How to Test Your Startup Name

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So, you've got a new project or startup and you need to name it. You brainstorm a big list of words. You check domain name and trademark availability. And soon, you've narrowed it down to the provisional name, a name like ... Twitter.

WNYC interviewed the company's co-founder Jack Dorsey about how he ended up picking Twitter over its competitor, Twitch.

I like the word Twitch, but I felt really bad about it. I didn't feel bad about Twitter at all. I wrote it down a bunch of times. I drew it out. It just felt great. I knew that if I felt great about it, I could convince others to feel great about it, too.

I would say Jack executed a kind of "cringe test," in which he forced himself to say both names with a straight face and measured his own internal reaction. That's pretty much the way that I've done it, too (with Longshot Magazine or other projects).

I like that Jack wrote Twitter a bunch of times on (I assume) the principle that seeing it in black and white would clarify whether it had any cringe-inducing elements. Does anyone else have a more complex strategy or process?

Via Jody Avirgnan.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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