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Namestorm

A collaborative approach to naming.
Naming can be a gnarly businessーa grueling process that can easily drag on for months and bring a copywriter to the point where all words she thought she knew start to devolve into meaningless mouth sounds. I've been tasked with naming a wide range of products over the yearsーcolors and clothes for Everlane, a camera line for Nest. Sometimes it was quick and painless. More often than not, it was hellish.

Then,
in 2017, I started a job at a stealth startup called Krypton. When I walked in on my first day, the CEO Shishir Mehrotra said, "Welcome to Krypton, your first job is to rename Krypton." Spoiler alert, that company is Coda (the thing you're on right now). And to facilitate the process, we built a doc.

Hopefully it can provide some structure and sanity to your naming process, and help you find that needle in the haystack.


One doc, and one doc only.

Before Coda, when I named something, there would inevitably be a trail of different google docsーone doc for myself and different permutations of shortlists for each review. And when someone would inevitably ask "have you thought about calling it TKobvious thing?" You'd say yes and then fumble around multiple docs, commanding-F to make sure. With Coda, you can keep all your words in one big table, with different views for each stakeholder, meeting, and shortlist. Much simpler. And much more scalable.

Open up the namestorm.

Assemble a task force of stakeholders and invite them to participate in the generating process. People usually say yes, because it "sounds fun." And it is kinda.

Sometimes participation can be a 30-minute meeting. In the case of naming Coda, we did a week of guided brainstormingーwith a theme for each day and time to free associate after.

Invite participation through Slack.
Depending on how democratic your culture and how big your company, it could be worth creating a slack channel and hooking it up to a table via Zapier.

The 1/10th rule.

Once all the names are submitted in the big table, ask people to go through and mark their favorites. The rule of thumb is to cull your list down to 1/10th of its previous size.

All names
3
Name
Description
Author
Shortlist
Upvotes
Shortlisters
Dupe?
1
Coda
A doc backwards. A coda to the industry of traditional documents and spreadsheets.
LT
1
1
LT
1
2
k
Very controversial to do one letter. The thing we say when we’re ready to work.
LT
1
1
LT
1
3
Karbon
Variant of Carbon but with the Krypton K for kontinuity
LT
0
0
1
4
Carbon
Conceptually aligned, preserves the hard “K” sound
LT
0
0
1
There are no rows in this table
My shortlist
3
Name
Author
Shortlist
Upvotes
Shortlisters
Dupe?
No results from filter

Make it Madlibs!

My friend and former boss, the irrepressible Dina Lovinsky, ingrained in me the practice of stress-testing in a sentence. You want sentences that approximate various ways you might talk about the unnamed product. (What will the verb be, how does it feel with an article, with no article, how does it read in context of the other products, etc).


Stress test any name:
Coda

The magic of
Coda
starts with a table.
When you connect your
Coda doc
to the apps you use every day, your team can finally have everything in one place.
Coda
was founded with an observation.




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