Bill Simmons, the sportswriter and podcaster, recently launched a new site called The Ringer. In the first newsletter, Simmons discusses how difficult it was to find the right name, especially one that is easy to spell, easy to remember, unique, and available with a corresponding .com domain.

Sean Fennessey liked “Klique,” which sounds like Kanye’s ill-fated answer to Tidal. Chris Ryan pushed for “Klaxon,” which sounds like a new fiber cereal that might blow out your colon. I liked “Watershed,” which sounds like a financial-planning service that might advertise on my podcast. Eventually, I pivoted to “Heat Check,” then “Channel 33,” then “Chase the Night” — which I’ve loved ever since overhearing Worldwide Wes tell a young NBA player to go home instead of a strip joint because “you can’t chase the night.” What does this have to do with a website? I have no freaking idea….

Then, finally, progress! We all liked “The Leap.” Done. Finished. Well, right until our trademark lawyers swatted us, Mutombo style. No way. Can’t do it. Leap somewhere else. We found ourselves drifting back to “The Ringer,” partly because we liked it and partly out of pure, unadulterated desperation

See photo below, posted by Simmons on Facebook, showing the whiteboard they used.

Here are the key steps in the “namestorming” process:

  1. BRAINSTORM for names, characteristics, prefixes, suffices. Don’t focus on one possible name but come up with a few different ideas, or pieces of name,  dozens of variations or combinations. Have a message. What are you going to communicate to customers with your trademark?  A brand name can convey one or more of many characteristics, such as: trustworthy, fun, young, simple, conservative, bold, sexy, new, old, funny, fancy, rich, local, or corporate.  Before you focus on potential names, focus on the message you want that name to send.
  2. Narrow the list to several possibilities that you like. If you hone in on one name too early, and that name is not available, you will have a harder time letting go of it and considering alternatives, and you will be losing time.
  3. Consult with trademark attorney to see if names have potential.
  4. Choose one or two favorite names for a thorough trademark search.
  5. Check domain names.
  6. If a favored name is available, settle on it and acquire domain name and file trademark application with the USPTO based on “intent to use” the trademark.


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