Aaron Gray // Greater Returns

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Musings on Web Analytics, product strategy + other stuff.

JanRain – Great Products (that Need New Names)

I’m a huge fan of JanRain and what they’re doing with their products, especially the RPX product (more on the products below).  I think there’s going to be a huge business here, and they’re poised to capture it.

That said, I’m not a huge fan of the product names themselves, and I wonder if they’re holding JanRain back a bit.  Meaningless letter names are a common, but less than ideal solution to the challenge of naming products.  They provide no clue for understanding the differences between the products and they’re not memorable.  A good product name should do both.  By contrast, the Company name, JanRain, is great…it is completely memorable.  Once you know about JanRain, you’ll never forget the name.  It does what a good company/brand name should do – stick in the mind.

Back to the products.  JanRain’s other product is OPX.  RPX and OPX.  One of the products allows site operators to accept logins via 3rd party credentials / OpenID (i.e. I can use my Facebook login to log onto your site), and receive authenticated profile data in the process.  The other product allows site operators to become a 3rd party credentials provider.   Any idea which does which?  Good product names in a multi-product company should pretty clearly explain what the products do.  If you can make them memorable all the better, but don’t go about trying to create new brands with your product names.  Your products are not brands.

So, I propose new names for JanRain’s products (not for the company).  Here are a few ideas I came up with while I was sitting here writing this:

Idea One

  • Provider – for becoming a 3rd party ID provider
  • Receiver – for accepting 3rd party ID log-ins

Idea Two

  • Maker – for making and providing 3rd party IDs
  • Collector – for accepting 3rd party IDs

Idea Three

  • Agent – for issuing branded 3rd party IDs
  • Turnstile – for effortlessly accepting 3rd party IDs

The first idea is so-so, I think.  It is simple and hints at the function of the product, and will help people understand what the products do as they are being explained.  It certainly allows you to understand the difference between the two products.

The second idea does this too, and it plays on the rain concept.  These names work as product names because they explain what the product does fairly generically, and, because there’s a bit of a concept behind them, they’re memorable.

I think I like the third idea best.  The names are illustrative and memorable, but are not invented words.  They don’t attempt to become brands.  They create a nice visual that helps you remember the function of the product, and they’re playful.  They’re not overly literal with the rain concept, but play loosely against it.  Rain is a part of the visual I get in my head when I think of these names.  I picture a rainy train station with an ticket agent handing out 3rd party IDs, and masses of people effortlessly passing through a bank of turnstiles into your site.

What do you think?  Any other ideas?  I’d love to hear them.  While you’re at it, check out JanRain.  If you’re a site operator, more and more of the visitors to your site are going to want to authenticate with existing credentials from a profile stored somewhere other than your site.  JanRain can enable you to do this, practically effortlessly.  The benefit to you, as a site operator, is that you get continuously updated authenticated-visitor profile data from the 3rd party credential provider.  Hard to beat that.

Filed under: Marketing

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