How To Choose A Company Name

In a conversation with a former branding specialist last weekend, she mentioned people usually came to her at the last minute for their company name. They would have their slogan, logo, website, packaging, and product all ready to go - but no company name. She explained this was because people would always think the name was the easiest part, so they wouldn't hire professionals to come up with it since they expected it would come to them before their launch. However, without fail she would get a last minute phone call from the client saying they needed her to come up with a name 24 hours before their launch.

I can honestly say I made the same naive assumption that the naming process would be easy when in reality it turned out to be the longest process in preparing Modern Gender for launch.

So how do you choose a project name?

1. Lots of Bad Ideas

First, you should write down every combination of words you can think of - every word you ever thought 'sounded cool'. Type the words out line by line and try to identify what you like and don't like about each of them.

Personally, I liked the look of two words together better than just one, I liked the combination of [adjective] [noun]. My first short list of names consisted of: Gender Bandits, The Gender Network, Toronto Gender Network, The Trans Network, Gender Expressed
Modern Gender hadn't even been on my mind yet for the first 3 months of ideation.

2. Think Like Your Audience

You should already know what your goals are with your project, so use your mission statement to pull out keywords your audience will be searching for when they are in-market for your product or service - or words they will easily associate with your concept.

I wanted to create a project that showcased the multitude of ways people express their gender. And since these goals required community involvement, I needed to ensure people would be able to find my project. With that in mind, I needed to make sure people would know what they had found just from hearing/reading the name. 
If Modern Gender was called Kaleidoscope Dreams because it sounded cool and offered strong visual associations, anyone who found it would have a hard time guessing that the project was actually about gender.

3. Wait for Inspiration

It's true when people say inspiration can come from unlikely sources - sometimes you need to stop thinking about something in order to get the perspective you need. Instead of locking yourself up in your home office brainstorming, try going for a walk or going to an event in your community.

When I finally thought of Modern Gender, I wasn't doing any type of work on the project. I was sitting with my roommates flipping through a stack of magazines for an art project. We were discussing what our own magazines would be about if we had to make one and as I was answering, inspiration found me. I said my magazine would be written in a similar voice to Cosmo, but without a specific gender focus.

And while my future magazine is currently on the back burner, I realized that Modern Gender, the photography project centred around gender expression, is deeply connected to my love of exaggerated, gendered writing.

I wanted to start photographing real people's expression of gender because I saw a lack of representation in a number of magazines, but the thing is, those magazines used to be very accurate representation for me. So in a sense, magazines are Outdated Gender, and I'm on my way to document something a little more modern.