Choosing the right name for you, your business and your products or services is no easy thing!

In fact, I’ve been hung up for months and have delayed launching things just because I couldn’t think of a name that felt right.

I’m sure I’m not alone…

It can be daunting, overwhelming and even make you want to throw in the towel if a name doesn’t strike you right away.

And while I would never want to prohibit you from just moving forward and getting going on something, choosing a name is a big deal.

Rebranding can also be a big deal which is why, if you can nail it down on try #1, it’s even better.

So, to help you with choosing the right name for your business, brand and services and products, I can’t think of a better guest to hear from than Alexandra Watkins, CEO of eatmywords.com (whose claim to fame is naming Wendy’s Baconator) along with other notable brands who shares how you as a web designer can create a brand, theme and name for your business that stands out and passes the “smile and scratch” test.

Enjoy and cheers to helping you find the right theme and name that will represent your web design biz for years to come!

In this episode:

00:00 – Naming Your Business and Brand
13:28 – Brand Themes and Multiple Asset Management
22:44 – Naming Brands and Niche Businesses
29:53 – Importance of Naming in Business
40:25 – Product Naming and Brand Theme
51:24 – Simple Naming
1:01:11 – Show Notes

Free SMILE & SCRATCH Name Evaluation Test


Connect with Alexandra:

Episode #304 Full Transcription

Alexandra: 

One way to look at your name is imagine all of your write down a list of all of your competitors and see how your name, your current name, kind of fits in there. And like when you’re evaluating your name ideas for your new name, how does it stand out? You know where Bedrock or Terrain really jump out on a list of traditional law firm names. Welcome to the Web Design Business Podcast, with your host, josh Hall, helping you build a web design business that gives you freedom and a lifestyle you love.

Josh: 

Well, hello friends, and welcome in to a very, very special episode of the Web Design Business Podcast, where we’re gonna dive into names and, more specifically, naming your business or whether you have a personal brand, like I do. Naming your brand, even naming your products and services, which, as I’ve found out over the years and I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well, maybe you’re in this right now it is tough, it is challenging. There are so many things that come into play when it comes to naming your brand or your business, and I don’t want to prohibit you from moving forward and just getting into action, but I also don’t want you to overlook how important a name is. So, on that note, and on helping all of us with brand names, I couldn’t think of anyone better to help us with figuring out the perfect brand and product names for us than Alexandra Watkins, who is the CEO of a website called eatmywordscom, which I’m gonna highly recommend you check out. She also has quite a resume behind her of brand names, including the Nido robotic vacuum, smitten ice cream, the frozen yogurt franchise, spoon Me and, perhaps one of my favorite aspects of her credentials she helped name the Wendy’s Baconator. So this is someone who has a lot of experience with branding and names and she is an absolute wealth of knowledge when it comes to this subject. So gonna bring Alexandra on here. What a fun talk and I’m gonna highly recommend we talk about this in the episode. But I’m going to recommend highly you head over to her website at eatmywordscom. She has a free name test. I actually took it myself when I came up with Web Designer Pro and I would recommend that you do it as well for again your business name or any products or services you’re gonna offer. So just go to eatmywordscom. She is also the author of a really important book for naming called how to Create Brand Names that Stick. So another great resource, along with a ton of others that she has over there for you at eatmywordscom. Without further ado, here is Alexandra. We’re gonna dive into branding your business, your names, your services, your products, all the above. All right, alexandra, welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for taking some time to chat. I told you before we hit record. I’m thrilled about talking with you because names are tough. So welcome in. I’m so excited to chat with you.

Alexandra: 

Thank you, it’s nice to be here.

Josh: 

To lay some groundwork here, because I really have not met too many people in my career to this point who are. I mean, I work with a lot of brand identity people, but not so much names specifically, you have quite a resume behind you. Would you care to just share a little bit of your credentials, kind of what you’ve done so far in the branding and naming world?

Alexandra: 

Sure, so I’ve had my naming firm eatmywords for almost 20 years. My claim to fame is I named the Wendy’s Baconator. I have named a lot of brands that have really beloved names and followings. A lot of those are like Smitten Ice Cream in San Francisco or the Church of Cupcakes. I named Spoon Me Frozen Yogurt, which was a big franchise. But those are some more. Oh, and the other one people tend to love is Anow Salon in San Francisco that I named Handjob. So yeah, the retail stores are really some of the fun names but I’ve worked with Google, Twitter, Amazon, Coca-Cola, Frito, Colgate, Dr Scholls. Yeah, so I work with a lot of big brands, but yeah, I work with pretty much it.

Josh: 

Well, as a web designer, I’m sure the salon in San Francisco had some interesting SEO implications there with that name, but that’s quite a stretch. What a cool background you have, though, and the reason I was so excited to chat with you and that you agreed to come on is I find names to be oh so challenging. In fact, I just recently launched my newsletter, and it was delayed for like a couple months, largely because I just could not freaking figure out a name, and it is difficult. I just kind of want to start out with an open-ended question, which is why is coming up with a name so dang hard? What is it that makes it so difficult?

Alexandra: 

Well, I think people go about it the wrong way. First of all, there’s a couple of things people do wrong. One is they start on GoDaddy and if they can’t find an exact match available domain name, they get really frustrated or they get desperate and they start spelling things weird ways or leaving out vowels or consonants. So that’s one reason that it’s so hard for people is they’re thinking that that’s what’s important and that’s not. The domain name isn’t as important as you think. If somebody can’t find you through the exact match domain name, they’ll find you. I mean Tesla for the first 13 years they were in business. They didn’t own Teslacom, they were at Tesla Motors and it didn’t stop them. And Facebook was the Facebook until 2005. Dropbox and Basecamp both had millions of users with modified domains. So Dropbox was getdropboxcom and Basecamp was Basecamp HQ. So if you can’t get the domain that exact match domain, which nobody expects you to and don’t spend all your money on a domain name, invest in your brand in other ways. And then the other thing that people do that’s so frustrating or that frustrates them is like they’re trying to use chat GPT to come up with names and it’s just not there yet. It’s good at so many things. It’s good for kicking off brainstorming, but also people don’t have a plan or a strategy. They’re just sitting in a white like oftentimes in corporate people are sitting in a white room. They’re in the conference room, sitting in a white room, staring at a whiteboard, trying to come up with colorful ideas, and that’s not how they materialize. Such good points already.

Josh: 

I think, as an audience of web designers and agency owners, it’s so relieving to know that you don’t absolutely need to have the domain name to be successful and you like, if there’s anyone who needs to hear that from, it’s you, because, as you mentioned, there are huge brands who do not have thecom with the exact name. But, to your point, it can get really, really tricky, and I’ve experienced this as well, if you have domain names that are intentionally misspelled just so you could get close to it or have a different vowel or have a weird slang to it. That has some implications, too, though, if people are on the wrong site, trying to Googling you or trying to pronounce it as well.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, yeah. Well, one strategy that’s really successful for domains is, you know, the easy thing to do is just add a, an expected modifier. So you know my website is eatmywordscom, but we could easily be eat my words brand names, eat my words naming, eat my words branding. So that’s just kind of expected and that does help with SEO. But another thing you could do that I think is really fun and it really helps extend your brand is is do something more creative. So, for instance, we named a gourmet popcorn store, poppsychology, and we couldn’t get that domain name and psychology can be tricky to spell, so we got Crazy for Popcorn, which is, you know, crazy for Popcorn plays into the whole psychology aspect and it’s fun. It makes people smile. It was also their tagline. So that was a way, you know, a workaround, and one that I love is that we just had Thanksgiving and so this is so appropriate. It’s a mail order turkey company called Greenberg Smoke Turkey is, unless you know, it’s a family name and Greenberg could be spelled, you know. Is that a? Is it a B? U R G B R G? People don’t know, but their domain name is unforgettable and it’s gobblegobblecom.

Josh: 

That’s so great. That is so great and it’s such a. Those examples are great too, because I feel like it takes a little pressure off knowing that there are a ton of options.

Alexandra: 

Totally and and like another one that I love is, uh, I was at the fancy food show one year in San Francisco and and I’m a I’m a freak for peanut butter, peanut butter. So I there was probably, you know, more than a dozen peanut butter purveyors there. So I’m going around, you know, having samples everywhere, and I turn a corner and Moscone Center, and I look up and I see this banner above a booth and it says I love peanut buttercom and it was so memorable, right. So I went and I talked to them and you know, then after the show I was like wait, what was the name of that place? And I didn’t remember the name of the peanut butter company. I remembered I love peanut buttercom, so that’s where I went and it was peanut butter and co is the name of the company. They own peanut butter and cocom. But it redirects to I love peanut butter. All of the employees emails are you know, it would be Alexander, I love peanut butter. They should give me an honorary email. I do think you should be getting a kickback, for sure I wrote about them in the second edition of my book, so and I sent them the book and I saw them at the show the next year and they’re really excited.

Josh: 

So well, it’s a really important point because I forget the name of the turkey family company with a Henry or Harry. I forget already, but you know what I remember Gobble, gobblecom.

Alexandra: 

Absolutely, and with gobble gobble. I read about it. It was on Oprah’s the O list, you know, and I read it in my dentist waiting room. This is years ago and after I read it I’m like that’s a cool name. I didn’t need to send anyone a turkey, but I love the name. So then I went in and I got all you know doped up on all the drugs they give you when you’re having any type of dental surgery, and still I remember the names. That’s the sign of a good name. Someone told me the other day that that a good test is if someone that’s drunk and in a hurry can understand your name.

Josh: 

That’s a double whammy, not only in a hurry, but also please just name a test for a messaging and copy with kids. It’s like if you have a 10 year old understands what you do, you’re going to be good, but if they don’t understand, most of your clients aren’t going to understand either.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, and speaking of which I’m not understanding. I came across this. I was looking. I’m doing a big presentation on Friday. I was looking for examples of names that, like are kind of failed, and I think fail is a name. The business succeeded, but it’s orange theory. And for the longest time I thought orange theory was a juice bar.

Josh: 

Yeah, I totally. That’s funny. I thought something similar because they’re huge, I’m in Columbus Ohio. They’re huge here right now. They might be in San Francisco as well. But yeah, I had, I had thought something similar to when it came out. I didn’t realize it was a workbook.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, it’s kind of one of those. It does mean something. It’s it does mean something, but it’s too hard for me to explain. But if you have to explain your name to people, you’re essentially apologizing for it. Whether it’s your, your name being spelled a weird way, whether you’re having to explain how to pronounce it or the meaning behind it, then when you’re when you’re explaining, you’re essentially apologizing and not devalues your brand.

Josh: 

That’s a good point. There’s a couple of things I want to dive into here. One I just want to get the. I want to go right into this because I’m in this situation right now. This is kind of half selfishly a coaching call with you, because I’m like I don’t know what to do about this predicament I’m in, which is personal brand, first a company name, and I started my website as my name, joshallco, largely because I wasn’t sure where my teaching was was going to go. I was a freelance web designer with a business and then I started teaching on the side under a personal brand. I’m glad I did that because it gave me the opportunity to figure out what I wanted to do with it. But now I’m in this tricky situation where I know exactly who I serve, what I do with teaching web design business owners. I have a community called web designer pro and that name really highlights. I passed your test. I think I was shy on one, which we’ll talk about your test that you have. I think I was nine out of 10 on the test for web designer pro. But I also have my podcast is called the web design business podcast. My newsletter is called webbiz weekly. So I’ve got like all these entities in and around a personal brand and I feel stuck. And I know I’m not alone in this. As all entrepreneurs, this seems to be really, really common. So I guess I’d love to start with the personal brand thing, like when is it good or when do you recommend having a personal brand and making your brand the business name?

Alexandra: 

Well, there’s, that’s a great question, and I do encounter that a lot. One thing that I’ve started helping people do lately is come up with monikers. So where you’re using your own Nate, like you’re the brand, you’re the person, but you have it. It’s almost like a title. So I’ll give you an example. Someone was talking about a spa, a spa. This woman is a spa whiz, that’s all. She’s like a consultant for the spa industry, like she could be the wizard of spas. You know what I mean. So like it’s not her business name, but it’s how people remember her. Just like you don’t remember Greenberg Smoked Turkeys, but you remember Gobble, gobble, give something people they can remember. So there’s a guy named Bruce Burch and he is the father of cause marketing. That’s his, that’s his claim to fame. And I was talking to him and I said you’re the cause father. I just shortened it Right. And he latched onto that and he, he got a photo of himself wearing a tuxedo and he made a car, the cause father. You know, make me an offer, I can’t refuse, and or, I’m going to make you an offer, you can’t refuse something like that. And he’s owning it and he’s leaning into it. So there’s another. There’s a woman I work with who’s a flight. She’s a former flight attendant. Turn realtor and realtors they have to work under the company name right the realty name but they want to position themselves as a realtor, and so she’s a former flight attendant, she’s a bubbly blonde, she’s very self deprecating, and so I branded her moniker the flighty realtor, right. So things where you can give yourself some kind of name, where people oh, there’s one that I love. It’s an attorney, right, an attorney like most attorneys, you know, they name their firms after themselves, right. And there’s a woman named Lauren Vasquez attorney, right, just to blend in with the you know million other attorneys. She’s a cannabis attorney. That makes her different, right, but there are lots of cannabis attorneys now. So she created a moniker that I love and it’s the fired up attorney, right, and that’s easy to remember. So in her her website is fired up attorneycom and that’s her domain name and it goes to Lauren Vasquez. You know, law, legal, whatever.

Josh: 

Okay, that’s what I have. The next question I was wondering is that sounds like a tagline that would be in an email signature, but how does that work online or on socials Like is that kind of moniker something you would put on? Like me, josh Hall, the blank, whatever I figure out, I would make it whatever.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, I’m a non-moniker attorney. I’m sure that is her. Like you know, if she’s on Instagram, that’s probably her Instagram handle. So, yeah, that’s where you can use it to get people to you. But if you, yeah, especially if you’re leaning into your own personal name. But there’s nothing to latch onto or you can just rebrand your business. So one that we did that it’s in my book and people when people talk to me about the book, this is a. This is a story that they cite frequently, so I know it’s really effective. The woman that we work with her name is Lynette Hoy. She’s a fiery publicist, but you would never know that from you know Lynette Hoy PR. It sounds like any other PR firm, so we branded her fire talker PR with the tagline hot on the press. She calls herself the fire chief. She works in the firehouse. Her theme song is fire by the Ohio players that she pumps up before she does a seminar, seminar, webinar. She has packages like controlled burn and fire starter. She calls her webinar ignite your visibility so you can see if you, if your name, lends itself to a theme. Then you can really extend your brand that way. So that’s something that people can do as well.

Josh: 

This gives me so much hope for people who are just stuck with the brand name thing, because I I get this from a lot of my students often, especially if they’re early on or if they’re in a position where they’re thinking about taking the business more seriously or going full time, which is the inevitable question should it be a personal brand or should I call my business a business name? And I’ve seen it work both ways. It worked for me as a web designer, I had a business name, and as a online coach and educator, I have a personal brand. It does work both ways. This really gives me some hope. In that, though, if you’re going to go the personal brand route, to have some sort of theme with it, I like that idea of a theme. This is so timely. My gosh, I didn’t think about that. I have a friend of mine who is in my web designer community and he loves email. He just loves it. I’m like what is wrong with you? He loves getting into like email setup and domain, like the stuff that most everybody dreads. Even as a web designer, I dread, but he loves it, and I told him I was like you’re the email guy that should be. You got to do something with email. That is your theme. Like he’s helping out everyone with email more. I’m like do something with email. So I think he just bought this morning because we were chatting about I think he bought email guyco. We could probably come up with something more creative, but that’s at least a start right For for that kind of situation where you do something, make it memorable, make it a theme.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, what I would do with that one, because email is really descriptive guy doesn’t really buy him anything, so I would. What I would do is start. You could either you could go on. You could go on chat GPT and say give me a bunch of interesting words that start with E that are fun, or pop, don’t fun. Chat GPT doesn’t understand fun yet Like fun to chat GPT is like super corny dad jokes, dad joke kind of humor, but not even, not even quite there.

Josh: 

Okay, I was gonna say, I might like it, but okay.

Alexandra: 

Well, I will say one time chat GPT did come through on a name. I was. I have a true crime club that my girlfriends and I meet once a month to discuss true crime going on, and I asked Cha Chi Pichita to come up with names for my club and one of the names that came up with was the Lady Killers, which I loved. That’s not the name my group shows. If anyone’s watching the video of this, you can see my mug. She is our icon and we are called the Jane Doze. So that’s the name the group shows, and Amy came up with it on the treadmill. So you never know where good name’s gonna come from.

Josh: 

Gotcha. Okay, so that might encompass, like a theme, may encompass not only the person, but the brand as well, but what about, in particular, my situation, which is again really common with entrepreneurs, where you have products or memberships, assets like a podcast, like a YouTube show that have different names? I mean, in an ideal world, I would love to have everything under one name. Actually, I heard about you and my friend Jay Klaus’s podcast recently, and he recently rebranded to Creator Science, which I think was a really smart move for him. I had thought about doing something similar with Web Designer Pro. I haven’t made that move yet, though, and I’m not. It was fuzzy for me with, like these different products being different names. What’s your thoughts on that of having, essentially, assets that are named something different under a personal brand?

Alexandra: 

Yeah, I think if your Web Designer Pro, if that’s your umbrella brand, then you can have things underneath that.

Josh: 

And would those be? What would you think? Would it, would an initial idea be good if it was all called Web Designer Pro, or is there something to a newsletter and a podcast that would lead?

Alexandra: 

to some. You know I like your newsletter name Web Wiz Weekly. Is that what it is? Web?

Josh: 

Biz Weekly Web Biz Weekly yeah, this would work too, not too late.

Alexandra: 

It’s gonna be good because it’s got nice alliteration Web Wiz Weekly. Oh, and then you’ve got the www.

Josh: 

Yeah, that’s true. I think, actually I think that’s taken. Web Wiz Well there is a couple different Web Wiz Weekly that could work. I knew I should have had this chat before I named my podcast. It’s not too late, Alexandra, I can change it. I do like that a lot because it really is the trick about what I do and I think what a lot of people do too is who you help Like. I’ve really tried to think about with my brand. I don’t want to necessarily because I’m in the business realm more so than anything. I’m helping people with the business side of Web Design. It has been really tricky because it’s I don’t want to say the term business is bland, but it is a little bit. I find, like anyone teaching the business side of any online marketing, I find that to be a little more tricky to brand, at least in my experience.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, but like biz makes the word business really fun, right?

Josh: 

Yeah.

Alexandra: 

It does, I think. Biz just yeah, but I agree business is kind of a boring word, but biz is more modern and fun and short and easy and all of that.

Josh: 

And I had thought about rebranding my podcast through the Web Biz podcast just to keep that a little more simple too. So and this is really coming with a lot of my students too, who, if they don’t have a theme but they serve a certain like niche, they often won’t do the same thing, but that can get tricky too. So I’d imagine all the groundwork we’ve laid so far could apply to also naming a brand for a niche, I imagine.

Alexandra: 

But yeah, a niche, I think. So. Let’s say like, give me an example of a niche, like someone that designs websites for doctors, for instance.

Josh: 

Yeah, it’s probably the most common. Yeah, you know the website designer who does, yeah, medical offices or dentists.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, medical, yeah, so then that’s such an easy theme. So you know you could I mean obviously, web doctors taken, but yeah, anything. There’s so much verbiage around the medical profession and you can look up, you know, you know medical lingo or ask chat GPT. Now I mean I have all these resources. If you read my book hello, my name is awesome. There’s tons of resources in there, like I was saying for your friend with the email guy, to go and chat GPT and ask for words to start with E. But another strategy is to go look at scrabble dictionaries. That’s a really good place because they have all the words that start with letters and it takes the little digging, but that’s what that’s. You have to look at naming, like finding the right name, as like it’s a fun adventure treasure hunt, digging. You know you’re just going down the rabbit holes trying to strike gold and it will happen. But with I spaced out, what was the one? Sorry, I got distracted.

Josh: 

I think you covered it there good with just like almost how to name a business if you’re serving a niche. Yeah, oh, yeah, so look at.

Alexandra: 

So, yeah, look at. Yeah, there’s lingo, there’s. Yeah, just go on. You know related work. You know what are words related to the medical profession.

Josh: 

Okay, so that’s yeah, that’s a great call for anyone who has that niche kind of approach and I would imagine if you’re a general generalist as a web designer serving everyone there’s, you could probably orient it more around your services, right Like name, around your skill set. In the case of my friend Amar, yeah, he’s an email wizard, so something like that would probably that’s what I would recommend for him. He doesn’t serve a niche, but he is kind of in a niche with his services. So I guess you could apply all these principles to any number of business setup or who you serve.

Alexandra: 

Yeah well, eat my Words started out naming things that make people fat and drunk, which is why we’re named Eat my Words. You know my claim to fame is I named the Wendy’s Baconator, so that worked really well. But now you know we work with everyone and our name has never prevented. You know, if someone’s like, oh, their name is too fun, then we’re not the right. You know they’re too corporate for us and that’s okay. But like there’s a, there’s a consultancy, a marketing consultancy for the medical profession, and it’s called Fresh Blood. So but yeah just look, you have to like, go beyond, like doctor is super obvious, right, but go beyond the obvious.

Josh: 

And how you mentioned chat, GPT. What are some of the resources for going beyond the obvious? Is it Google searches? What would that look like?

Alexandra: 

Oh, look at stock photo websites for ideas. You know, picture says a thousand words. I was naming a frozen yogurt franchise and I looked up Coldest Places on Earth and I was just skimming tax and I saw the word Siberian and I’m like, oh, siberia would be really fun because you know the teens that were all going there. You know, hey, mom, I’m going to Siberia, like it’s just a fun. It’s a fun, it’s a really unexpected try for the unexpected.

Josh: 

That’s a what a great nugget of advice. I was even thinking in a case of like an ice cream place, like you could probably get to the point where you have like a penguin or something involved, whereas if you didn’t look behind, like the obvious choices for an ice cream style place or a frozen yogurt, something like penguin probably wouldn’t even come into the picture. But I love that approach of like taking in a few levels back and having some fun with it. I mean, how do you feel about the landscape right now with names? Because I feel like fun names are more accepted now, especially even in the corporate. I’m not in the corporate world, but there are still. I mean the corporate people are buying from and interacting with funner brands. Is that kind of exciting for you to be able to have fun with names instead of just like chase insurance or whatever it is you know?

Alexandra: 

Yeah, it’s nice that companies are realizing like that it’s okay to have a sense of humor and, I think, one place that they can start and see like hey, this works, name your conference rooms fun names, you know. So, like at Etsy, some of their meeting rooms are named musician food mashup. So there’s wheatwood mac and cheese sushi and the brand sushi and the banche is Oreo Speedwagon. So you know, groupon has really fun names Like this used to be a forest God. I was just thinking like do companies even have yeah, like I just found out. My publisher I thought you know like my publisher has big office and Oakland and I just found out from one of my fellow authors like they don’t even have office space anymore. They’re all virtual. So, yeah, there goes the conference room.

Josh: 

And it’s a way to stand out. Now I know the interview you did with Jay. You had mentioned a law firm. That I mean. All law firms are like two or three last names LLC or something but you mentioned one.

Alexandra: 

Is it Leadrock?

Josh: 

No, maybe it was, is it?

Alexandra: 

Terrain, terrain, that’s what it was.

Josh: 

I think it was a T word, yeah, terrain, which was yeah. If you were looking through a list of law firms and it’s like you know, jigga Swartz and Bob LLC or Terrain, I’m like, oh, that’s different. That like what a way to stand out now, just with having a creative name. I feel like yeah, it’s funny.

Alexandra: 

I remember in San Francisco when I lived there years ago, all real estate companies were kind of boring names and then one came out named Climb and that was kind of the beginning of like, oh, now people realize like, oh, it’s okay to have a, you know, a cool name. But with law firms, yeah, terrain. The reason we named them Terrain is they specialize in two things One, environmental law, which works really well with Terrain, and then startups, so you know, people navigating that new Terrain of having a startup and all the foundational documents that they need. And then we named another law firm that works with startups, who specializes in helping them get their foundational documents, and we named it Bedrock. And their tagline is where it all begins.

Josh: 

Yeah gosh, so good. That’s a great example, too, of an industry that’s a bit sterile typically. Oh, totally. I mean, I don’t know. You tell me, have you got any results back from them since they changed their name?

Alexandra: 

Oh, yeah, bedrock. Yeah, it’s in my book, bedrock, she said as soon as she changed. So she was using her own name, leila Benajamali, and she knew her name was hard for people to spell, pronounce and remember.

Josh: 

But like after today.

Alexandra: 

You’re not going to remember Leila Benajamali, but you will remember Bedrock, right. So yeah, she said once they changed their name that they started attracting the type of clients that they wanted to work with Right and that their revenues increased. One way to look at your name is imagine all of your write down a list of all of your competitors and see how your name, your current name, kind of fits in there. And like when you’re evaluating your name ideas for your new name, how does it stand out when Bedrock or Terrain really jump out on a list of traditional law firm names?

Josh: 

Great point, great point. Yeah, I didn’t really think about that, but literally, like if you were to see it, you would literally see like how does it stack up?

Alexandra: 

Yeah.

Josh: 

A little bit ago you mentioned. If you’re having trouble figuring out a name, you will come to it. But this gets to the point where I just kind of experienced this with my newsletter. I didn’t want to call it like Josh Hall weekly. I just I want new people who don’t know my brand to feel like oh yeah, I’m interested in that. I don’t know who this Josh guy is, so I wouldn’t imagine that would be very readable or intriguing. But I did get to a point where I was kind of like screw it, this is like good enough for now at least to get going with. Where is the line between like analysis, paralysis and just like going and then working on a redesign or re rebranding later? Where is that point where you should just, you know, name something and just go, or what’s your thoughts on that?

Alexandra: 

Get it right the first time. Don’t have to, because otherwise you’re going to have to go back and start over and tell everybody hey, this was just a placeholder name and yeah, don’t launch with a placeholder name, get it right. And if you have to hire someone like me to help you, do that, you know I. But I can’t tell you how many people come to us and they’re like yeah, we launched with this name, but now we’re realizing it’s really problematic for us, it’s not really serving us, people aren’t understanding what we do and we are now going to invest in having a good name.

Josh: 

Okay, that’s interesting Because I was thinking it might be the opposite approach with, like as a business coach, I’m usually like start making money, start building your business and then we’ll figure some other stuff out. But it would make sense, especially if you are building something that’s going to have a big foundation behind it with a brand name and email and domain attached to it. To have to redo all that that’s a big deal. So what’s interesting about this is it makes the gravity of this situation important. I mean I know names are important for me personally. When I asked you the first question, why are names so hard for me? I think it’s because it is that important. I mean it really is. I don’t want to say I can make a big break a business, but I can certainly make a business like like the bedrock company you mentioned, like it really can do a lot. So I don’t want to like pressure people or make people overwhelmed for thinking through a name, but it definitely is something to know, I guess not take lightly right.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, I mean use your own name until you have that brand name. You know, you can always. When I was a freelancer, I was just using Alexander Watkinscom and when I came up with Eat, my Words it just. And the nice thing too is, when you have a brand name, it makes your business more soluble, right Versus if your name is attached to the business.

Josh: 

Absolutely. That is key. It’s one thing I’ve helped some of my students out recently. I’m like if you all have an inclination about selling eventually or even scaling to where it’s something a little bigger than you, that is absolutely a must. You can’t sell yourself unless you’re just selling a job. Essentially Now there are empires like the Tony Robbins, the Grant Cardoans and those who have like a which I kind of found out more recently a lot of the top either life coaches, entrepreneurs have like personal entities but it’s like an enterprise, but they have products named different things but they’re still kind of a big personal brand. But there’s a lot of. I guess it can be a little unsteady and it can be a problem sometimes with a personal brand if it gets too big. If you do want to step out or sell or grow it to be something bigger than you are or change in some way. Like I don’t know if you’ve ever done different things under your personal brand or your name, but if, for example, I am out of the web design world one day and I’m more entrepreneurial if I’m known as Josh the web design guy, that could be a problem as a personal brand.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, yeah, I know what you might want to say. I may have always been creative and have attached that to my name creative and unexpected. But yeah, eat my words, it’s just we’ve always been names and taglines. I don’t think we’ll ever be anything else and that’s fine for us. But yeah, if you are naming your company something, you have to look into your crystal ball and see what you could possibly be in the future and look, we never know, right. Like no one knew that chat GPT and AI was going to take. I mean, some people knew but you know most of us didn’t.

Josh: 

Didn’t Corona the beer have like horrible sales when it happened?

Alexandra: 

Yeah, something like that. Yeah, but now you don’t even think about like people you don’t care about Corona very often right.

Josh: 

True.

Alexandra: 

But yeah, try to have a name that you’re not going to get locked into. A great example of someone that did that in Canada there’s a very big company called Canadian Tire and I think people in Canada shop there like once a week and it’s they sell way more than tires they it’s kind of like a little bit like a Walmart like. Walmart meets Home Depot meets Target, but they sell all kinds of stuff there, so they outgrew their name. Everyone in Canada knows they sell more than tires. But if they wanted to roll into the US and they launched this Canadian tire, and you’re driving down the street and you’re like, oh, there’s a new tire shop, like you would have no idea what was inside.

Josh: 

Yeah, that’s a good point. So it’s, what do people do in that situation where you do outgrow your brand?

Alexandra: 

You change it.

Josh: 

You change it.

Alexandra: 

We changed a bank name that was more than a hundred years old. They were an award winning regional bank named First National Bank of Syracuse, but they were in Syracuse, kansas, not Syracuse, new York. They helped. They were in agriculture country and they helped a lot. They did a lot of generational, you know, serving families for generations, helping dreams come true, that was their tagline. So we rebranded them as dream first bank. And there’s, you know, because it’s very aspirational, it’s very modern and different. It kept the word first, but it’s just a very different kind of name.

Josh: 

Oh, I love that name. It’s interesting because I don’t know. Do you think it’s harder to name products under a personal brand or a business name or a business name as a whole? Is that probably the most challenging or the thing that holds the most weight of business as a whole?

Alexandra: 

Yeah, I mean business names are always more challenging than product names because on a business name people want that domain name where a product name it’s going to fall under the general domain name. I prefer naming products, just because it does take that pressure off of us. But yeah, products are they tend to have more like an invention would have more. I was just on a podcast of this inventors helping inventors podcast, and the guy that does it invented the Wonder Wallet. Like that’s a great name, right, it’s got great alliteration. It sounds really cool. It sold $30 million a product, but that’s a product versus a company. So yeah, the product names can be more fun.

Josh: 

So more fun. And again, just to kind of bring it back to my situation, which I’m only using as a case study, because it is really common where a lot of entrepreneurs in particular have different names for different assets. I don’t going back to that real quick do you maybe we kind of we kind of covered this a little bit, but do you feel like it’s good to have one name that encompasses an asset like a newsletter or podcast, or are you cool officially with having and I’m purely for my sake are you cool with having, like, a different name for the podcast versus the newsletter?

Alexandra: 

So like, let’s say, eat my words. Like you know, our newsletter called Juicy News, our blog is called the kitchen sink, right, my title is sometimes big cheese. So yeah, but it all relates to the same theme of. You know, eat my words, food, food and beverage. You know, we have, you know, packages like fun size or supermarket special or the whole enchilada, so everything needs to have the same name.

Josh: 

I love that. I also love even your about page. Who’s in the kitchen? Is it really cool? That’s a great point. That’s kind of what I wanted to arrive to with. This is like how do you have different product names but keep the theme? I guess that’s. That’s a more sustained question.

Alexandra: 

Well, look at Ben and Jerry’s, right. So all of their ice cream names are fun names chunky, monkey, cherry, garcia, liz, lemon, right, shubby, hubby so that the theme there is just, you know, fun and playful. So, and Ben and Jerry’s isn’t a fun and playful name, but they, they were able to create that with the flavor names. So if all of your names don’t work together, like all have shared the same word, they could share the same either theme or style, personality. That that works really well.

Josh: 

Gotcha. That makes a whole lot of sense. Yeah, I absolutely love that advice. And again kind of goes back to taking the pressure off, because if you have a theme, I would imagine that would be the starting point. Right Is to have a theme, know your know your ideal clients, your style, your vibe, the result you get, and then the theme kind of dictates the overarching umbrella brand and then the products and the assets underneath it, and I say assets in the way of, like, a show or a podcast or a newsletter or a blog. Yeah, so that makes me, that makes me feel a lot better. I mean, do you see people start in an ideal process? I would imagine you start with the theme, but do people start in different areas and come to a theme, or does it? Yeah, does it work both ways, like starting with a product name and arriving to a theme, or, or, I would imagine, is it best to start with a theme?

Alexandra: 

It’s well, I would say like when we, when we come up with names for people, we ask if there’s any themes that they want us to explore. So we were recently working with a company named Sherlock. That was the name of the company already. So when we were naming the product, detective was a theme to explore, the the coming up. But, like with fire talk or PR, we came up with that theme on our own of fire. So sometimes it’s just you just have to. When we’re evaluating names, one of the in the my task, the smile and scratch task, the L and smile. Smile is the acronym for the five qualities that make a name grade and the L is legs, and legs means it lends itself to a theme. So when you’re evaluating your, name and trying to see, and we have a free name evaluation test on our website. If you go to eatmywordscom, just click on test a name and you’ll you’ll see. Does your name lend itself to a theme?

Josh: 

Yes, and I was going to make sure we hit on that, because I went through that test and I absolutely loved it. Really, not only did it give me some clarity, but it gave me some confidence and also it gave me some red flags on like I didn’t even think about that. We don’t need to go through every, every, every one of these, but yeah, basically we’ll make sure we link in the show notes. You have smile and scratch. I’ll just cover them real quick for you so you don’t have to. You know, resame again, but suggestive, memorable, imagery legs and emotional for smile. So those are the five qualities of a sticky name. And then scratch the seven deal breakers spelling, challenged, copycat, restrictive, annoying, tame, curse of knowledge, classic with web designers. And hard to pronounce. I actually want to dive into the, the scratch stuff because I see this often in my world of technology and web design where, yeah, the the curse of knowledge is a big one, not only in just titles or in brand names, but just copy and general. But the hard to pronounce thing is really interesting too, and I feel like we’re in a world where there are so many domain names taken now that a lot of people are gravitating to the hard to pronounce kind of thing. What’s your? Yeah, I see you shaking your head. I know it’s like detrimental. So what’s the what’s the option around? Like, if I mean, we talked about the domain name stuff, but if someone is just dead set on a theme or something but all the names are taken, are there workarounds to that without going the hard to pronounce or else?

Alexandra: 

Yeah At a modifier word. Come up with a, a creative phrase. I mean, I saw one the other day and it was spelled T O D O I S T. It looks like to doist, t O D O I S T and it’s pronounced to doist. Like to do list to do list. But how would you know that?

Josh: 

Yeah.

Alexandra: 

People often, the first time they see your name, they’re, they’re, they’re, they see it before they hear it. So if they’re seeing it and they’re reading, to doist, so you’re telling me about this app, whatever it is, you’re telling me about this app to doist. Okay, then my buddy is telling me about to doist, this app named to doist. I have no idea. It’s the same thing and it happens all the time. So right now I’m working with this woman named Abby Christen and she is the queen of cricket, and you would think cricket was spelled like, like you know, jiminy cricket right or cricket the game. But cricket is spelled C R I C U T. And for years I was pronouncing that cry cut and when I was talking to her I’m like, oh my gosh, I love cry cut. And she’s like, oh yeah, though it’s actually pronounced cricket. I’m like what it like? I was, you know, of course, embarrassed, but she’s like oh, everyone calls it cry cut. She’s like people call it cry cut and cricket. It’s like that whole brand like this is a brand where in in a craft store like Joanne’s or Michael’s, there’s an entire aisle devoted to this product cricket and here’s people pronouncing it completely differently.

Josh: 

So I’ll keep you guys in. The workers like do you guys have any cry, cut stuff. And the workers like what, what? Yeah, yeah.

Alexandra: 

No, and she said, yeah, now it just. And so they. They changed their logo recently to have a little cricket in it. But look, your name needs to be able to be pronounced the right way, appearing in black and white as a proper noun in the Wall Street Journal. You have to think of your name. That way Can people pronounce it? Just looking at it as a single word without any help from the logo. You know, with capitalization. You know capitalization in the middle, camel casing. You know, in the middle of the word, different colors, like if to do is was, you know to was in one. You know one color and do an is in another color. It would help you pronounce it, but that’s not how you’re always going to help people will always see it and you’re not going to be there to help them to figure out how to pronounce it.

Josh: 

Gosh, that is so important, this whole segment and what you said a little bit ago. People, what did you say? People read the logo before they see, or they read a name before they actually hear it pronounced. Okay, yeah, yeah, I mean I can think. I can’t think of any well, I think in a few examples. But in the software world they’re popping up all the time where, yeah, you see stuff and I’m like I don’t know exactly how to say that I’m sure as heck not going to remember it If that’s the case.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, and like yesterday, I had a podcast that I was on transcribed and I was talking about show chocolate and it spelled it. The AI that transcribed it spelled it C, h, o, as it sounds like Joe would be spelled. But, it’s actually spelled T C H O. The T is silent, like really, what an eye roll, right? So yeah, so people have to remember. If you’re talking to someone on the phone, if you’re talking to Siri or Alexa and you’re saying, you know, but you know, fine, show chocolate. Or you know you’re telling me, josh, that you’re going to San Francisco I know you love chocolate and say, oh, you’ve got to go to the show factory. You’re not thinking it’s spelled T C H O.

Josh: 

Oh, totally Like Google search would be way off. I’d be, I’d be like this is horrible. Why did you send me here?

Alexandra: 

Yeah, I also test your name out loud. So one time I asked, there’s a fitness chain called choose and it’s spelled C, h, u, z, e, so lame. And I asked Siri to find it. Find shoes near, find shoes and she said there’s 13 shoe stores near you.

Josh: 

Gosh, that’s a great point to. I feel like any sort of name that might resemble any sort of trouble. Do you recommend doing yeah, like a poll, like write it on a piece of paper and an email and ask somebody how would you pronounce this, how would you say this? I?

Alexandra: 

imagine that’s a good practice. Yes, you can rely on yourself knowing how to pronounce it. I one time I named this company altimeter group and I thought everyone knew how to pronounce altimeter, but I later found out that some people called it altimeter and it was. It was. I mean, the company was sold to profit. It’s, you know, very, you know, highly educated audience. But people were some people were pronounced in altimeter and I was like, wow, you know. See, you just got to make sure people know.

Josh: 

I was just going to ask you you have such an impressive resume, but have you had some bus that you’ve learned from? That were just terrible names.

Alexandra: 

Well, okay that I wouldn’t call that a bus. But I would say like yeah, in hindsight maybe not. But, yeah, one time I was working with this voiceover artist, a very well known voiceover artist in New York named Debbie, and I named her Debbie Irwin and I named her company. Debbie does voiceovers because I, like, you know, after the Debbie does Dallas movie and she liked it. But then the guys in that industry were just like give her a lot of, you know, a lot of flack over it. You know making fun of it. So, yeah, that wasn’t a good one. And then there was a container gardener that I worked with in San Francisco and I named her company the pot lady because she only worked in containers. Right, it was pot. And after a while she’s like, yeah, I just want to go back to naming it Turning a lot of weird requests and people showing up by door. I bet yeah, yeah, and of course, now that weed is legal in California, you know it wouldn’t have the same impact.

Josh: 

True, true.

Alexandra: 

But it was, um, yeah, her tagline was cute, it was bringing flower power to the people you know which said like, okay, it’s not weed, you know, but yeah, there’s a. Those are, I would say those are three that I in hindsight. Well, you know, it all comes down to personal comfort level and I never want to like force a name on someone and sometimes I do get tend to get really excited. But yeah, it really needs to be comfortable to whoever is is using the name themselves.

Josh: 

How long did it take for you to come up with your smile and scratch test Was that? Uh, no.

Alexandra: 

I came up with it like on the spot. I was like it’s some ungodly hour like 8am on a Sunday at a national speakers association conference and I was watching um Chip Heath, who wrote major stack, my favorite business book with his brother, dan um, speak about their book major stack, and they had an acronym success. But it didn’t have the last S on it, which I thought was odd, because S there’s more letters with S and C than any other letter in the alphabet. But I was like I need an acronym. So I always was saying your name should make you smile instead of scratch your head. So I wrote down smile and scratch and I came up with it literally wrote it on a napkin. It was one of those things and we’re all the best ideas start right, yeah, and in the beginning the M and smile stood for meaningful instead of memorable. But I, and then the T I think the T you started out, I don’t remember, but I know that when I wrote my book, then when I wrote my book and I needed to write a whole chapter on smile and scratch I like for each and like really blow out each letter meaningful was kind of that it was covered in scratch under cursive knowledge, because knowledge is like the opposite of meaningful. So we’re saying don’t do this. So then I could, you, I had an opportunity to take that M and turn it into memorable, which is, you know, people always want to name this memorable. And what makes something memorable and this is important for your audience to know is, you know, if you’re trying to invent some new words, some, you know, random word, those are hard for people to remember because they don’t exist in our current knowledge base.

Josh: 

Yes.

Alexandra: 

We all exist like bedrock, right? We all know bedrock from the Flintstones. Or the bike lock company kryptonite, we all know kryptonite from Superman. So if something already exists in our current knowledge base, or even Groupon, we know group and coupon. Therefore Groupon, we understand that. So don’t don’t try to be clever to induce something completely different just for the sake of being clever, if it’s not going to be easy for people to remember. And something also for people to remember is just because it’s creative doesn’t mean it’s a good name. Example you know you were talking about your friend the email guy. I’m sure he’s familiar with Zobny, which was an email software. Zobny is inbox spelled backwards.

Josh: 

Oh, I didn’t even think about that, yeah no, no one does, no one does. Yeah.

Alexandra: 

Because people don’t spell things backwards and the only time to spell things backwards is if it makes sense. So, like Oprah’s name backwards is Harpo, so her production company is called Harpo Productions. Oh, I didn’t know that Right, and that’s very clever, and she’s Oprah, she can do whatever she wants. But Serena Williams came out with a line of tennis apparel that was her name, spelled backwards, which is like RNS or something.

Josh: 

Yeah, I was going to say R&E.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, people don’t spell things. People do not. We don’t look at things and spell them backwards, we just we don’t. That’s not how our brains are wired. I do have a name or friend who’s dyslexic, though, and he he’s used that to his advantage, like he can look at a word and, like, scramble the letters. So figured out that Camry is an acronym for anagram for my car, which I thought was fun.

Josh: 

Oh, I didn’t think about that. Or yeah, people don’t, people don’t.

Alexandra: 

Right, because people don’t look at something and mix up the letters.

Josh: 

It’s also such a good reminder to like you can be as creative and artistic as you want, but you have to think of it’s not about you, it’s about your clients, it’s about you people passing the test that you have on your website Does it make people smile or scratch their head? I just, I absolutely love your approach to naming in general and this is a really, really good point. To make sure, when we’re thinking about names as an umbrella, as a company or as a product or a service or an asset, yeah, to name it, keep it simple, keep it memorable. I mean that’s there’s something like I would think about web design agency, as I’ve run across a lot. One of the ones that has stuck out to me since, I think probably 2011 or 12, is when I met this company and they were called Bald Head Creative and the owner wasn’t even bald. That’s what I was saying about, but I still remember that and it probably you know whether it’s a great name or not beside the point, but I remember it. I remember it from, yeah, over 10 years ago.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, yeah, no, that’s distinctive. Yeah, the the. You know it’s funny when you said it’s not about you. When Layla was talking about the name Bedrock, she said it’s not about us. You know it’s about the client and that’s. You know law firm names. It’s all you know. For the most part, they are the name of the firm, the firm owners, partners, and it’s all about them. It’s all about their ego when it says nothing about what the company is or does.

Josh: 

You know, I’ve experienced this firsthand this year because when I came up with the name of my community, web Designer Pro, it was actually already an established community based off of my personal brand. It was just called the, the Josh Hall Web Design Club, and I only chose that name because I could not decide on anything. So I was just, I took my own advice and was like skirt, I’m going to roll with that. When I, when I came up with Web Designer Pro, what I saw was a shift in ownership of the community. People were like proud to be, because it wasn’t about me, my name wasn’t involved. They were they’re proud to be a Web Designer Pro, which was really cool. So it was just a good example of like making it not about me but about them, like a community that you come in here and this is what you become. That’s kind of why I fall in love with the name too.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, but uh. Yeah, that’s so true, then that name makes an emotional connection with your audience. It makes them feel good.

Josh: 

Yeah, and I think anyone who has a chance to do that on a service or with a service with a business name as a whole awesome. But worst case, you know, with with a service or something you provide cause, even like with your different service names, if you have different levels to things, that can give somebody some ownership too. If you have like a few different levels for a starter or a professional or elite or whatever it is, that can make people feel like I’m in the elite plan or I’m the elite tier, I’m in mastery instead of pro, you know, like something like that.

Alexandra: 

Yeah, or like in my course. So I’ve an online course and I have one of the basic levels called just the meat, and the level where you get coaching from me is called um, is called private chef, so someone who’s working with me directly can say, oh, I’m, I have a private chef, you know. So it makes them feel good.

Josh: 

Oh, that’s cool. So just the meat. Yeah, you’re, I’m looking at your page right now. Just the meat chef’s table, private chef and then group catering. That’s really cool. Uh, your web. Look, I don’t need to do anything else other than put your website out there, so everyone needs to go to eat my wordscom. That’s got your free tests, which I went through. I highly recommend the smile and scratch test. Your book uh, definitely recommend as well. I haven’t made. I haven’t read it yet, but it is on my list. I’m probably going to go ahead and order it and get it on my shelf here to get that going. Um, so many good resources you have. Alexander, thank you so much for taking some time today. Is there anything in particular that you’d like to to send my audience to other than just your website, or is there?

Alexandra: 

something I’ll tell you guys. If you, if you read my book and review it on Amazon and send me a screenshot or seratum social, um, I will, I’ll review some names for you. Just you know, shoot me some names, or if you have a question for me, you need some advice, Um, happy to do that If you are willing to review my book deal.

Josh: 

I will make sure we get that out there and put in the show notes. Uh, yeah, this has been awesome. I really this has enlightened me in a lot of ways, because I’ve found naming to just be so tricky and I think it’s probably really common for people, when this is not something we have experience with, you may know an industry really well and want to start a business and that’s like, oh crap, okay, what am I going to call this thing? Uh, this is difficult stuff. So you, your service, alexandra, is a very needed and, uh, very important thing. So thank you for for doing what you do, cause this is super helpful, even just this podcast chat for me.

Alexandra: 

Um, my pleasure. Thanks, josh, great to be here.

Josh: 

All right, thanks again. So there we are, friends. I hope this helped give you some confidence and maybe shed a new light on the idea of naming your business, whether it’s naming what you have in place right now, or maybe a rebrand or anything in the future that you’re going to do. I hope this conversation is one that you’ll bookmark and that you’ll refer back to. Uh again, check out Alexandra and her website, her awesome team and all her resources at eatmywordscom. She is the author of the book how to create brand names that stick and I said it in the intro. I’ll say it again make sure to go, take her free name evaluation test. It really is a big benefit to the smile and scratch test of your name to make sure it’s sticky and make sure that it uh is an ideal breaker for you and your business moving forward. So that’s all over at eatmywordscom. All right, friends, the show notes for this episode are going to be at Josh Hallco slash three zero four until the next episode. Thanks for joining and I hope you enjoyed this one. Leave me a comment at Josh Hallco slash three zero four. I would love to hear what you think about this one, particularly if you go to her site and take her free name evaluation test. All right, friends, see you on the next episode.

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