Here is a collection of 186 code names with explanations from companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Canonical, Red Hat, Adobe, Mozilla, Automatic and more.
ASSOCIATIONS + SLOGANS SCORE
Let’s say you’ve got two metaphorical names under consideration for your new computer company, Apple and Strawberry. Both names meet your baseline brand positioning criteria:
Simple, warm, human, approachable, organic, disruptive.
Half your team champions Apple and the other half love the name Strawberry. It’s pointed out that the names couldn’t be more similar – they are both red fruits. So why not flip a coin and move on? The Chief Obfuscation Officer calls for a month of testing, reliably in the unreliable form of crowdsourcing or focus groups.
At which point you become the hero by jumping up and shouting, “I demand an A.S.S. test!”
A test that takes minutes to complete.
When leading name contenders are locked in a battle, tallying up the number of associations each have in our collective consciousness – in stories, legends, idioms, songs, culture, history, mythology, etc, tells you how emotionally connected people are to them. The more the better.
And it reveals what each brings to the table for marketing, branding and advertising campaigns.
Garden of Eden (apple w/ bite logo)
Issac Newton (product name)
The Tree of Life
McIntosh (product names McIntosh, eMac, iMac, Power Mac, MacBook, Mac Mini)
One smart apple
A bad apple
Easy as apple pie
An apple a day
Apple of my eye
Apples and oranges
How ’bout them apples?
Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
Upset the applecart
Sometimes the positioning of the name your looking for is simply a single big idea – an iconic, definitive name that captures the imagination.
This was the case for a B2B software startup we named, so the first and winning tactic was to find a name that had the most cultural connections that were really big ideas. The clear winner was Seven:
Seven wonders of the world.
Seven musical notes.
Seven days a week.
Seven deadly sins.
Seven colors of the rainbow.
Seven years of bad luck.
Seven visible planets.
On the seventh day god rested.
Lucky number seven.
Of course there are many more, but you get the idea. Before we presented Seven to our client, we needed to determine if Seven could possibly be trademarked around the world, given the 700,000+ trademarked software names globally. We came up with a strategy, and Seven is trademarked worldwide. The ability to legally finesse a name like Seven is critical, because naming is not simply about finding the best name for the job, it’s about finding the best name for the job that you can legally use.
Apple vs. Strawberry isn’t a fair fight. But it’s not always so lopsided. If the A.S. portion of the test doesn’t produce a winner, move on to Slogans. Put two names side by side and see which inspires the most taglines that play off the name.
Of course none of the taglines anyone can remember actually play off the company name, they’re too expected and make the name one dimensional. Imagine, “Virgin, A Brand New Experience” or “Apple, Easy as Pie”. Deadly.
But the exercise does reveal the power, connectivity and relevance of an unexpected name.
In this example, let’s say we’re naming a creative agency and a leading name contender is:
Igor. Bringing Your Vision To Life.
Igor. Get Over The Hump.
Igor. A Few Spare Parts and a Good Storm.
Igor. Throw The Switch.
Igor. A Moveable Beast.
Igor. Own Your Shadow.
Igor. No Job Too Horrifying.
Igor. The Other White Meat.
Igor. Never Say Die.
Igor. A Good Brain Is Hard To Find.
Igor. Better Living Through Science.
Igor. Building The Perfect Beast.
BOTTOMLINE: The number of ASSOCIATIONS or SLOGANS that potential metaphorical brand names generate tells you how emotionally connective each name is and how much branding, marketing & advertising ammunition they contain.