Coming up with a name for our web-based project management service — Intervals — was a lengthy, creative exercise. We had to whittle our way through a list of do’s and don’ts to find a name that meant something, and a logo that could capture something more than the hallmarks of a fad. Here are some tips on how to name a product and design its logo, based on how we came up with the name and logo for Intervals.
First of all, don’t use an acronym; ABC, AAA, CX1, TTT, etc. Sure, it might be an acronym for something meaningful, like Terrific Time Tracking, but neither the acronym nor it’s counterpart say anything about your product beyond a generic label. And it’s just tacky. If you are selling something to creatives, and consider yourself a creative, than you need something better than an acronym.
Second, don’t choose a name just because the domain is available. And, related to that, don’t bastardize the spelling of a word just to get the domain. It was cool when flickr did it, but it’s not cool anymore. When you give priority to available domain names, you are saying that brand is less important than an exclusive domain name. A brand should be able to transcend all mediums of communication, including the internet.
Third, don’t design your logo based on what’s trendy now. Fads come and go. Your company shouldn’t. Make sure your brand is able to withstand shifts in trends. Gradients, drop shadows, and reflections are really cool now, but they are just Photoshop filters that anyone can use with the click of a button. Be original. We all agree the swoosh is dead, but now we have a new copycat logo, the atomic swoosh (a random grid of dots with a few of them connected, ala 37signals). Do something different with your logo besides being the first one to apply a gradient, reflection, and 3D perspective to the atomic swoosh.
Finally, try to find a name that says something about your product. Your idea may be buried deep in metaphor, but at least think it through. We needed a name that would say time tracking, task tracking, invoicing, and reporting, all components of project management. We also wanted something that would tie into the meaning and image of Pelago. We chose Intervals because of its nautical connotations, but mostly because our success as a business is defined by how well we manage our time. The better we track, schedule, and prioritize moments in time, the more successful our business. This is the message we are trying to deliver with our name and logo.