Skip to main content

Choosing the Right Name: Why It Matters More Than You Think

In the last few years, there’s been a huge boom in new businesses. In 2022 alone, about 150 million new businesses popped up around the world, according to the World Bank. And with new businesses come even more new products and services. Each of these needs a name, and that’s where things get tricky.

YouTube video

The Common Trap

When it comes to naming, people often go for what’s easy or familiar. This might be the business owner, a group of people at the company, or even through a fun contest among employees. They usually pick names that describe what the product or service does. Sounds sensible, right? You’d think a name that tells you exactly what you’re getting is a good idea.

But here’s the catch: these straightforward, descriptive names often end up being the most forgettable. They blend into the background because they’re just like everyone else’s. They’re too safe and don’t stand out.

Making a Name Stick

What a good name really needs to do is grab people’s attention. It should cut through all the noise out there and stick in your mind. Think about it like peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth – it’s hard to forget!

Take some examples from the past. There was a search engine called Infoseek. Great name, right? It tells you what it does. But then Google came along, and Infoseek was history. There was also a bookstore chain called Book Stop. Again, the name tells you what it is. But then Amazon arrived on the scene.

Sure, Google and Amazon didn’t just win because of their names. They had great strategies and execution. But their unique names were part of their success.

Building Trust in a Digital World

There’s another big issue nowadays: trust. With all the fake stuff online, like deep fakes that make it look like politicians or celebrities are saying things they never did, trust is hard to come by. If your name is just another “me too” that sounds like all the rest, how will people remember or trust your brand?

Instead of going for the obvious, like calling a new, sweet tomato “Sweet Tomato,” why not try something different? Like “Cherubs,” which was a huge hit and made a big splash in the produce world. Or instead of “Pure Vitamin,” go for “True You” to show it’s about real, natural ingredients.

And for something techy, instead of a name that just says what it does, how about something like “Solid Edge”? It suggests giving engineers an edge in their work and plays on the idea of working with solid materials.

Your Turn

So, when you’re picking a name for your next big thing, skip the boring, descriptive stuff. Go for something that’ll make people take notice, something that’ll stick in their minds. It’s not just about having a good name; it’s about standing out, building trust, and making your brand memorable in a world full of noise.


Mike Carr (00:03): 

Today, I have a topic for you that’s a bit embarrassing, but also something that I think you’re going to find interesting. AI can now do a better job at creating names than the best naming consultants, and that’s a bit scary, and that’s also a bit embarrassing. I consider myself and our firm that’s been doing this for almost 40 years, pretty darn good at coming up with names, but we’ve been experimenting with AI every day. We play with Chat, EPT and Gemini and Claude and Pie, and the list goes on and on. Folks, they can come up with better names than I can. They can understand the nuances. They can create the story because stories about following templates, right? There may be five, six, perhaps a dozen different basic forms to follow and building stories. You have the protagonist, you have the antagonist, et cetera, et cetera. 


AI can learn all that stuff. AI can craft a story around a name to bring it alive. It can connect the dots in new ways. So anyone that’s in our business that says, I can create a better name than ai, and most of my competitors, most of my colleagues still say that I think they’re wrong, or at least they’re going to be wrong very soon, especially when Chat GT Five comes out in the next month or two. Now at, so by Southwest last week, we looked at some of the agents that sit on top of ai, and one of the things that was fascinating and that you guys should probably be aware of if you aren’t already, is what’s called rag RAG Rag. What is that ridiculous name, right? So I said, okay, tell me a little bit more about Rag Retrieval Augmented Generation. That’s what RAG stands for. 


Retrieval Augmented Generation. Well, that makes it a lot clearer, right? What is that? Basically what it is, is it’s a way to overcome the shortcomings with the chat, GPTs, et cetera, whose data is not current, right? Chat PT for a while was using data built on everything up through a year ago, but it didn’t have the most recent months. So what RAG does is it goes out on the internet and it basically scrapes looks across the internet for the most current timely data information stories on the subject at hand, right? So if you’re creating a name and it needs to be very modern and very hip and very with it, and aware of all the trends and the nuances that are going on, having RAG as part of your overall solution is really critical and something that we are looking at and that you probably should take a look at too. Now, a couple folks that I encourage you 


To follow in this space that I follow every day are Shelly Palmer. Shelly Palmer, his last name is P-A-L-M-E-R, and Paul Roter, and Paul’s last name is R-O-E-T-Z-E-R. These two guys are really good, and there’s some gals out there too that really get this, and they explain it in a way that I can understand it and it makes sense to me without diving too deep into all the details. And then I also follow Mark Schafer, and he’s more of a marketing branding person than he is an AI expert, although he’s very into AI as well. And Mark took great exception. I talked last week about this presentation at South by Southwest, and Mark just hated this title, and he even did a podcast on this. The title was AI isn’t going to take your job. AI isn’t going to take your job, but someone who knows AI will, and Mark’s exception to this is it implies that, Hey, if you know ai, if you know how to use ai, then your job’s fine. 


He said, that’s not the case. And he’s right. If you are a customer service rep and you’re really accomplished and professional skill to taking those customer service calls, and now you know how to use AI to maybe make you even more productive and do some research, does that mean your job is safe? No. I mean, companies have already announced in the press that they’re cutting hundreds if not thousands, if customer service jobs, because AI can across the board, do a better job, less expensively and less time, and create less angst and better customer interaction results. That job’s going away. Fine. If you’re a radiologist, right? You went through med school, you’re trained in how to review X-ray or CT scans, MRIs, whatever. Now AI can do that and find things that maybe you couldn’t find. Well, there aren’t going to be a need for many radiologists. 


And so some radiologists still needed to review the AI results and make sure that there’s an agreement there. But if now all of a sudden a radiologist can be twice as efficient or scan look at five times as many scans a day because of ai, you just aren’t going to need as many radiologists. And this is the same in creative spaces like naming, same in writing. And so there is seismic shift going on, and anyone that says, I can always do it better than AI isn’t being real. I think there’s this false confidence that until you start experimenting and playing with these things, you’re not going to realize how good they are and how much better in some cases they can be than even you. So Mark’s conclusion is, and Shelly Palmer also had this sort of 


Same conclusion, is there’s still this need for humanity. There’s still this need for this human connection. And Shelly’s comment I thought was really a good one. Generative AI is a skills amplifier, not a skills democratizer. When he meant by that was, if you’re really good at your job already and you know how to use ai, you’re going to be even better. If you’re average at your job, AI isn’t going to make you incredible, right? That you have to have a certain skillset already. So in my words, what I believe the opportunity is, and the reason that I’m so optimistic and positive about AI is if you have domain expertise, we are experts in naming. We’ve been doing it for almost 40 years. We have domain expertise in that field. I’ve personally worked on thousands of these projects for all kinds of clients. I can then use AI to come up, yes, with better names than I can come up with on my own, but because of my domain expertise, I can then maybe wordsmith those names even more. 


Or I even can be astonished at something AI comes up with, and then craft it and combine it in such a way with the right story, understanding the client’s strategy and their goals to really up my game and give our clients a much better solution. That’s what I think the opportunity is for each of us become expert in ai, stick with those areas that we have domain expertise, we have real knowledge that we can add value, which then allows us to use AI in the most appropriate ways to come back with even better results for ourself, for our clients, and hopefully for the world. So have fun and move forward with ai. 

Don't miss any blog posts!

Sign up to be notified of new content on our site.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.