Naming Your Product is Like Mad-Libs: I Picked the Word Edthena

In some respects, the challenge of naming your product is akin to an elementary-school-style Mad Libs:

  (any word)   is a platform for bringing observation and feedback online, using recorded video and specialized commenting tools. Our vision is to connect teachers to coaching anytime, anywhere.

Grab_Bag_Mad_Libs_book_detail[1].pngThe list of possibilities when you begin is unlimited. Literally.

At some point during name selection, I even took to the streets to poll random passersby. It was me, a clipboard, and a piece of white paper with words printed in an oversized, sans-serif font.

I don’t remember what my unscientific survey found. I realized shortly after the fact, that a random person with no context for education has little to add to the decision-making process.

At the end of the day, I wanted something that could be clearly defined as relating to education, and a name that could be built into a trusted brand around what we do.

While the list of options was originally long, in the end we settled on a word that is relatively short: Edthena.

You can’t look Edthena up in the dictionary

Branding experts have devised many ways of categorizing the types of brands. My goal here is not to analyze our type. It’s merely to explain our intent and meaning behind Edthena.

Let’s be clear, Edthena is a word that I made up.

We chose Edthena for a variety of reasons:

  • Edthena is similar to the name Athena, the goddess of courage and wisdom. I’d like to think that it takes courage and wisdom to become a great teacher.
  • Edthena is constructed like a person’s name. According to branding consultants, consumers identify better with brands that are people.
  • Edthena is only seven characters long. Quick and easy to write.
  • We could acquire all desired digital properties such as domain name, Facebook URL, Twitter handle, and even a toll-free number (855-EDTHENA)
  • A totally made-up word doesn’t exist on the Internet prior to your use. As people start to search for the word Edthena, the search results are more likely to be about our company.

The downside of a new word? People don’t know it when you first say it.

So, if I’m out socially and people ask me what our platform is called, I usually need to say, “Edthena. It’s like Athena, but ‘ed’ for education.”

But it seems to work perfectly now that I’ve said this sentence at least 10,000 times:

Edthena is a platform for bringing observation and feedback online using recorded video and specialized commenting tools. Our vision is to connect teachers to coaching anytime, anywhere.

Hopefully, once you’ve seen it or heard it, the name is hard to forget.

And then it gets away

In my recent post about mustaches, I mentioned that brand identities can’t be fully controlled.

We can’t seem to control how people write our name. It’s not EdThena or edThena. It’s Edthena.

What kind of non-word is Thena? I don’t understand.

Clearly, this is caused by the vast number of companies and products which now put “ed” in front of their names: edshelf, edLabs, edSeeds, EdJigsaw, edtrips, EdLights, EdSurge, edUpgrade, edetc…

But if that’s all we gave up by going with Edthena, then I think it’s still a winner.

In a future post… pulling apart the meaning of our logo.

Image credit: Mad Libs

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