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How do you name your community?

Community names 101

I was recently listening to the brilliant Brian Oblinger and Erica Kuhl’s podcast “In before the lock” and they recently discussed how to name your community (full episode via this link). 

This is a very common question for those starting a new community.

How do you come up with the name? A lot of community managers can get stuck at this moment.

You may become obsessed and fear moving forward unless it’s “perfect”. Erica Kuhl makes a really good point during the podcast:

It’s not necessarily about the name, it’s what goes on inside the community. It’s the connections, programs… and all the good things that happen”  – Erica Kuhl

If you need help with what goes on inside the community, you should check out my previous blog post “Where do you start” and make sure you can answer all the questions over there first.

There are different ways to approach naming of the community.  

Most importantly: don’t “force” the name. 

You really have to understand what would resonate with members. 

Here are some options as explained by Brian and Erica below. 

If you’re in doubt with what to name your community (i.e. you can’t think of a “cool” name or worried it won’t resonate with members), go with the first option below (pragmatic) to be safe. 

Pragmatic naming

Named after the brand, product, tool, service etc. 

Examples: Chaordix Community (URLs are usually community.chaordix.com or chaordix.com/community)

When you would use this: still the go-to for many communities as it is easy for members to find you, especially if you can’t create something that is super relevant and interesting to members. This could be a great starting point, and your name can evolve into something more creative/interesting as your community grows. 

"Modern" naming

Named after a movement or creating personas around a group of people, more of a “fresh”, “cool” vibe

Examples: “Harmony Central”, “Indiehackers”, “Weekend Club”

When you would use this: a company may own this but it’s more industry based or around a group of people.  Who is this for and the persona name is around the people. 

Emotional naming

The name is emotionally connected to what your members are experiencing.

Examples: “What to expect when expecting” community, “Humans of New York”

When you would use this: This is about more than simply the company that owns this community, it’s for people that are going through big emotional stages in their life. 

"Clever" naming

Alliteration, plays on words, inside jokes, interesting/unique uses of words, there is a mantra that goes with this to explain it (a one-liner to help you define the genesis of the community).

Examples: “Domo Dojo”, “Trailblazers”

When you would use this: The community typically considers themselves these names before the community name is even created.

Classic naming

When there’s history in your community, you should go with the classic name for what has been used in your community for many years.

Examples: “Toastmasters”

When you would use this: The community typically has history and the name of the organization is instantly recognizable and holds such stature that you wouldn’t name the community anything else. 

Some more community name examples

Pragmatic

The Duolingo community

Headspace community

Hubspot community

Steam community

Lululemon 

 

Modern

Makerpad

OnDeck

General Assembly

Beauty Insider (Sephora)

Startup Nation

Emotional

PowerToFly

The Bump

(These are movements but Time’s up, Black Lives Matter, #metoo are examples of names with emotion)

 

Clever

Model Mayhem

Spotify Rockstars

Wall Street Bets

Mom365

 

 

Classic

Toastmasters

Golden Key Society

Rotary Club (named “My Rotary”

FIFA

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