04 November 2023

Naming Products Is Hard

As you may know, last week I sort of quit my job to start a website monitoring service.

The key differentiators of that service are:

  1. “Done for you”—you just point us at your domain, and the monitoring just works… no configuration necessary.
  2. Capable of way more advanced checking than competing services, including running login, account creation, and ecommerce/billing flows against your live site.
  3. No false positives—all issues get reviewed by a human before alerting your team.

That service now has a name and a web site (yay!). If you’re interested, you can sign up there to get in on the early access program as soon as it’s ready.

I thought I’d share a bit about how I came to the name, and some of the challenges I ran into getting there.

If you’ve never tried to name a service, it’s kind of miserable. You’re putting your blood, sweat, and tears out into the world, and you have 2-4 words with which to pique someone’s attention enough to get them to look deeper into what you’re offering. The perfect name will:

  1. Communicate what your thing is or does
  2. Communicate why someone would want it
  3. Be memorable
  4. Not be a mouthful
  5. Have a matching domain available, ideally .com
  6. Be unique—not just among product names, but among all trademarks, which may include regional consultancies that use your would-be name as a tagline on leaflets at the local chamber of commerce (but I’m not bitter 😒)

It’s easy enough to satisfy some of those, but all of them is pretty much impossible. That’s led to me spending an absolutely embarrassing amount of time digging through trademark and domain registries trying to find the perfect name.

In my service’s short life, it’s gone through 3 names and 3 brand identities. First, I was calling it “Is Prod Okay?”, a name I rather like for appealing to SaaS folks, but I worried the name would be alienating if it turned out that ecommerce shops running something like WordPress were a better client base. Next, it was just called “Site Monitor.” It certainly communicates what the thing does, and I did like the potential SEO benefits of the name being an exact match for a bottom-of-funnel search term. Ultimately, though, that name leaves a lot to be desired on the branding front… it certainly doesn’t communicate the benefits of the service or what makes it unique from dozens of competitors.

Then, inspired by a discussion with Andrei Soroker on Elixir Outlaws, I wanted to call it “SleepWell.” That did a good job of explaining the benefits—you can have confidence your site’s core flows are working as intended—but unfortunately there’s already a company in the monitoring space using the name. Same goes for “RestAssured” and other variants.

That’s how I got to “SleepEasy.” I’m not in love with the name (a friend teased that it sounds like a bad translation), but it’ll do for now. It gets at the benefits, and you certainly can’t fault it be not being unique. There are still a handful of names I’m kicking around that I might eventually pivot to, but for now, I have to cut myself off and get back to building the damn thing. An imperfect name won’t make or break the service, but not getting it in front of customers will. I’m steeling myself for a future “SleepEasy is now _________” email, though. 🤪

I’m definitely interested to hear any feedback you might have on either the name or the site!