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9 Steps to Name Your Online Course, Coaching Programme, or Any Other Business Thing

(don’t use this to name children or pets… I can’t be trusted with that)

Your brand new online course, coaching programme, membership or some other business thing needs a name before you can share it with the world. Let me help you with that.

Here are 9 steps to help the right name make itself known to you….. yes, already a bit woo, but we’re starting from the perspective that the right word combo already exists, and we need to make it really easy for that name to make its way to us.

Side note - this involves pen and paper because that’s how my brain works. If your mind is fully digital-compatible then use whatever application or software is your favourite for capturing and organising ideas.

#1 What’s the brief for the name

What do you want the name to achieve? Where is it going to be seen? What do you want the name to do? Is it going to short and snappy? Long and descriptive?

If it’s a name for your online course it needs to be:

  • Easy for people to remember and repeat so they can tell other people about it
  • Look good at the top of your sales page and on your course graphics
  • Be different from other people’s online course names

If it’s the name for the free thing that promotes your online course it needs to be:

  • Different to the course name, but compatible
  • Not totally give the game away about what’s inside the free thing.

If it’s the name for your online coaching programme:

  • Do you want to leave the name meaning to be quite broad to give you the flexibility to change the scope of your programme over time, without having to rebrand (online coaching programmes tend to evolve with experience)

Take a moment to imagine the new name of your course, or your online coaching programme, or your membership or whatever it is you’re naming…. imagine it in action. On your website. On your social media pages. On the tip of your tongue as you talk about it in a video.

Now write a short list of the qualities you want that name to have, and what you want it to achieve.

#2 Generate all the words

Grab a set of post-it notes or scraps of paper and write down all the words (one word per note) that you can think of that have the feeling or meaning that you want the name to communicate including words to describe:

  • what the thing is - is it a club, a book, an online course, a group programme
  • the problem it solves
  • the outcome it delivers
  • who it’s for
  • how you want the customer to feel about the offer/experience of working with you

#3 Make there be even more words

Go to (or whatever your preferred online thesaurus is) and find all the alternatives for those names that you also like.

Write those down too.

On separate pieces of paper.

One word per piece of paper.

#4 Make there be fewer words

You now have a sea of names and need to start ditching some…. take out:

a) Ones you don’t like

b) Ones that are used so often it they would make your name dull and samey

c) Ones that people often misunderstand, or would need to check the meaning of. Clear wins over clever every time.

#5 Group your favourite words together

Physically move post-it notes to the top of the lists if you like them and lower down if you’re not so keen.

#6 Keep your words safe

Somehow preserve your sea of post-it notes from roaming children/furries - either by putting it on a wall or transcribing onto paper, or taking a photo)

#7 Give yourself mental space

Set a future date (about 5 days tops) by which your new name will have made itself known and set the intention that by this date you will have the perfect name that represents (insert the feeling / message / values you want the name to evoke here)

You might want to write that down on a bigger piece of paper and put it at the top of your sea of words, so you’re reminded of the mission and the timeframe every time you look at your collection of potential-name-components.

#8 Wallow in the words

Glance at the sea of post-its multiple times per day.

You’ll start to fall in love with some and out of love with others.

Continue to eliminate and move around words as your heart desires.

#9 Test out possible contenders

Found a name you like? Then it needs to pass these tests:

  • Will you be able to confidently say it out loud in a sentence when it’s relevant without feeling like a total donut. Try it. Imagine being interviewed on a podcast, or talking to a potential client and telling them about your new thing…how does it feel on your tongue?
  • Will other people be able to confidently say it (or write it) without feeling like a massive donut? So they can ask about it, and share it with friends.
  • Google it to check it doesn’t means something you weren’t expecting….. (Golden Showers is not a great name for a high-end bathroom retailer)
  • You might want to also put the name in the search bars for Facebook and Instagram to see what comes up.

Legal Stuff

I am definitely not going to go there.

I’ve got you as far as having a name you love, that doesn’t appear to be used by other people.

Legal due diligence, trademark stuff is up to you.

Don’t get stuck on this

I know it feeeeeeels like you need to have the perfect name before you can possibly take any other action, but you don’t.

Start with a working title.

Scribbles was called ‘Course about writing with personality’ for about a year while I slowly gathered ideas and examples for it.

You can decide everything else about your brand new offer (help with building an Irresistible Offer here) and just use a working title, right up to the point you put the sales page live.

Bonus: Old video on my thoughts about Naming Things

This is a bit choppy because it’s taken from a group call and I had to take some bits out to protect the innocent, but there’s still some juicy goodness worth sharing in here, so I’m adding it for anyone who’s interested.



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