How to Use AI to Generate Names for Your Startup
A professional name developer (me) suggesting that you use AI to generate names? Blasphemy!
Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash
Yes, it’s true. I’m suggesting that you use AI to generate names. NOTE: I emphasized the word generate because I am not suggesting that you use AI to analyze or choose the name you will use.
I’ve always said the hard part of being a professional name developer is not generating names, but rather deciding on the best names from a massive list of names. The reality is you should not have a hard time generating names, but most of us don’t know how to pick the perfect name from the masses. That is why you pay a professional name developer!
But many people cannot afford to hire a professional name developer, and that is why a lot of people are jumping on the “AI Name Generation” bandwagon. And frankly, I know many name developers who use AI to generate names to round out the effort of human name generators (myself included).
The good news? AI is really good at generating names if, and only if, you provide it with proper direction.
The bad news? You will be inundated with names. So many names. You will feel like you are trying to get a drink from a fire hose. So the new challenge becomes “how do I choose the right name?”
Fortunately, there is a straightforward process to make AI work for you.
Step 1: Proper Direction
Giving AI proper direction to generate relevant names is not easy. In fact, “Prompt Engineers,” people who spend their day coaxing AI to produce better results, are a hot career option right now.
If you are not an AI whisperer, fear not. You can leverage the knowledge of others by looking at sample AI prompts on this website. Once you get the idea of what makes a good prompt, you can develop one for your name generation exercise.
I strongly suggest that you provide AI with as much strategic information on your naming task as you can. I would include specifics on your target audience, the market in which you compete, your unique selling proposition, the brand personality, and much more. If you want to get a better understanding of the strategic elements of the naming effort, you can check out my DIY Naming book (https://diynaming.com/).
I’ve constructed a sample prompt for you below (the product is a novel toilet plunger and the info below is totally made up). I used this prompt with ChatGPT and got the following:
ME: You are a professional naming expert with great skill in developing names. Come up with ten names for a toilet plunger that indicate the plunger minimizes the effort to clear a clogged toilet. Unlike other toilet plungers, you just have to push once and the clog is cleared. While other toilet plungers talk about power, we want to talk about easy to use. The toilet plunger will likely be purchased by men aged 25 to 65 at a home improvement store such as Home Depot or Lowe’s. Please give the meaning behind each name and your rationale for recommending each name.
CHATGPT: Sure, here are ten name options for a toilet plunger that minimizes the effort required to clear a clogged toilet:
- EasyPush: This name highlights the ease of use by emphasizing that all it takes is one push to clear a clogged toilet.
- OnePush: This name is simple and straightforward, emphasizing that users only need to push the plunger once to clear the clog.
- QuickClear: This name highlights the speed and ease of clearing a clog with this plunger, with the emphasis on “quick” and “clear.”
- Effortless: This name emphasizes that the plunger requires minimal effort to use and clears clogs easily.
- PushClear: This name combines the action required to use the plunger with the end result of clearing the clog, emphasizing that all it takes is one push to clear a clogged toilet.
- ClogEase: This name combines the words “clog” and “ease” to emphasize the easy-to-use nature of the plunger.
- SwiftPlunge: This name emphasizes the speed and efficiency of the plunger, with the word “swift” conveying a sense of quickness.
- OneShot: This name is concise and memorable, emphasizing that users only need to use the plunger once to clear the clog.
- SmoothClear: This name combines the ideas of ease and efficiency, emphasizing that the plunger provides a smooth and easy way to clear a clogged toilet.
- EasyClear: This name is simple and straightforward, emphasizing the ease of use and the end result of a clear toilet.
Overall, these names focus on the ease of use and efficiency of the plunger, with names like EasyPush, QuickClear, and ClogEase emphasizing the ease of clearing clogs, while names like OnePush and OneShot emphasize the minimal effort required. Names like Effortless and SmoothClear combine both ideas to emphasize both the ease and efficiency of the plunger.
So how did ChatGPT do? I’d give it a B minus. If you are looking for functional names that indicate the benefits, then you might score it higher. But there is no “Swiffer” equivalent here. Of course, you could tweak your prompt and try again until you get a healthy list of names that you like.
NOTE: I’m guessing that none of these names would pass trademark clearance, as functional names saturate most markets.
Step 2: Sorting and Screening
Once you get a list of ten names you like, you might want to pause and evaluate. There are 4 important evaluation steps you must complete:
1. Does the name align with your strategy? Does it address the needs of your target audience? Does it hint at your point-of-difference? Perhaps it suggests a rationale for the product. Is the brand personality expressed in the name?
2. Is the name clearly differentiated versus your competition? Does the name sound like your competitor’s name? Would people confuse the two? If you put your name on a competitor’s product, would it work?
3. Is the name available from a trademark standpoint? You can’t mess around with this one. You must see if the name is in use elsewhere. If you do a Google search and see someone else using the name, then in general you can’t use it. You should also examine the US Trademark Office records here: uspto.gov.
4. What does your target market think of the name? The best way to validate your name is to ask your target audience what they think. Big companies would commission a several thousand-dollar market research study to accomplish this task. You can do this for a fraction of the cost by using a cost-effective research tool like 1Q (https://site.1q.com/). Simply ask the following question using your final name selections, and you can get results for as little as $1 per question per respondent:
We’ve created a new toilet bowl plunger that minimizes the effort to clear a clogged toilet. What should we call it?
b. Magic Plunger
c. Perfect Plunge
You can spend $100 and get a good understanding of which names rise to the top from 100 members of your target audience.
If you need more details, each of these steps are covered in detail in my DIY Naming book.
Step 3: Decide
This one is easy! Simply use the Name Evaluation Tool (available free at https://payhip.com/b/VkI56 ) to score the name you have chosen. If your name scores well then you could be done! If not, rinse and repeat!
You can use AI to help you develop a winning name! If you need further assistance, feel free to reach me at www.NameFlash.com!