we see it, we like it, like we get it. So when you have a brand, and you guys know this, that resonates with somebody, that’s when you’re connecting with them. And that’s what people will remember.

All right.

So we’ve done the full smile, if that’s right. And then you had another framework for deal breakers, scratch.

So that’s scratch. So if it makes someone scratch their head, or if it will make someone scratch their head, scratch it off the list. So the S stands for spelling challenge.

You want your name to be spelled exactly how it sounds. And your name shouldn’t look like a typo. It’s just that simple.

And a lot of people have, you know, they’re so desperate to find an available domain name that they’ll spell their brand name wrong. And it’s kind of being penny wise and pound foolish. Like, we’ve all done this, we’ve emailed somebody, their email gets bounced back because we spelled the name of their company wrong.

Or we’re trying to find it online. We can’t because it’s not spelled the way it sounds. So your name shouldn’t, like I said, it shouldn’t look like a typo.

Don’t drive proofreaders, bat shit crazy. The first C in Scratch stands for copycat. Nobody likes the copycat.

Why be somebody else when you can be yourself?

I was going to ask you about that actually. Because one thing that I guess is tricky is kind of coming up with unique things in particular marketplaces and space. How can somebody be sure that they’re not being a copycat?

Say they come up with a great name. What sort of checks do you recommend or suggest or how do you think people should attack that question? How would they know?

First of all, do your trademark research. Have a reputable trademark attorney do your research for you. If you’re in the States, you can start off on USPTO.gov.

They recently updated their whole system and it’s so much easier to use now. It is no longer like a government website. But one thing you can do is go away from the norm.

So we were naming a data analytics company, like super boring, right? And all of the data analytics companies at the time were using, it was when the cloud was relatively new. So they all had names with cloud in them.

I called it the cloud crowd. There were so many. And the company came to us and they had one of those cloud names and it was little U and then the word Cirrus, like Cirrus cloud.

And it was difficult for people. They didn’t know how to pronounce it. The little U and then the big C was weird.

So instead of looking to clouds, which everybody else was doing, we went in the other direction and we did a deep dive into data analytics, learned what is it all about really? And it boils down to, it’s looking for patterns, right? That’s what these analysts are doing, they’re looking for patterns.

So we started looking at names of patterns and we saw the name Argyle. And Argyle, as you know, it’s a diamond pattern. So we made it about finding, it was Argyle data and it was all about finding diamonds in the data.

So is Argyle finding diamonds in the data? Was there a tagline? And if you think about Argyle, it’s super masculine pattern, right?

Like, only men really wear Argyle or traditionally. So it appealed to the target audience, which is primarily men. It’s really visual, right?

When you hear the name Argyle, you can picture the pattern in your head. An Argyle sweater, Argyle socks, and then it’s super unexpected. It’s familiar to us.

It’s memorable, but it’s so different and so unexpected. It really stands out among the cloud crowd, right? So that’s an example of one of those style of names.

Love it. Of a name that’s not a copycat versus a copycat. The R in Scratch stands for restrictive and that is where you outgrow your name.

So I think a lot of people know when they’ve outgrown their name. A classic example is in Canada, there is a store called Canadian Tire. And they sell way more than tires.

They sell trampolines, toys, tools, tropical plants, a lot of stuff that not everything begins with T. But that is a company that really outgrew their name. And in the 80s, their tagline was we sell more than tires.

Like, what a waste of a tagline. So they should have changed their name a long time ago. But that’s a name that’s restrictive.

So everybody in Canada at this point knows that Canadian Tire sells more than tires. But if they wanted to roll into the UK, into Australia, the States, they would have to spend a fortune on an ad campaign. Can you imagine this new, you’re driving down the road and you see this new big box store named Canadian Tire?

Like, but then they don’t, they sell way more than tires. Like, what a stupid name, right? So the second you start feeling like your name is restrictive to what you’re selling, it’s probably time to change it.

Then the A in Scratch stands for annoying. And annoying is when your name frustrates people. So an example is, let’s say you have a number in the middle of your name.

So your company is called Coast to Coast, but it’s spelled Coast numeral to Coast. That’s going to annoy people and frustrate them. If your name is spelled backwards, people get confused.

They think, oh, but it’s so creative, right? It is creative to spell your name backwards. Just because something’s creative doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, right?

We’ve all seen very creative art. It may be creative to wear, you know, two different colored socks. Does that make good fashion sense?

Usually not. So really keep that in mind.

You know, there’s like listeners right now going, like, checking their socks quickly just to make sure that’s not happening.

Well, engineers are really guilty of annoying, of, yeah, wearing black socks. No, annoying names because they kind of fall in love with, like the classic spelled the name backwards was Zobny, X-O-B-N-I, which was inbox spelled backwards. But nobody knew looking at it that it was inbox spelled backwards because we don’t intuitively spell things backwards.

No.

So yeah, that was a big problem.

And the way that name’s pronounced is not great, like a zombie brand is probably not.

Well, here’s the thing. It was pronounced Zobny and that’s how they were going to pronounce it. It has a little accent mark over it, Zobny.

And then Bill Gates pronounced it Zobny. So they changed the pronunciation of it because he pronounced it that way.

Yeah, there’s a lot of faults in that one.

Another category that I just don’t understand is the tech world with monitored numbers and they have all these numerals and numbers you’ll never remember. Why do they do that?

I don’t know why they do it. I think back to engineers and yeah, it makes sense to them, but I prefer when Apple did the operating systems with the big cat names, like Snow Leopard and Panther. Those are cool, they’re easy to remember.

Can you easily put them in order? No, but when a new OS comes out, we know, we hear about it. So they ran out of big cat names.

So then they went into California names, which is a smarter thing to do because there’s way more things in California. I think they’ve made a couple of mistakes. So Apple would never test a name and I think that’s great.

I’m a big believer in don’t test a name, but also they should be a little smarter. I’m a huge Apple fan, but I think the name Yosemite, unless you live in California or you’re familiar with Yosemite Sam from Bugs Bunny, you would pronounce that word Yosemite because it looks like it’s pronounced Yosemite, like Vegemite, right, Jacob? And then with Mavericks, so Mavericks is a surf spot in Northern California, but nobody, Mavericks is plural, but it sounds like it should be Maverick.

Maverick would be a product name. Mavericks is weird for a singular product name. So I think those are two mistakes they made.

And there’s so many things in California that they could have chosen from. I think they could have done a better job on those two.

I just love the simplicity of iPhone one, two, three, four. Like it’s just, you understand where you are in the lineup. It’s very clear.

It’s not very creative, but it helps me understand like what model is out.

Yeah, I mean, there’s a, yes, for whatever. Yeah, numbers make sense a lot of times. Yeah, but they’re not as fun.

You’re right.

Yep. All right. So we’re up to T, I think, or is it C?

Yes, the T in Scratch stands for tame. And you don’t want your name to be a wallflower. You want your name needs to stand out and make some noise.

Quiet names don’t get noticed. You know, there’s so much, so many things are vying for attention right now. So you can’t afford to be shy.

Even if you’re like B2B, you can still be clever and be a B2B name. We name a lot of law firms. And we did one for startups in San Francisco.

And they’re all about helping startups get their foundational documents. It’s all about the foundation. So we named it Bedrock and people knew Bedrock from the Flintstones.

And what happened is when we named it Bedrock, the primary attorney, Laila Benajamali had been using her own name and she knew people had trouble pronouncing it, spelling it, remembering it. So that’s when she said, I want a brand name instead. And she said, once she changed the name to Bedrock, they started attracting the type of clients that they wanted to work with.

It’s a cool name, cool people liked it, and that’s who they attracted. So that’s another thing that a name can do for you. It can help you, like, you know, eat my words.

We’re attracting people, the type of people that we want to work with, because they appreciate how fun our name is.

Oh, sure, sure. Okay, so then the second C in Scratch stands for Curse of Knowledge. And the Curse of Knowledge, again, an engineer thing.

Sorry to hate on the engineers, but you guys have just made things so difficult. Why did you even call it W? What’s up with the WWW?

Why couldn’t it just be WebDot? WWW is nine syllables. Web is one.

Right, I get it, World Wide Web, but it was abbreviation. No one likes abbreviations. So the curse of knowledge is where you know what it means, but you forget that nobody else knows what it means.

So it’s a good way to think of the curse of knowledge as if something’s foreign. Either it’s a foreign word, so maybe it means something in Swahili, but people don’t know Swahili, or it’s just foreign to people, like it’s back to being unfamiliar. So an example of a name with a curse of knowledge is this guy, we have, by the way, the Smiling Scratches is on our website.

And so people take it every day, and I see the names that come through. And this guy submitted a name, it was called Moran Quest. And it was for some government contracting, government consulting thing.

And he said Moran, M-O-R-A-N was the Masai word for like strength or warrior, meant something like that. And I’m like, he’s like, is it too close to moron? And I’m like, yeah, that’s a problem.

But the main problem is like, nobody speaks the Masai language. Sorry, they’re just not gonna know that. So yeah, that’s curse of knowledge, right?

And you’re not gonna be there to explain it to somebody. And then finally, the H in Scratch sounds for hard to pronounce. And we talked about that with Cricut and Crycut.

And yeah, you only want your name to be pronounced one way or you’re gonna dilute your brand.

Oh, well, it’s quite a list there. That’s a very thorough list to go through. If you can get through all of them, I’d be, it’s definitely not easy, is it?

You know what? It’s not as hard as people think. It’s not as hard as people think.

And I mean, if you look at our portfolios, you’ll see 100 examples of, hey, these names all pass the smile and scratch test. But yeah, it can be hard for people.

I was gonna say, Alexandra, do you find that as you’re crafting these names that sometimes some names score higher in some areas, if you like, and lower in other areas?

Yeah.

They might all pass, but there’s still some sort of variation in terms of the quality of the name based on the criteria that you’ve set.

Yeah, so sometimes a name won’t have legs, but it’s still a good name. But we’re always trying to go for the five factor, I guess you could call it, to have all five. But legs is one, some people are like, no, that’s okay, I don’t need it.

But sometimes it’s just such a great name. So I was having a kickoff call with someone the other day, and this is a woman that, she lives in Michigan, which is in middle America. She’s a farmer, and she’s a meat farmer.

So she raises rabbits, chickens, geese, lambs, not cows, but a lot of other animals. And she then butchers and sells at the local farmer’s market. So she wanted a name that would, that she could monetize with merchandise.

And those are our favorite kind of names, because we wanna do a very clever name that will make people smile. So the name that we came up with plays into the fact that this whole idea of wholesomeness, and it harkens back to a more innocent time, like the 1950s, where meat was more wholesome, right? Because she doesn’t, you know, she’s organic and all of that.

So if you guys are familiar with the TV show, Leave It to Beaver, which was a 1950, no, 1960s TV show, and it was this, you know, family, June and Ward Cleaver, with the two boys, Wally and Beaver, Beaver Cleaver. And June Cleaver was like the typical 50s housewife, and she wore a pearl necklace, and she was always, you know, dressed in her perfect apron. And so Mrs. Cleaver was her name.

So I quickly realized talking to this woman on the kickoff call, I’m like, I have the perfect name for you, Mrs. Cleaver. So to anybody here in the States, they would totally get that. And so that’s becoming her name.

So it’s going to be Mrs. Cleaver with the descriptor is wholesome meat, because wholesome ties into a more wholesome time. And then the fact that it’s like, you know, organic. So organic is a very, here in the States, a very like kind of West Coast, East Coast, kind of snobby thing.

But in middle America, like it’s not as important, but wholesome sounds good. And for these tourists at the market too, they’re, you know, they’re a wholesome part of the country. And then with the tagline, she’s all about, she’s very ethical and she’s all about preventing climate change.

So her tagline that I did is for caring carnivores. Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. So I did all of that. Well, on the kickoff call, I’m like, I know your name.

And then I’m like, let’s do a follow-up call, do all the other stuff. Yeah, but I’m very fast. Very fast.

Yeah, that’s very fun. I love. Hello, fellow brand builders.

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That’s brandbuildersummit.com. Now, back to the show. I had a question around getting names across the line, right?

So it’s a very subjective matter, names. So how do you actually get a name sold? You know, if you’re for our listeners who are trying to go through this naming process and they’re presenting names, like how do you get them across the line?

Well, one thing is use the smile and scratch task because that will at least help you evaluate and tell you if the name is strong or weak. And then if you are presenting to a lot of people and you need to justify why something’s a great name, go to ChatGPT sucks at coming up with names. What it’s phenomenal at is writing rationale.

And I actually did an April Fool’s joke where I, do you guys celebrate April Fool’s where you are? I mean, celebrate is a strong word, right? Yeah, we don’t like, it’s not like a bar thing, but yeah, we play April, we prank each other.

So I did this prank where I said that Elon Musk hired us to name his new baby and no one even questioned, not one person questioned if he had a baby. Cause he has like 10 or 11 kids. And I had this photo of him holding this baby.

I said it was a baby girl, but the photo is him holding a baby boy, but like, you know, no one knows when it’s a baby. And so I said that he hired us. And so I had gone on ChatGPT and I, oh, I came up with a name, which was XXchromosone.

Doesn’t that totally sound like something Elon Musk would name his daughter? Cause he loves the letter X and like double X chromosome is a girl. So I went, that’s the only part I had down.

And then I went on ChatGPT and I said, I’m playing this prank, here’s the name, Elon Musk, write the most complex detailed description of why it’s a great name, go into the linguistics of it, the science of it. Oh my God, if you go on my LinkedIn, you can see it. It’s phenomenal what it did.

I mean, just paragraph after paragraph about why it’s a great name. And it was like so high level what it wrote. So if you need help selling in a name, just go to ChatGPT and you don’t have to ask it for a complicated thing, but just say, why is this a great name?

And I’ve done it before on the call with a client where they’re like, yeah, remind me why this is a great name. I’m like, I usually just like something or I don’t like something, but I just like just put it to ChatGPT and it’s great. And we let it write all of our rationale now.

Cause it’s just very, it’s gonna see things that I might not see. So yeah, that’s a good way to sell in a name.

Scratch and smile test and then, you know, rationale. Is there anything else you’d?

Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of other criteria you can ask yourself. It depends what’s important. You know, do you want to monetize the name than not something, what’s important, right?

Do you have to have, no one’s gonna get an exact match domain anymore. But to a lot of people, it’s really important about the domain name. So like make all the criteria that matters.

And I would say another thing is just when you are going to sell in a name to other people, just get everybody on board, you know, kind of beforehand, like prime the pump, you know, let them know, okay, the names we’re gonna show you today, I’ll pass this test, you know, send it to them in advance. And that will help.

So the domain thing is very, it comes up often, like, and it can kill a lot of names. So how do you deal with this situation?

Don’t let a great name be killed by the lack of available domain names. There are 350 million domain names registered right now. So the chance of you finding an exact match domain name that isn’t taken or isn’t for sale for 100 grand is very unlikely.

So just get that idea out of your head that that’s even a possibility. A lot of what I do when I talk to clients is set expectations. Like, you’re not gonna get a one word name.

Like those don’t exist anymore. You’re not gonna get a one word domain name. So just go into it assuming that you’re going to add a modifier word.

So you’re going to have, you know, if we weren’t eatmywords.com, we could be eat my words, names, brand names, naming, branding, just get used to the fact that you’re going to add a word to your domain name. And it’s actually not a bad thing. If we were eat my words naming, for instance, it would help with our search engine optimization.

And that’s what happens when you have a modifier. No one expects you to have a pure match domain name, especially not one that people can spell. And don’t sacrifice spelling to get that butchered spelling just because you can’t.

And even with the butchered spellings, it’s just so hard to get anything. So an easy workaround is just add the domain name or add a modifier word. And you can either do it before or after the word.

So, you know, we could have like, we are eat my words, but it’s better to have it after the main name because then people won’t be confused. Like, wait, is there a name we are eat my words? So have it after.

The other thing is you can do some creative workarounds such as having… So we were naming this Gourmet Popcorn Store and the name we came up with was Pop Psychology and the domain name was taken. But we, so in psychology is hard for some people to spell.

So we use the tagline as the domain name which was Crazy for Popcorn.

That’s much more memorable, easier to type.

Exactly, it’s more memorable and it helps extend the brand. Then another thing and it makes people smile. And we didn’t do this one, but this is one of my favorites.

It is a mail order turkey company and it doesn’t have a great name. It’s Greenberg Smoked Turkeys. You know, Greenberg could be spelled two different ways, but their domain name is unforgettable.

It’s gobblegobble.com.

Awesome.

So what about a really stubborn CEO who wants a.com, is insisting on it. How do you deal with that?

We will first say, how much are you prepared to spend on a domain name and kind of set the set, like give them a reality track because people have no idea how much they got. I mean, they’re so expensive now. So I think a lot of times when we do that, they’ll back down.

Or if they’re like, no, we don’t, because often as we’ll say, what’s more important, having a good name or having an available domain? Well, the domain name. So they were like, we’re not a good fit for you because we’re never gonna acquiesce to an available domain name if the name is something like, you know, Zobny.

So it’s about setting expectations early in the process, isn’t it?

Yeah.

And positioning yourself and your methodology.

Yeah, I just did that today. I had a call with a client that before, when we named something for them, it was some autonomous surface vessels that they sell to the military. And that was kind of crowded trademark wise, but it wasn’t like today they’d need names for their software.

I’m like, yeah, this is a whole different beast. It’s so much harder. So yeah, I set the expectations and they didn’t care about the domain name because they have a company name that the software will go under.

But I just had to say, yeah, it’s probably gonna be a two word name. Nothing really predictable is going to be available. So yeah, a lot of times it is just setting expectations.

Great. And what about changing brand names? A lot of times there’s equity in the name.

When is it too late to change a name? How do you know when to change?

The time to change your name is when you feel you’ve outgrown it. And you know, it’s kind of like, think about this. Have you ever been in a relationship and you feel like you’ve outgrown it, but you stay in it too long?

It’s the same thing with a name. Like if it’s time, you just know when it’s time. Maybe there’s some confusion.

If somebody said, if I just moved to Canada and I asked someone, if somebody told me they worked at Canadian Tire and they told me like, oh, oh, your kid needs a trampoline. You should come in. I’d be like so confused.

Like, wait, what do you mean? So people start finding out pretty quickly that they’ve outgrown their name or just that their name, look, if your name has problems, you already know. I don’t even need to tell you.

If people are spelling it wrong, if they’re questioning the pronunciation or what it means, you know, then that’s time to change your name. It’s not working for you. It’s working against you.

We’ve changed many names. We have now changed two brand names that were more than a hundred years old. One was a bank named First National Bank of Syracuse.

Syracuse is a big town or a big city in New York, but it wasn’t that big city in New York. It was a tiny little town in Kansas in the middle of the country. So the name was a disconnect and they were a Maverick Bank.

They wanted a name that was more about, you know, they were all about making dreams come true. So that’s the direction we went in and we named them Dream First. It’s really different for a bank.

And then although in the UK and Australia, I think the bank, like Egg in the UK, like I’ve always loved that name. Another one, we just named some community healthcare centers and they were named Queen’s Care and they had that name forever and they didn’t want to give up the name, but they were forced to for, you know, legal reasons for something or other. And so Queen’s Care and they really, that’s the hardest thing for us to do is when someone’s being forced to change their name, very different when somebody wants to change their name.

So they’re being forced, they cannot let go, but we’re like, you’re just gonna have to let it go. You cannot use it anymore. Let’s just move on.

So they are faith based community health centers. And so we came up with a name that was really visual, evocative and pretty and the name is Grace Light. So that is their new name.

Here for me.

Wait.

We’ve talked about when it’s good to change your name, but I’ve got this circumstance, right? So I was gonna throw it on the table and see how you would attack this. So I’ve got a client at the moment who have gone through a lot of merger and acquisitions.

So they’re scaling fast, they’re in the tech space. I won’t go into any specifics, but what’s happened is, as they’ve acquired new businesses, they’ve acquired their teams and their specialisms, but also the platforms and the software, if you like, that sits underneath that. And their ultimate aim is to amalgamate it all into one beautiful system that makes sense.

But as we’re moving into that space, we’ve got a number of challenges because all these things are called different things. So I’ve literally got a workshop in a couple of weeks in Europe, where we’re going to actually start the process of actually just getting some of the members of these teams together to start mapping out inside their individual companies, what they call everything, because it’s so confusing. So we’re going to start that.

But I know that even once we’ve done that and we’ve gone through some simplification, what we’re actually looking at is a portfolio situation, where there’s an architecture of different kind of product and services, if you like, that connect underneath one umbrella brand, if you like. And I was thinking about throwing an example on the table of a brand that I think has probably been a bit like that and just what your thoughts are. So if you think of Adobe and Adobe software, you’ve got a number of names like Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, After Effects.

These are all individual apps or programs, if you like, that sit under the Adobe name. Now, I’m going to be in that kind of situation, but I’ve got this opportunity with this client to say, okay, well, let’s rationalize what we call things because at the moment, there’s that opportunities there. And unlike Adobe, like I kind of look at Adobe Suite, for example, and I see very, I guess, like, it doesn’t sort of make sense.

Why is one After Effects, two words that kind of join together, but another one is, you know, Illustrator, which is sort of one singular word. So what I’m sort of advocating for is a system that sits behind our naming strategy for new items that come in or things that are already within the portfolio. I just wondered what your thoughts were on that and whether you had any kind of thoughts for businesses or brands in similar situations.

Yeah, sure. And Adobe, so it’s funny because I see the common, and we’ve worked with Adobe, I see the common denominator in all of their names. It’s like, they’re all easy to spell and pronounce, right?

There’s no got drunk and played Scrabble names, right? So I would say that’s a pretty simple common denominator. When you’re working with all these brands that are all coming together, there might be a lot, and maybe it is that simple, but usually it’s not.

People are going to be duking it out and saying, no, go with, because this is what’s happened with us in the past is when there’s a merger, we had a company merge, it was Hudson River Healthcare, merged with Bright Point Health and some other company, and they’re like, should we make them all together, Hudson Bright? We’re like, no. And then, oh, and they insisted on keeping the logo, one of these deals.

Who knows what you’re going to find out? But if I had known this, when my salesperson bid on the job, if I had known we were going to be forced to use the logo of a sun, and we couldn’t use words with a gh sound, because we had to appeal to Spanish-speaking audiences, and they have trouble with the gh sound, so we couldn’t use the word light or bright, but we had to use the sun. Like, no, that’s like removing so many things from what we’re able to do.

But sometimes you have to figure out in advance what are all the parameters, and we ended up naming them Sun River Health, which is a really pretty name. But I would say go into it and kind of like don’t do the, what I call the amalgamated clusterfuck when, you know, people are just combining things together. Like, who’s the strongest?

Like, can they all fit under that name now? Do all the names, if all the names do work together, try to find a tagline that can tie them all together, maybe. Like that to me seems like a really easy thing to do.

Will the company have one name? Is it like a company with lots of different products?

Yeah, the company’s got a pretty strong name. So it’s more like the sub, the sub, what would you call it? The child brands that sit underneath.

And I think you’re right. I think what I’m hearing, and, you know, it’s great to hear for me. So thanks for this free advice that you’re giving out.

But hopefully it’s helping other people. What I’m hearing is, is set out that criteria, make sure you know the parameters, and make sure that that’s really, really clear. I mean, my philosophy on this, they have got some really awful names in the suite.

And, you know, a lot of them fail on the scratch stuff massively. And they know that, right? So that’s why this opportunity has come together to rethink all of it.

So all of it’s on the table. It’s going to be a fun process. It’s going to be, I definitely think I’m going to come across some of the stuff that you’ve said.

I’m already getting a sense of egos at play. And, you know, oh, that’s our name. You know, you can’t change that, you know.

But it’s all going to be considered and thought through and rationalized to fit with a strategy to position the brand and all of its assets powerfully. It’s just complicated. And I think it’s going to be fun, but yeah, definitely set out that criteria early.

Make sure that you understand the parameters. And yeah, I guess it’s a case of going for it. And for me, it’s one of those things where, just because you’ve had that name for 10 years since you founded or whatever, as you rightly say, doesn’t make it a great name.

And particularly then when you put that in a suite, right? Because now as a customer, I’m navigating around your world, right? And we just got to make it simple.

I quite liked what you said about earlier in the show about the Apple OSX kind of naming around animals, for example, or, and I just think, yeah, we just need to kind of keep it simple, keep it slick and think and just have a rationale so that when somebody else in the business goes, hey, I’m gonna create this new platform, there is some thought behind what we’re gonna actually call that and it’s not gonna be completely splintered and bizarre and confusing. So I’ll do my best and I’ll come back to you, Alexandra, and tell you where I got to eventually.

So with like animal names, planet names, Greek god names, like those have all been done. So a strategy that I like is one that Ford uses where I don’t know if they’re still doing it, but all of their cars start with F, Fiesta, Fairmont, Futura, there’s lots and lots. So that’s a really simple strategy, just using a letter of the alphabet.

Another is, and don’t use the word F, use the letter F, F there’s very, which is crazy, but I get it with Ford, but the letter S, and the S is in supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and the letter C, as in copycat, those letters have more words associated with them than anything else, and then go obscure, you know? Go obscure, don’t go predictable, especially in software, it’s just, it’s all been done. Or maybe it’s all after, you know, colors, or, you know, go for some obscure colors, I don’t know.

But get people to agree, like, if people are going to be trying to brainstorming, be brainstorming on the fly, that’s going to be really, really hard. I would just tell people, let’s not make this a brainstorming meeting, let’s make this a strategy meeting. I mean, you’re a strategist.

Yeah, yeah, because once, because everybody fancies themself as being a really good at coming up with names, and people don’t, no one’s ever learned how to do this in school really, or yeah, they don’t do it every day so that they don’t have the knowledge. But I did want to tell you another strategy is, do you guys have Ben and Jerry’s ice cream there? Okay, so you know, Ben and Jerry’s, so Ben and Jerry’s just named after two guys, not a clever creative name at all, but how they’ve made everything we have together is with their flavor names are all really fun.

So, you know, there’s Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, Liz Lemon. So that’s how they’ve been able to have a theme. So if you can just find a theme that you can work with, that will really help.

Yeah, brilliant. Find a theme, folks, for your suite of names in your portfolio. Love it.

I also thought of another technique, you know, Apple, they use the like iWatch and iPad and, you know, have the something before it, but it’s not perfect because, you know, the AirPods, they have as a, they don’t have iPods, I guess, because it’s already an iPod. So that kind of like broke that system.

The Watch is alright, it’s not iWatch.

Yeah, exactly.

It’s iPod Watch. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Not perfect, but, you know, it’s another way of doing things.

And then that was so copycatted, right? There was iEditing. It was.

Yeah, there was.

But it annoys me, right? Like that description, what you just said there, Jacob, really annoys me. Like, it’s like, yeah, iPad, iPhone, all of that works.

And then suddenly we go Apple Watch. Like, no, like that’s exactly what you’re saying, Alexandra, about legs. It’s like, for some reason, that wasn’t a thing.

Maybe a legal reason or something like that. But like, it frustrates me as a strategist looking at that, that doesn’t fit the beautiful criteria of what’s gone before. So, you know, and I think that rationale, you kind of, you need to have that to have alignment and progression as a business scales.

So yeah, you know, it’s hard, clearly, if Apple can’t do it, you know, it’s a tough one. But I think we should try.

Yeah, that’s interesting about, I never thought about Apple Watch and iWatch. And I imagine when they were first using the i, they must have brainstormed what products could we, you know, looking into their crystal ball, what products could we possibly introduce? And a watch is pretty, I mean, not like any of us would know the technology that it would be able to do, but still, like, oh, it could, you know, an iCar, like, you know, you just look around, like, yeah.

So I don’t know how they didn’t get that name.

I know, right? And like the latest like 3D virtual reality goggles that they have is called like Vision Pro. It’s like, but like, why wouldn’t you call that iVision or, yeah, I don’t know, iGoggle or whatever.

I don’t know, whatever. It’s like, it’s like they sort of, it sounds to me like there’s been a strategy to actually to break from the i whatever. And so the new tech that’s coming out has changed that, you know, from that.

But hey, it’s one of those things. And it frustrates me because it’s such, that was such a distinctive thing, rightly or wrongly, it was very distinctive in the market to call it that. And you knew immediately it was Apple.

So yeah, interesting, interesting to ponder.

So Alexandra, we talked about brainstorming. What are some other techniques you use to come up with a great name or our listeners could use?

One that I like a lot is to go to stock photo libraries or just Google images and type in words that will just stimulate ideas. So, you know, a picture says a thousand words. So that’s something you can do, just brainstorm, looking at pictures, type in some keywords.

If you were naming something fast, you could type in, you know, things that are fast, you know, fast and are quick. And it’s going to show you, you know, somebody running and it’s going to show you a, you know, a Puma. Maybe that’s where the name Puma came from.

So things like that. So just look at pictures. And also when you’re looking at the pictures, don’t say them in your head, say them out loud, because well, one, it’s going to wake up your brain more.

And two, you’ll be able to hear if something doesn’t sound right. So sometimes like if I was looking at a bird flying and I thought sores, you know, but then when I say sores out loud, it’s like, oh, that sounds like it could be like a wound, you know, sore. So that’s why it’s important to say things out loud too.

No one wants a sore.

So looking at visual images and what other techniques do you use?

I use rhyming dictionaries all the time. So I talked about gringo lingo. I mean, that came out of my own head, but yeah, rhyming dictionaries and then go deep.

So I was naming this blow dry bar and the client wanted a name that was whimsical yet sophisticated, hardest thing to do, hardest thing to do, but we love a challenge. So I was looking up the word blow and everything that rhymed with it. And I saw the word chateau and that was deep, right?

Chateau blow and that’s like, this is a great name. It’s whimsical and sophisticated. So yeah, that’s just a great place to look for ideas.

And AI, you mentioned it before, not a big fan of creating names. Personally, I find it very useful for combining things like themes and so forth. So do you use it as part of your brainstorming?

Yes, we’ll use it if we’re looking for something really specific. So if the client has a theme of tech, we’ll look at, give us a list of things in Texas. So there it’s very helpful.

But where, and then with the rationale, as I mentioned, or just kickstarting or brainstorming and like, give me a bunch of words that start with the letter M. Interesting words that start with the letter M. That’s where it’s great.

But if you try to say like, come up with a name for a Spanish language goal. There’s no way it’s coming up with gringo lingo. It does not, ChatGPT does not do clever at all.

It’s like the worst, like the sense of humor is so over the top, dad joke, grown, like, oh my God, there’s like, I hate all the, it’s like ridiculously silly bad puns or just like jokey. It’s like they’re greater humor, right? It’s that.

So like I was naming a travel game company for families and kids. And one of the names I came up with was Tripopotamus, like Hippopotamus. It’s not going to come up with that.

You know, fi, fi, fo, fun, fi, fi, fo, fam. It’s just not. And those, I just, those, some of those are just in my head, you know, or I’m just playing around with the word family, like fam.

Okay, what’s fam? Close to fun. You know, so it’s just kind of fooling around.

But Ciao GPT can write tag lines, I will give it that. But it’s also great for, I was trying to come up with 800 numbers for, you know, toll free numbers for one of my clients that wanted an easy to remember number. So I asked it come up with four, two, three, four and five letter words around, it was all around wealth.

So it gave me a bunch of words and then I just put them together. And then another time, I was trying to come up with, I do these power hour consulting calls. Well, I’ll spend an hour with you on the phone.

And I’m just like a machine. And this is where ChatGPT has been helpful to me. So I was trying to come up with a tagline.

So the woman, her company name was, it was wealth management. And her target audience was Christian women. So she had the name Full Bloom Financial.

So I put into ChatGPT, give me a list of words that are common to both the theme of religion and wealth and growth. It came up with some words, not all of them were great, but I saw the word abundance. And I’m like, oh, I love the word abundance.

That works for both. And then just in my head, I’m like, live in abundance, right? And so, yeah, it’s helpful for doing like, it would have taken me a really long time on my own to find those words.

And this is where it can be super helpful. But you have to know how to prompt it.

What does come down to it is prompts, yeah, the input. So on the topic of AI, it kind of leads into the future. Like what do you see as the future of brand naming?

Well, I think more and more names are going to be taken because of all the AI companies that are now out there. I mean, we have named a number of AI companies now. But more and more names are going to be so taken.

But also, I think like AI naming is like the lowest common denominator. And so I’m sad that people are going in that direction. But I feel like it’s a long ways off from doing something.

It’s not coming up with a Baconator. Yeah, it’s just not coming up with Mrs. Cleaver for a meat farm.

It lacks the cleverness.

It really does.

So have you noticed any other trends in naming recently?

Yeah, I have. With domain names, I saw this today with a designer actually. His domain name wasn’t a.com.

It was a.studio. So I think people are more comfortable with the top level domain names is what those are called. They don’t work for everyone.

What I would caution you against, the studio is fine because it’s a real word that we know where it gets to be problematic is when there are these country codes. So, for instance, .io, do either of you guys know what.io stands for? It’s no one does.

This is like my party tricks. Indian Ocean Territories. Yeah, it does.

It does. And.me. Oh, God.

No, I’m going to forget this one.

Middle East.

No, no, that’s a great guess. No, it’s Montenegro.

Serious, I’ve got a.me, Mr. Matt Davies.me. There we are. So well, it’s never done me any harm.

Just putting it out there.

Well, people when people use something like.io. So I’ll give you here’s like what can happen. I was at TechCrunch and I saw on a sign card.io and I didn’t know if the company name was card and that was just their domain name.io.

If it was pronounced card, card.io or cardio because you know how sometimes with like the right.

So that’s where people get in trouble.

Cardio, I think would be fun but then, yeah, people get super mixed up on the dots. But yeah, I’m seeing more and more people using because just because the domain names are taken but.com will always be king.

Yeah. I’ve tried to pitch other top level domains and people, they say in our area, people don’t recognize that so we can’t use it. So it often comes down to like, who the audience is and how recognized it is.

I think that’s changing though. I think I think, you know, as time goes on, as you say, Alexandra, like we’re all going to have to get more comfortable with, you know, diverse ways of kind of locating stuff. It’s just going to evolve I think.

But yeah, amazing. Well, what a nightmare it is, you know, with the complexities that are out there to keep coming up with unique stuff. I just, you know, there’s just such a volume that’s continually growing.

I’d love to know and, you know, how many domain names are being registered, like, and how fast that’s growing into. I think, you know, there’s probably some stats out there for that. But I bet it’s, you know, millions a year, you know, it’s just constantly growing.

So, we’ve got to think outside the box in relation to that stuff.

Yeah, and what’s so crazy, so I did a podcast last week with a guy that used to be a domain reseller and he told me there’s 350 million in existence right now. And yeah, they’re just getting harder and harder to find. But it’s funny, here in the States, our toll free numbers used to all be 800 numbers.

And then they became 877 and 888 and 866. And you know what, nobody cared. I think in the beginning, it might have been a little like, I don’t know, but nobody cared.

Just like with our phone numbers now, no one cares what your area code is. People have moved on from that, but it’s something about that.com. People are just holding on to it.

It’s actually, it’s both that it’s kind of a double edged sword for me. It’s good because a lot of people think the domain name is really important. So they’ll hire us to help them find one.

But then it’s also if people are like, no, we have to have an exact match. I’m like, yeah, we’re not going to do that for you. And no naming firm will.

There’s very few that will guarantee that it’s too hard.

Thank you, Alexandra. So we’re going to wrap this up. Is there anything else you’d love to share?

Yeah, I did want to say one more thing about name changes. So if you are thinking about changing your name and you’re like, people won’t be able to find me, that might have been true 30 years ago. But it’s never been easier for people to find you.

You do a website redirect. You have an email of your, you have your customers’ emails. You send them a big email blast, right?

So you’ve got the newsletters, the social media. There’s so many different ways for people to find you now. Your Instagram, right?

All of that. So I know someone who recently, this guy’s a paintless dent repairer for cars. And I just, I came up with the best.

And this is one that could just pop into my head. Ding, ding, ding. That’s the name, ding, ding, ding dent repair.

And he just changed his Instagram. Like he just changed it and redirected. So there you go.

Wow.

Well, thank you for sharing your knowledge. Where can people connect with you?

eatmywords.com or follow me on LinkedIn or connect with me on LinkedIn and tell me that, tell me that you saw me here on the podcast or heard me here. And don’t forget to give this podcast an awesome rating. If you haven’t already.

Five star rating for JUST Branding.

Very nice, good books. Thanks Alexandra. Thank you so much.

It was a pleasure.

My pleasure.

Thanks for coming on. I would also just sort of add at the end, don’t forget Alexandra’s book, Hello, My Name Is Awesome. I think at least I know in the UK you can get that through Amazon and probably other major retailers.

Yeah, this is the book. Yeah. All right.

Thank you.

Thanks Alexandra.

Yeah.

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