Because we have an unusual business name, the following scenario is a common one.

Receptionist: May I ask who is calling?
Kay: This is Kay from Clever Starfish.
Receptionist: From where?

On the positive side, it’s a name that people don’t easily forget, and because it’s unusual, a lot of people ask where it came from.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a clever story to tell – our name is a testament to just how hard it is to find a good .com domain name.

The process of finding a name took a few weeks. We had a few requirements:

  • no typical “IT” signifiers in the name – so no com, web, net, interactive, media, or creative
  • no location-specific words
  • two words, and a minimum of three syllables all up
  • the .com and the versions of the name must be available

After initial frustrating hours trying to think of good names and then checking the domain name availability of each individually, we decided to come up with a system.

First we came up with a list of adjectives – positive descriptive words ranging from colours to words like super, special, and yes, clever. Then on a second list we came up with nouns – objects like cactus, flamingo, cube, and starfish. I wish I still had those lists, because while I’m having trouble remembering them all now, there were at least 50-100 words on each. We spent a whole week just adding random words to these lists. “Starfish” was actually something I saw on a shop sign as I was riding the bus, so I scribbled it down on the back of my ticket.

Then it was a matter of putting each word from list A next to each word from list B. Those that didn’t work were immediately thrown away, and those that had potential were put on a third list, which was then run through a mass domain name search tool.

Of those that sounded ok and were available, there was a third, very important test: the Google search. An early contender, “Proton Pill” – which instantly appealed to both Dave and I as fans of the 1980s cartoon Roger Ramjet – was thrown out after the Google test because of connections to er… “male enhancement products”. Not a good association for a new business!

At the end of this process, we had what seemed a clear winner: Clever Starfish. We registered the domain name straight away but it still took a few weeks of thinking it over, trying it out on friends and family, and writing it in different contexts until we were satisfied that we had our new business name.

And the great news is that after nearly four years, we still like it!