How to choose a project name: 6 golden rules

11 Jun 2012 5min read

Team Discussion

Multiple authors

Whether it is a short due diligence exercise or a two-year full development programme, all our projects share a common feature: a project name. This name is usually the prerogative of the project manager and will be used within Team and by the client during the project. Its function is to ensure client confidence and help us manage multiple projects for many clients, but it is also an opportunity to express a bit of personality and ambition.

How to name a project

The quest for a project name is one of the most enjoyable points in the project life cycle; a rare moment, where the one in charge does not have to worry about timescales, budget or deliverables and can let his/her imagination take the lead, as long as the chosen name doesn’t upset or offend anybody. Below are a few guidelines we try to follow at Team.

6 golden rules for choosing a project name

1. Don’t make it sound as if you’re not committed – avoid names liked to well-known disasters such as Titanic, Hindenburg, or even the BBC TV series Casualty

2. Keep it polite – always check the name is not offending or rude in your client’s language – all project discussions shouldn’t be followed by giggles

3. Make it a little bit obscure – think outside the box so that it can’t be related to the actual work. We typically look at more than two steps. For example:

  • Project: breath-actuated inhaler
  • Trigger -> Roy Rogers
  • Project name: Elton (John, ‘Roy Rogers’ is a song from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road)

4. Keep it snappy – short, easily pronounced names are good

5. Avoid people’s names – you never know who could join the project team and this leads to all manner of confusion

6. Make it appealing to the client – go with a very English name for an Anglophile, a high-tech sounding one for a geek, an opera for an opera connoisseur, etc.

Team’s project names revealed

When it comes to choosing a project name at Team, they tend to fall into 5 key categories of inspiration. Dive into our thought processes to find inspiration for naming your next project.

1. Music to our ears

As all our project managers have a technical or scientific background, it is quite common that obscure engineering or physics links are found between the project and its name. The RaplixaSpray device development for ProFibrix relied on achieving ‘good vibrations’ to fluidise the powder, so the various project phases followed a Beach Boys theme (after their 60s chart hit).

Options included Wilson, a reference to Brian Wilson, co-founder of the group; Hawthorne, the Beach Boys’ home town in California; and finally Pendleton was the group’s original name.

2. Myths and legends

There are often references to Greek mythology in our project names: Bound, the OrganOx metra liver perfusion device, finds its origin in the story of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods to gift to humanity. This angered Zeus, so he punished Prometheus by having him bound to a rock and sending an eagle every day to eat his liver.

3. Pop culture

Sometimes, our project managers use their hobbies and interests as a source of inspiration for project names. For example, anime provided the inspiration behind the project name Ponyo for Sensile Medical.

4. Places

One of our project managers decided for a period of time to use the street names she had lived in to code her projects; among those, features project Beresford, which looked at enhancing usability and patient experience in an inhaler platform.

5. Teamwork

Project names can also be a joint effort with the client, as it was for Haselmeier’s Axis-D injector pen. The kick-off meeting was held in Stuttgart, home to both Haselmeier’s Development and Manufacturing Headquarters, and the Porsche museum. The legendary car manufacturer’s first name was Ferdinand, making it a great fit for the project.

How to name a project successfully

Naming a project is a fun activity when a project starts, and these examples have hopefully given you some insight on how diverse our inspiration is when it comes to how to choose a project name at Team.

Inevitably, clients express some interest in the origins of the name we have chosen for their project, and we delight in sharing our thought process. It means that a project starts off with a smile and at the same time we can show some of the personality that we have here at Team.

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