Ideas

What's in a name?

One of the hardest things about developing any new idea is choosing an appropriate name.

It's hard enough to come up with something clever to encapsulate your concept in the first place, much less to reverse engineer one from the 32 .com domains left unregistered in the world.

Incidentally, if you've ever wondered what a 'creative strategist' actually does, a disproportionate amount of my time is taken up by coming up with cool names for stuff, then being heartbroken in the realisation that someone else has registered that domain name for no other reason than to 'squat' on it until that very moment. I know very few business people who are willing to 'invest' in their business or new project by reaching out to an enterprising 16 year old on the other side of the globe to find an appropriate price for a .com... But that's a tale for another time.

So you've found a name you like, and by some digital miracle it's still available.

Congratulations - Now people know exactly where to direct their love and/or deep hatred for your new idea.

As someone who gets paid to come up with ideas for a living, I am constantly fighting myself to not get too attached or excited about a particular name or idea. It's usually taken, or means something in German you really, really don't want to be associated with. Additionally, as an avid student of lean start up principles, I passionately believe in boiling down my idea into it's simplest form and getting it in front of an audience as soon as possible.

And herein lies the paradox of concept development in the age of real time communication.

Deliberate too long over potential names, ad agencies or development platforms and you'll no doubt miss your big  opportunity. But when the time comes to launch, you better be ready to back yourself all the way - no matter what happens.

Just a few short months ago, I received an email from Kickstarter saying they were preparing to launch in Australia - at last!

Weighing up between a few ideas to launch on the crowdsourcing site was pretty easy, as my friend Mike Halligan and I had already developed a framework for just such a purpose, called Weigh Up Your Startup. But to be honest, I already knew exactly what I wanted to do... So I handed in my notice as Creative Director at the best place I've ever worked and decided to launch Pretty Rad For A Dad.

Like most of my ideas, that name started life as a t-shirt. Then I thought it should be a line of limited edition skateboards. Then I figured it would just make a funny tattoo. But like I said, when opportunity knocks you better answer or get outta the way because someone else is going to run you over on their way to make love with your destiny.

My team agreed to the name in lieu of finding anything else catchy AND available in the single weeks preparation I allowed them before pulling the trigger on Kickstarter. And funnily enough, a few of them have since agreed it was the right approach, as it's hard to see us being on the same incredible adventure had we waited any longer to find the perfect name for this project.

But in case you don't know - it's ok to change your mind!

Pretty Rad For A Dad has gotten us this far, with some amazing results... But it's certainly not the right name for all our projects. In 2014, you'll see us produce a documentary and a digital hub for new and expecting fathers, but I'm not sure if either of them will end up being called Pretty Rad For A Dad. During the past few months, we've had the opportunity to come up with hundreds of other names for these outcomes, all of which have pros and cons, just like the original. Maybe it's better to put them all under the same title, and maybe it's not.

Needless to say, only you can decide that for your own projects. But if there's anything I've learnt from this process, it's to not get hung up on finding the perfect name. Because maybe it's perfect right now, or maybe you just didn't ask enough people their opinion. But in the end, the only thing that matters is actually building stuff and getting it out there.

Do it fast, and do it often.

It's the only way you'll learn that names aren't actually for you - they're for your audience. And a cool name only lasts as long as the value of what it represents.

Don't believe me? I'll leave you with one final example of a crap name with phenomenal value (applied by its audience) and an awesome name with zero value.

Google vs Lance Armstrong.

Sure, most of us know that google is actually a misspelling of 'googol', which is the number 1, followed by 100 zeroes, but when it launched - Google meant NOTHING TO NOBODY. The value of that name has been consistently developed over years of creating and maintaining quality products and excellent service.

But look at the name Lance Armstrong. That dude was always going to do something incredible - his name basically screams 'Imma gonna win!' And win he did, for so long... But damn, he fell hard. And just like Tiger Woods, he could have told us the truth at any point and come out an awful lot better than he has now. With a name like that, I would have sponsored the dude for throwing javelins any day of the week!

But your name is not your brand. As both the examples prove, everything is your brand.

So now it's up to us to keep adding value to our audience of new and expecting fathers - no matter what banner we decide to gather around.