Tim Ferris’ Secret To Creating Can’t-Miss Product and Business Names

on December 20, 2017

Recently, my wife and I decided that it was time to refinish our deck. So off I went to the home improvement store and checked out my options. There were a lot of solvents to choose from. Too many. Finally, I settled on one product in particular. Which one did I pick?

30-Second Outdoor Cleaner.

Now, you can guess why I picked that one (and it worked great) but from a business perspective, all I can say is, is that a great name for a product, or what?

When Tim Ferris was writing his first book (about outsourcing) he didn’t know what to name it. He had a lot of different ideas and finally decided to poll his tribe to see which one they liked best. Of the choices given, what resonated best (and not the one that was his first choice) was the one that would help Tim create an empire:

The 4-Hour Workweek.

When naming your business (or product or book or whatever) you basically have three options.

  1. You can pick a basic name
  2. You can pick an odd name, or
  3. You can pick a name that tells the benefits of your business.

Let’s drill down into those and see why the last option is, by far, your best choice.

The basic name is something that a lot of small businesses choose — Smith & Sons, Diamond Dry Cleaners, that sort of thing. These are fine, if ordinary and completely forgettable names. The problem with choosing just a basic name is that as a small business, you cannot afford to be ordinary and forgettable. Choosing a name like that is a lost opportunity.

Second, you could pick the strange name, the different name. Think Xerox or Amazon.com. These can be great names for businesses because they are in fact different, and different is memorable.

But you will notice I said, “can be great names.” The problem with a unique name is that getting people to remember the odd business name takes one thing — money. If you don’t have a lot of money to get people to remember the unique name, they likely won’t remember it, and in that case, all you are going to have then is a business with an odd name that nobody remembers.

Which brings us to the third, and easily the best, option. The name with benefits. Why did I pick 30 Second Outdoor Cleaner? Because it was a great name, it told me the benefits, and 30 seconds sounded damn good to me.

When someone encounters your business, product, book or whatever for the first time, you have about three seconds, literally, to get them to take notice. That’s it. Especially these days. And that is why a bland name is such a missed opportunity.

Would you buy a book called Outsourcing Your Way to Success or The 4-Hour Workweek?

Would you buy a solvent called Smith & Sons Refinisher or 30 Second Outdoor Cleaner?


Here are a few other examples:

  • Jiffy Lube
  • Baja Fresh
  • Kwik-E-Mart
  • Gentle Dental

Names like these immediately tell you what the business is, yes, but more importantly, what you will get out of choosing that business.

So that’s the secret. Think about the benefits your business or product has to offer, the ones you want to emphasize, come up with a few apt adjectives describing those benefits, and add those into the name.

It may take more than 4 hours, but it will definitely make your workweek better.