Choosing a name for a baby is both an art and a science. There are family histories, fads, demographics, and personalities to consider. The stakes are high. Not only will you say that name multiple times a day, you will say it most days for the rest of your life. Evidence shows that names can affect how a child performs in school. And a name can even effect their career opportunities.
Choosing the name for your company intranet is no different. Your intranets' name will impact the way employees interact with the network and the role it plays within your organization. Picking the right name could be the difference between active collaboration and poor communication, between engagement and dissatisfaction, between good and bad performance.
A sizeable majority of businesses today are using intranet software to connect employees and collect their knowledge. Why? Because the main alternative is email, which is inefficient and costly in equal measure. According to a McKinsey study, U.S. employees spend 28 percent of their workweek on email. Research from the University of California, Irvine revealed that email overload can elevate stress levels and reduce focus. An analysis from Contatta estimates that over $1.79 trillion is spent on business email per year.
Intranets provide a far superior way for employees to communicate and collaborate. In addition to cutting down on email, it also eliminates the drain of unnecessary meetings as well as the costs of searching for information, which IDC pegs as sucking up 30 percent of the workday.
The easier and more efficient it is for employees to communicate, the more productive, collaborative and innovative they will be. Therefore, it is no surprise that intranet platforms have emerged as one of the most important tools in an organization's technology stack. Selecting which intranet vendor to use is just the first decision of many. To extract the full benefits from the technology, care must also go into choosing the right name.
If you believe the screenshot above, your first question might be: Why do I even need to name my intranet?
There are a number of reasons.
Naming your intranet gives it an identity that draws people in and promotes adoption. The name will influence the way the intranet is perceived and used within the organization. The more employees put into an intranet, the more they get out of it, and they are not going to be inspired by the prospect of sharing their thoughts and ideas with a soulless technology system. When working right, an intranet is a living, breathing entity that meshes seamlessly into employees' every day work and invites engagement. A name makes it come alive.
Beyond its humanizing effects, naming helps distinguish the system from other systems and makes it easier to reference. Without it, employees could refer to it as "the intranet", but also as "the network", "the portal", or perhaps the name of the technology provider, like Communifire. An intranet name provides a common vocabulary.
Once you've made the decision to name your intranet, the next question is: What should I name it?
You should strive to come up with a name that embodies the culture of your organization and the place you want your intranet to hold within it. Key considerations include your main purpose for implementing the intranet and what it represents:
Your organization is equally important to consider.
This leads into the next consideration, which is:
The name has to fit within your existing company culture, as well as your ideal vision for it (these are not always the same).
Pondering all these questions will help you develop a clear and distinct idea of what you want your intranet to convey. A law firm and a startup will not have the same needs. Your intranet name should align with your corporate culture and style, reflect your goals, and engage your employees. It has to fit.
However, you also want the name to be catchy, and there may be names that fit your parameters but do not flow off the tongue. You want to avoid mouthful names that are too long or difficult to pronounce. You may work for an organization that deals with marine life, but that doesn't mean you want to name your intranet "anemone." For a healthcare organization, Asclepius (the God of health and medicine) may seem like a smart name, but no-one is going to casually rattle off that they are posting to "Asclepius." Shorter and easier to pronounce is generally better.
If your primary objective is employee engagement, the "-er" test can be useful for gauging viability. (Have you heard of "Belieber"? It's extremely cheezy, yet effective.) You can also use the hashtag test. Names that can be repurposed in many different ways will enable you to build a dynamic campaign around your intranet.
Just as a blank page can be daunting, so can trying to materialize a name out of thin air. There are a number of helpful starting points.
You can always follow the old standby of simply tacking the words "my" or "net" onto your company name. That's what we did and we came up with My.Axero (very poetic and creative, I know). However I wouldn't recommend going this route. These names tend to be generic, lacking a certain spark that will help your intranet catch on with employees. Investing the name with meaning is important for encouraging adoption.
One naming approach is to signify the goals or vision of your intranet. Think words like: connect, hub, pulse, gateway, link, edge, buzz or circle.
The most impactful names have a personal touch, so get creative.
Drawing inspiration from cultural elements that already exist is a great place to start.
You can also use your company's name or what it does for inspiration. For example, the San Diego Human Society & SPCA's intranet is named "Fetch." The North Face calls its intranet "Basecamp." Trip Advisor named its intranet "Passport." The opportunities here are endless.
A company with "wave" in its name could label its intranet "The Harbor" or a startup that delivers groceries could call its intranet "The Pantry." These names fit into the existing iconography of the company and have the added benefit of reflecting the intranet's goals as well.
Businesses can also adopt characters that are relevant to their organization. Greek mythology can be a good place to draw from, assuming the name is easy to say (i.e. Athena or Atlas, not Asclepius), as can popular culture. A company that extracts insights from data could call its intranet "Sherlock."
Acronyms are another way to go. The Tussauds Group calls its intranet "Tiggle," which stands for "Tussauds Intranet Global Gateway Linking Everyone"; De Beers Forevermark calls its internat "Sparkle," which stands for "System Providing Access to Research Knowledge Learning & Education."
If all else fails, go for an actual name, like Simon or Betty.
Names that lend themselves to images and branding are appealing because they will make it easy to design the intranet around that idea. Tying graphics to represent the intranet name visually can help it stick, and consistency is key. The aesthetics of the intranet should match the name, as well as your company.
You could make this as difficult as you want. Or you can make it easy. The "naming" industry is HUGE. There are companies and agencies out there that specialize in creating names for brands. Heres a few:
And there are all kinds of "naming generators" that you can play with. Here's a few:
And this article gives you some ideas on how to come up with a name.
With so many possibilities and ways to go, an effective method for narrowing the field is to solicit feedback from employees. Not only will this provide valuable insight into how they are thinking about the intranet, but it will also encourage engagement by giving employees a sense of ownership. Plus you may get some great ideas you wouldn't have thought of on your own. You can even turn name selection into a contest with prizes.
If you are worried that an open call for name ideas would be opening Pandora's box, then another approach is to have a team come up with a few options and survey employees for their favorite. In both cases, giving employees a voice in the process will help drive adoption.
Choosing the name is only the beginning. Once you've settled on what to call your company's intranet, then the real campaign begins. The key to driving adoption is reinforcement. You want to consistently and frequently use the name during the launch, in documents, and in conversations around the office. Don't hold back from marketing the name, like you would a product. Marketing materials are an effective way to cultivate the attitude you want around the intranet and getting employees excited about using it.
After going through the whole process of deciding to deploy a company intranet, choosing the right system, and implementing it within your organization, don't let all that time and effort go to waste with an uninspired name. Take advantage of naming as an opportunity to promote the values that you think are important. Use the name as a tool to achieve your goals.
Never underestimate the power of a name.
Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.
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