How to find the perfect name for your online course

Thinking of the content is easy, but when it comes time to name your course you find yourself at a loss for ideas. While it might be a challenge, the good news is that there are plenty of resources that can help you make this important branding decision.

In this post, I’ll share some best practices for naming your courses and modules in addition to some free resources that will help you get the creative juices flowing.

What’s in a name? The five styles of names

If you’re feeling stuck, I encourage you to think about which angle you wish to take. What emotions do you hope to produce in your clients when they hear the name of your course? What are some words that you would use to describe your course? Who is your ideal client?

I also recommend checking out one of my favorite resources for naming, Squadhelp to help clear up any doubts. While you can run your own naming contest, I recommend just browsing their available names and taking note of any words that jump out at you. In my own research, I found a helpful article on the site that explains the five styles of effective names. They break them up into these five categories:  

  • Classic: these names can be used to tell your clients what industry you are in (e.g. Christine Lindebak Studios)
  • Pragmatic: they make the value proposition clear to the consumer (e.g. PayPal, Planet Fitness, and Netflix)
  • Modern: names in this category take a seemingly unrelated object and tie it to the brand (e.g. Apple and Amazon)
  • Emotional: these are a powerful way to connect with clients and evoke emotions (e.g. Greenpeace)
  • Clever: these names are meant to catch the client’s eye and can be extremely memorable (e.g. Weight Watchers)

A Note on Clever/Quirky Names

If you want to stand out from the crowd and make sure your clients remember you, emotional or clever names to be very effective. Maybe your brand itself is a bit quirky and you want to make that clear. One name that comes to mind course that comes to mind is Abundant Alpaca Mastermind, a course by Susi Kaeufer. The name stuck with me, despite only having read the email and never actually signing up for the course.

However, before falling in love with a creative name, there are a few things to consider. Does the name make sense, or is it a bit far-fetched? You need to find a way to make your course name present in all of your materials, from the landing page to the course itself, and do so consistently. Having a clever name alone is not enough to be memorable. Check out Susie’s site to get a better idea of what I’m talking about. You’ll see pretty quickly that alpacas are everywhere!

For modules, however, I find that pragmatic or classic names work best. When your clients have access to your course you’ve already attracted them, so at this point it’s more about clarity. If you have multiple modules, you’ll want to make sure that it’s obvious from the name exactly what each one is about.

Now, it’s time to brainstorm

After settling on the name type, it’s time to do some brainstorming. This is where another favorite site of mine, RHYMEzone.com, comes in. This website allows you to type in any word and yield tons of results, from descriptive words to full phrases. Give it a try using the first words that come to mind when thinking of your course.

Once you’ve had a chance to play around with the site, I suggest getting organized and creating a quick word web. This is how I eventually found the name for my own course.

There are four simple steps to the brainstorming process

  1. Dedicate a page or section of your notebook, whiteboard or Word document to the following four sections: target market, results, method, and course category.
  2. Start with the target market section and try to think of some related words. For example, for my course, some of these words were email list and list building funnels.
  3. Next, move on to words related to results, or what your clients hope to achieve after putting your course content into practice. In my case, these words were list and gross sales.
  4. In the third box, write down words that relate to your method. What is the desired outcome for those taking your course? For my clients, the goal was to easily build an email list without having to put much time and effort behind it.
  5. Finally, after you’ve come up with the overall name for your course you need to decide which category it falls under. Is it a blueprint, maybe a masterclass?

The brainstorming phase may take some time, and the perfect name may not come to you right away. Feel free to step away from the drawing board if you need to. It also helps to draft up a few options then ask for feedback to ensure that your name creates interest, not confusion.

Additionally, be sure to check that the URL is available before settling on a name. This will save you from a headache if you wish to set up a custom domain later on (which you definitely should – I explain how to do it in this post).

Putting it all together

You have worked hard on creating great content for your online course, but don’t overlook the importance of naming it. The name is often the first thing your potential clients see about your course. View it as your first opportunity to draw them in and create interest.