Naming Your Blog: Harder Than It Seems

In Blogging by SallyLeave a Comment

We recently changed the name of our blog.

If you were around, you probably saw the announcement of the new name. If this is your first time you might be surprised to know that Overland Undersea had a bit of a branding problem a while back (more about that in a minute).

"YUPPIES!" Leave it to Portlandia to pointedly describe what was wrong with the term "yuppies."

“YUPPIES.” Leave it to Portlandia to pointedly describe what was wrong with the term “yuppies.”

Even though we like both of the names we created for our blog and we’re comfortable with the decision to change it, finding our alternative wasn’t a painless process. Any type of branding or identity work is difficult and brain-intensive (unless you’re lucky enough to possess an industrious creative talent) and tearing down an existing brand while developing a new one was no exception.

From experience, here’s our advice on how to come up with a name for your blog.

Goodbye, Yuppies.

“Yuppies in Paradise” had a nice ring to it. It was easy to say, easy to introduce to others, and easy for us to latch onto. Which we did, when I first suggested the name two years prior to actually launching the blog.

“What about ‘Yuppies in Paradise?'” I suggested to Nikita one day during a discussion about starting a travel blog. I wouldn’t say it ‘popped into my head,’ but it definitely surfaced in my consciousness seemingly without prompting, like much of my writing.

Nikita liked it right away. “Yeah! Yeah, that’s a great name.” I’m not just rewriting things in my favor here, it actually went down that way. We quickly purchased the name and I let myself feel a sense of accomplishment without actually haven written a single word.

What’s in a Blog Name?

‘Yuppies in Paradise’ worked because it sounded great. The ‘in Paradise’ was a convenient, existing catchphrase to play on. And the ‘yuppies?’ Well, we were both working our 9 to 5 jobs then, far enough away from our travels that we were more invested in the irony of kind of actually being a yuppie than of thinking seriously about traveling and travel blogging.

How to BE a yuppie. Neat!

I never realized that not having Fresh Pasta was the only thing keeping me from becoming a fully realized yuppie.

‘Yuppies in Paradise’ also has satisfying verbal cadence- what I mean when I say it “had a nice ring to it.”

How things sound, how the words flow together when I hear them, or even think about them, has always been an important part of my writing. I’m a bit auditorially biased, to the point where I’ll favor sound over meaning in words and writing. In the case of our blog name, I let the way the name sounded leave a stronger impression on me than its potential meanings.

We tried not to be too literal about the usage of “yuppies,” but couldn’t escape the fact that most people that don’t know us might not get it. The negative connotation of being a yuppie just seemed too strong. One doubt led us down a spiral of second-guessing.

Friends’ and Family Reactions to “Yuppies in Paradise”

Perhaps “reaction” isn’t the right word. Of course friends and family were polite and encouraging about the name at first, but it wasn’t until after we decided to change it that we really tried to elicit some real feedback. Here’s some of the memorable ones:

“It’s like a Generation X explosion. ‘Yuppies’ isn’t a word people use anymore.”

“It’s kind of… empty…”

“It’s surprising that you chose that name, because you guys are definitely not yuppies.”

There was also the other side of the fence:

“‘Yuppies in Paradise’ is so catchy. Why would you want to change it?” This person also sent multiple different messages imploring us to keep the name. Those went ignored.

“You’re not yuppies, but I still like it. It’s fun.”

There were opinions on both side of the fence. Even as we requested feedback on on the current name in question, we also put forth more potentials. We were swamped with multiple opinions and viewpoints on the names, and became overwhelmed by all of the qualitative evidence now added to the mix.

Coming up with a New Blog Name

Once we both admitted that we did want to change our name, it was time to start the creative process of coming up with a new one.

Nikita has a bit of a wild west attitude when it came to finding a new name, running through as many ideas as possible just to get something on paper. Whereas I was more deliberate, finding a few ideas and then working through them until I had something I was comfortable showing someone. Because our approaches were so different, we became frustrated with one another pretty easily.

To mitigate this, we turned to alcohol to help us relax and “get in a more creative mindset.”

Man, that worked SO WELL. I'm going to start another travel blog just so I can use the name "Chunky tea." But seriously, I actually really like that name.

Man, that worked SO WELL. I’m going to start another travel blog just so I can use the name “Chunky tea.” But seriously, I actually really like that name.

In theory, this would seem to work, but our first try we found one name, became hooked on it and then couldn’t brainstorm anymore because I got tired and fell asleep. On the second try, we sustained our creativity a bit longer, but were fixated on silly names that didn’t make sense. That’s the trouble with trying to hack your creativity with substances.

Overland Undersea was something that again “surfaced.” This time, while I was driving somewhere, we were lucky that Nikita was inj the passenger seat and could take it down. From there we explored the concept and settled on it after getting good enough feedback from our circle of family and friends.

How to Brainstorm a Name for Your Blog

I’ll just say right now, coming up with names is hard as f—, but don’t let it scare you away from trying altogether. Here are some tricks I use to get started and move the process along.

  • Find resources of examples to start with. Brainstorming is made easier with the use of prompts. I usually have a web thesaurus open to find synonyms, as well as a way of finding out what trends in naming already exist in the field. Nomadic Samuel’s Top 100 Travel Blogs list was extremely helpful for this. Not because we wanted to find a blog name that sounded like it would make it to the top 100, but because we didn’t want to have a blog name that was too similar to someone else’s or easy to forget.
  • The hardest part is getting started. A lot of people whine about not being able “to think of anything” when it comes to titles and names. While some people are definitely more creative than others, creative brainstorming is a mental muscle that needs to be flexed like any other. And surprise, surprise, my advice is that you just have to set aside some time and force yourself to start doing it. Once you get past the initial 10 minutes or so of floundering, the ideas will start to flow and you’ll be less self conscious.
  • Write it all down. Write down ideas as you go. Write down words you like alone, and then try to piece it together with others that you like. Being able to look at the words on paper has always helped me and me groups in making new connections. Of course, be ready to take a good idea down whenever it emerges, regardless of whether you’re in a brainstorming session or in the shower.
  • Don’t over think it. I may seem a bit hypocritical here, but it’s important not to read too much into each idea. You need to be able to find the most common meanings people will associate with your idea, but you don’t have to have a name that will resonate perfectly with anyone and everyone. That just won’t happen. Especially in this day and age, so many names are taken, which has forced people to come up with more unusual names for brands and products. This isn’t a bad thing, and today’s blog audiences are probably more receptive to a more unique name anyway.
  • Always check on the availability of your name! If you find a name you like, always check its availability before getting too attached. The absolute worst outcome of a brainstorming session is finding a name that everyone loves, only to discover that someone else has already claimed it as their own. Because you’ll be naming digital property, called your domain, your name has to both work and be available as a .com.
    From a branding and marketing standpoint, you do want your name and domain to be the same. For instance, if you love the name, “My Travel Adventures,” but mytraveladventures.com is already taken, don’t try to change the domain to a .net , or rearrange the name in the domain to make it work. They need to be consistent so people will be able to find you later on.

When to Involve Others

Before traveling I worked in marketing and had to sit in on quite a few brand name “brainstorm sessions” during my time in that field. These were usually dreaded affairs, with 20% of the team pulling the weight of the brainstorming, uncreative types being generally useless, and of course, the Negative Nancy who doesn’t like anything, but is conveniently unable to suggest a single idea.

I have strong feelings about those meetings, but I’m glad I endured them at my job, rather than at my passion project.

Group brainstorming sessions with your friends can be fun but are so hard to keep on track. My advice is to work on the bulk of your brainstorming alone or with a single confidant and ask for feedback from a bigger group when you have a solid list of ideas in need of refinement. Feedback  from others can be really helpful on seeing your ideas in new ways, but it’s not the final say on your ideas. You know your vision best and get final say on what your blog is going to be called.

Is a Name that Important?

Your domain name is one of the first things you’ll create for your blog, and that can give it a disproportionate amount of importance in your creative process. Your blog’s content is really what will stick in people’s minds and make them return to your website again and again. So many blogs I come across have names that don’t really mean much to me, the reader, but they have content that’s memorable and speaks more to their voice and vision more than a name ever could.

Likewise, don’t stress too much about the name. If it works, resonates with you, and is available (don’t ever get set on a name that’s already been taken!), just go with it and close that chapter of your blogging book.

 

Coming up with names for your blog isn’t easy, but I hope this helps with the process. What do you think about finding a blog name? What do you think about ours? Let us know in the comments!

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