“Naming the band is the fucking hardest part.”
– Dave Grohl
(So is naming the website or the product or the event or the series or the newsletter. Etc etc etc.)
Naming the vital pieces is a point where lots of brilliant endeavours get well and truly stuck.
- You can’t think of one single possible name.
- You come up with fifty possibilities, but they all suck.
- You came up with the perfect name, but it’s taken, and now your brain is in vapour lock and refuses to think of any other ideas.
The worstest part is that there’s usually a point where you can’t make any further progress without the name. You can’t register the domain name, or get the designer started, or submit the grant application, or create the YouTube channel, until you have a name for this damn thing! AGHHHHH…
Chill, lovely. Here’s how to find a kickass name.
When you find the right name, how will you know?
Will you start laughing? Will you go very quiet? Does the right name feel light or solid, smooth or prickly? Does it need to be easy and unambiguous to spell? Do people need to be able to say it over the phone?
If you’re struggling with this, think about any rejected names you’ve thought of. Why didn’t they quite work? What was missing?
Very often, this is one of the most important questions I ask. If you don’t know where you want to end up, it’s really goddamn hard to get there.
What’s your most important message?
Names are, generally speaking, short. (Sure, if you’re Rob Zombie you can name a song “El Phantasmo and the Chicken Run Blast-O-Rama”, but that’s the brilliant exception rather than the rule.)
Since you have to keep it short, you have to be completely, utterly brutal in trimming out everything but the core of your message. You only get to communicate one concept, and you have to choose which one it is.
Oh no, you say. But my idea is complicated and nuanced and has all these Totally Important Details and things!
See, this is why you’re stuck on a name. You have to reduce it and keep reducing it until you get down to the core.
You know you’ve gotten there when you can’t take out any word without changing the meaning.
The core cannot possibly express all of the amazingness smooshed into your biz. Accept this. It can’t, and it honestly doesn’t need to. It just needs to provide a clue to the right people that your biz is worth learning a wee bit more about. (Which might mean clicking on a link, or watching a video, or opening your brochure, or listening to the podcast, or whatever. The name is a breadcrumb, leading to your amazingness.)
So you have to get meaningfully simple. What is the one thing you most wanna communicate? Make a name based on that.
Evocative or descriptive?
Imagine a nice long continuum, with 100% Descriptive at one end and 100% Evocative at the other.
The Descriptive end has names like South Side Clown Supplies, The Vienna Boys Choir, The Wilderness Society. Names that tell you quite specifically what they represent, what you can expect.
The Evocative end has names like Spoonflower, Mudhoney, Illuminati. They don’t tell you what do, they tell you how they feel.
Whereabouts on the continuum do you want your name to live? At one end? Somewhere in the middle?
There are absolutely no wrong answers here. It depends entirely on you and what you want to be saying with your biz. But coming up with a name is much, much easier when you know where you want to be on that spectrum – and even more importantly, where you don’t.
Throw the net wide!
Play with as many possible ideas within your new beautiful constraints. Plunder the thesaurus. Come up with metaphors and similes (“If your Pursuit was a person, what would their favourite song be?”) Get lateral and literal and everything in between. Reject nothing, explore anything, and start to follow the resonances.
And then, refine. Find powerful words. Use tension and juxtaposition. Make your ideas fight in a cage match.
Keep going until one of three things happens:
2. You have a name that you like, but you’re not 100% sure it’s the right one yet. You want to try it out for a few days and see if it’s the one.
3. You have a bunch of ideas, and you want to let your subconscious play with them for a bit.
Sometimes you go through a rinse and repeat before the right name appears.
Sometimes you think you’ve got it and then the Absolutely Perfect Name pops into your brain at 3am.
Sometimes the right name is one you just liked at first, but it just kept growing on you.
But one way or the other, you will end up with a kickass name for your kickass thing.
Do you want some help?
The Kickass Naming Service and I are standing by to assist!
First, click that shiny button down below. It’ll take you to PayPal so you can securely and safely pay. (If you don’t have a PayPal account, no worries! You can still use your bank account or credit card.)
Soon after, you’ll receive an automatic email from me with:
- a link to my scheduler
- a lovely list of questions to ponder before our session (hint: Some of them are listed above.)
You can email me with your replies to the questions, or just think about them before we meet. Whatever works for you.
And then, we’ll have an hour-long Skype call to dig and play and push and combine until we either:
- Find the perfect name
- Fill your brain with options and let it loose for a few days.
If you need more input, we’ll back-and-forth via email a few times. If you’re really stuck, we’ll meet up on Skype again. (It’s rare, but it does happen.)
And luckily, I always record my Skype calls and I’ll send the recording to you via Dropbox when we’re done. Because you will say so many smart things that you’ll want to go back to later, I promise.
So there you’ll be, with a kickass name that you can finally take to the screenprinter/website/tender/YouTube channel/whatever, plus an hour of brilliant insight into your work, plus the incredible goddamn relief of not having to worry about the name any more. Huzzah!
How much does the Kickass Naming Service cost?
It comes in two flavours, lovely.
First, there’s the standard version, which costs $US180.
There’s also the Committee option, for people who need to get the buy-in of others (the board, their sister, the band, whatevs) before they can sign off on the name. The Committee option includes an extra half hour of Skype time after you’ve gotten feedback, to tweak and refine and change as you need. It costs $270.
Are you ready to find a kickass name for your kickass thing? Choose the option that suits you and let’s get started!
Still not 100% convinced? Here’s what some of my wonderful clients had to say about the Kickass Naming Service.
Tricia Karp from SpokenYou.com
Interestingly, this was one of the times when I didn’t end up naming anything at all…
In just one hour over Skype with Catherine, we ditched an old business that didn’t get me fired up, and poured some magic over my new business that does. Catherine is sharp, fast, and cuts to the core with warmth and an infectious sense of fun. She knows her stuff. Her brand of magnificence is just what I needed to keep me high and happening. Something tells me I’ve found my marketing maven. I’ll be back for more. For sure.
…and she has.
Terry from ADDConsults.com
Terry and I talked about her business, her services, why her marketing wasn’t converting, AND three taglines in the space of just over an hour. Her summary?
How can I thank you? You’ve allowed me to “come out of the box” and be fearless. My head is spinning with all the possibilities. Life is short, and it’s time to jump in. Hell. If it doesn’t work, I can always become more conservative. But for now, I feel like flying.
THANK YOU. You are amazing!
Ming-Zhu Hii from ThePublicStudio.com
You have to do your art. The gorgeous Ming-Zhu and I talked about how to summarise the urgency and importance of the work she’s doing to help free up the inner artist in her audience.
She described it like this:
You have rocked every single fricken particle of my business!!!
Be prepared to have your mind blown, yo heart filled & life competely changed for the total-and-utter-awesome.
I don’t know how to say this w/out sounding like a d’bag but it was THE most spiritual biznizz experience EVAH.
I love my job.
Linda Eaves from DontGoHomeWithHim.com
We actually built an entire new business through naming it. Here’s Linda’s description:
Best money ever spent. Since I booked time with Catherine for a kick ass naming session I’m beyond excited!
In an hour I was transformed from aspiring schizophrenic – because I seemed to have so many interests, to finding the exquisite silver tie that binds them all together. Why didn’t I see it before?
For the first time in two years (the beginning of my online entrepreneurial round the world trip) I know THE why that will serve my customers well and keep me inspired and grounded on all my projects.
Fresh, on-target illustration for fun people – that was a tagline for the ever-delightful Sparky Firepants as he took his website in a new direction.
He then proclaimed on Twitter: “You are whip-smart, insightful, and fantastic. 45 minutes on the phone saved me weeks of noodling about.” Why thank you!
Sinclair from SelfActivator.com
Ooh, and after a kick-ass chat with Sinclair from Self Activator, she emailed me a testimonial. (I didn’t even ask. She’s so sweet.)
Catherine is all kinds of genius, and has the gift of simplifying difficult concepts to create great results.
This tagline service of hers is no exception. I’ve been to tagline school (not kidding – it was expensive). I know all the rules, and Catherine’s taglines meet those criteria and excel past them.
Generating taglines is a mysterious business, but not with the divine Ms. Caine. No hoopla, no mystery, just BAM. Tagline you love. She gets it because she listens well, and she keeps it simple. Thank God for her.
Now my only challenge is updating the visual aspects of my site so they’re worthy of implementing my new tagline!
(Isn’t she wonderful?)
Iain from TenMoreClients.com
Iain and I chat very regularly about our businesses and mutual love of Baldur’s Gate, and I worked with him to name two things:
Why is my networking NOT working? – his (awesome) free course about how to do networking well.
Attract your ideal clients through marketing and self-development – the tagline for the Ten More Clients website. I really loved this one, because until we went through the tagline process Iain hadn’t brought the element of self-development into the website at all, even though it was very important to him personally and in the work he does with his clients. The lightbulb was audible when I suggested we incorporate that into his tagline.
LaVonne from The Complete Flake
The Stuckbuster Sessions – LaVonne’s energising productivity sessions for readers of The Complete Flake. She was 90% of the way toward having the answer herself – her first suggestion was BlockBusters, which didn’t quite work because of the association with the video rental chain – she just needed help in finding an alternative that worked. The alliteration was a pleasant bonus.
Mary from Prison of Should
During a consulting call, Mary and I were talking about a new website she wanted to start. The purpose was to help people break out of conformity and be their bestest selves, and I suggested PrisonofShould.com as a name. Mary laughed for five straight minutes, and the ideas starting bursting out of her. Finding that metaphor gave her website a new structure and focus and power.
It’s time to sing it out loud!
Are you ready to have an energising conversation about your thing and come out with clarity and a name? Choose the option that suits you and let’s get started!