What’s in a name? Ideas and inspiration for naming your intranet
Committing to a name for your intranet can be a daunting task. If you’re facing the fear of choosing a name that will please users and management alike, these outside-the-box approaches may inspire you to get started.
When it comes to naming your intranet, the stakes are high.
In just a word or two, you’re supposed to portray your company culture; inspire and motivate your employees; capture the purpose and role of your intranet. This is going to be the most-used buzzword (or words) on the lips of every employee, potentially for years to come. It’s the very brand of your intranet.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a name.
In the 15 years of Interact, we’ve seen some fantastic approaches to creating unique, memorable, and innovative intranet names that somehow bring an otherwise inanimate (and, let’s face it, often dry or uninspiring) piece of software to life, injecting personality and purpose. With the right name, you make it easier for users to identify with and engage with your intranet, making it more personable, approachable, and instilling a sense of ownership.
If you’re stuck for ideas or inspiration, take a look at some of our favorite approaches from our very own customers.
Getting an original name (while avoiding ‘Intranety McIntranet Face’)
When working with customers to drive adoption and engagement with an intranet project, one of the most popular approaches is to get staff involved in naming the intranet, usually with a competition or vote. This can prove a hugely successful way to get staff excited about the intranet – and you’ll often be surprised at the hidden geniuses lurking in your own staff!
However, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the legend of Boaty McBoatFace, it’s the potential (and often comical) repercussions a total lack of control or guidance can have in an open-ended contest situation. If you’re looking to balance out the process and retain some say over the final decision, consider having an internal team shortlist favorites and get staff to vote on a winner.
Giving staff a brief or overview on what you’re looking to gain from a name can also help steer things in the right direction. Are you looking for something fun, or something more corporate? Would you like the name to reflect your company values, your industry or purpose? What is the overall purpose or the main objectives of your intranet? With some basic starting points, you can hopefully remove the fear factor.
For some alternative approaches to naming your intranet, consider some of the more outside-the-box approaches below.
Naming your intranet after an employee
Does your business already have an ‘intranet’ in human form? Someone who is the foundation of all knowledge that everyone goes to for answers? An individual who embodies your values or what you stand for?
Naming your intranet after an employee may sound risky, but it can be a great testament to that individual and a powerful way to humanize your intranet.
Swagelok Scotland took this approach, naming their intranet after an employee of over 30 years, Ian Knowles. As the ‘go to’ staff member for information during that time, he was the human intranet for the business; naming their platform ‘Knowsley’ was seen as a fitting tribute to Ian when he came to retire from the business, while also hinting at the purpose of the intranet.
Thorntons Law took a spin on this approach, after a competition amongst staff – resulting in 130 entries – saw ‘JACK’ voted as the winning name for their new intranet. The reasoning was two-fold; not only was Jack the name of Thorntons’ Chairman, who was in his last term of tenure following 20 years at the head of the firm, but also an abbreviation for the primary goals of the intranet: “Just Ask: Communication and Knowledge”.
Naming your intranet after a character
If going for someone living and breathing isn’t for you, a fictitious character could be the answer. You can evolve a character into a full-on brand or bring it to life as a mascot, helping users connect with it – and, ultimately, your intranet.
Magenta Living took this route with a playful approach after creating the character YETI, who was also a fluffy toy. Employees are encouraged to take YETI on holiday and photograph their trips around the world, posting them to the intranet – a fun way to build engagement with the brand.
YETI is a character displayed prominently across our intranet. He is there as a friendly, recognisable face to help staff navigate across the intranet.
YETI has his own profile; he uploads information and writes his own blogs, he likes and comments on other people’s posts, blogs and forums, which helps create further buy-in with staff by corresponding with him directly.
We had a cuddly YETI made and we invited staff to take him on their holidays, day trips and conferences. He has visited some amazing places, including Hong Kong, Canada, Florida and the Dominican Republic, as well as the Grand Prix and the World Rally Championships. We upload YETI’s holiday pictures to the intranet for all staff to see. Having a YETI mascot has proven to be valuable to the success of our intranet.
Alternatively, why not base your character on something – or someone – relating to your industry, brand, or what you do?
This was the approach of both Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, who created an entire persona around ‘flo’, based on the nursing figure Florence Nightingale, and The International Federation of Accountants, who created ‘Luca’, named after Luca Pacioli – the Italian 15th century Friar and Mathematician commonly referred to as the ‘Father of Accounting’.
A pun on your industry
We all love a good pun or play on words; a tongue-in-cheek name that makes light of your industry can be a fun and inspiring way to approach the naming process.
We have several firm favorites sitting in this category; first up is the UK utilities company, South East Water, who decided to have fun with what they do and went for the name ‘Gurgle’. When users need something, they simply need to Gurgle it.
The UK Royal College of General Practitioners opted for a ‘very British’ approach and toyed with the well-known tea brand PG Tips, going for the tongue-in-cheek ‘GP Tips’. Meanwhile, Houston Zoo wanted the focus of their intranet purpose to be on connecting staff – a place where everybody meets. For a zoo full of animals, this was a no-brainer: and The Watering Hole was born.
One that always gets a few laughs (and is certainly memorable!) is that of US retailer Mattress Firm, who opted for ‘BEDPost’. Online appliances retailer AO.com decided to focus on their products and opted for ‘The Fridge’ – where all the ‘cool content’ can be found! (had to be done.)
Global tourism specialists Magic Memories, who capture photographic memories for visitors at tourist attractions around the world, opted for ‘Click’ as their intranet name; a play on their purpose, taking photographs, and their mission to get users to connect, or ‘click’ with one another.
Utilizing your brand
While an intranet brand is typically distinct from your external one, having some commonalities or a link between the two can help staff connect and engage with it. If there’s something distinctive about your organization’s brand – for example, a color, a slogan, a particular image – why not consider a spin-off for your intranet name?
This was the approach of UK children’s non-profit, The NSPCC, who have a distinctive and recognizable green brand color – leading to their intranet name of ‘The Green’. Not only does it link to the organization’s external brand, but also has connotation of a community-filled village green: a symbol of positivity and the outdoors, that helps communicate the culture and ethos of the non-profit.
A play on your intranet objectives
As part of your project, you’ll have outlined what it is you’re looking to gain or achieve from your intranet. You may have looked to your organization’s external mission, objectives, or values; perhaps you have feedback from management or users on what they’re looking for, or their vision for the project. Why not feed that into the name and brand?
For example, MidPen Housing – one of the US’s leading non-profit developers, owners, and managers of high-quality affordable housing – were looking for their intranet to provide a central point of information and communication for their users, which would guide them in their day-to-day roles. The result was ‘LightHouse’: a beacon for each and every employee.
Piedmont Healthcare was facing challenges due to a geographically dispersed workforce and the resulting siloes of information and people this created. Given their purpose, ‘to make a positive difference in every life we touch’, Piedmont needed to bring all those parts together to collaborative and communicate more effectively, ultimately to deliver outstanding standards of care. After a naming competition in which 450 suggestions were put forward, ‘The Village’ was the result: a spin-off from the proverb, “it takes a village”, which focuses on the collective responsibility of everyone.
Be inspired by where you work
Is there a location, landmark, or attraction near to your organization that could bring your intranet to life? Somewhere iconic and recognizable that would create that feeling of familiarity in your staff?
For the Royal College of Physicians, this came in the form of world famous Regents Park in London, which is overlooked by their head office. This spurred the suggestion of ‘Parklife’ for their intranet.
Wellington Airport are one of the more unique names we’ve come across – opting for numbers, rather than words. The reasoning was actually simple and resonated with staff: 16 and 34 are the names, or designations, of the brand’s two runways. “They are the reason we exist as a company, so 1634 is a very meaningful brand to our staff.”
London-based law firm Howard Kennedy actually incorporated not only a location, but their intranet objectives and a spin-off on a traditional name, after their internal steering group identified their primary goal as ‘bridge the gap of information’. As the organization was moving offices to London Bridge and undergoing a merger, ‘Bridge It’ was the clear winner. They even managed to play on the infamous book and movie series with their internal blog – called ‘Bridge It’s Diary’.
Morph your organization’s name
This one can be a tricky balance to get right; a clever play on a name can quickly become clumsy or simply ‘too much’, losing your employees if they find it too cheesy or ineffective. However, get it right and there’s a lot to be gained.
My favorite example of this comes from UK book retailer Waterstones, who have not only morphed their brand name but incorporated their intranet purpose and industry with the choice, ‘Watson’. The infamous sidekick and assistant to Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson is a reference to the passion of their users and customers – books – and their objective to make their intranet a handy assistant for every employee.
A simpler but equally effective approach can be seen in the examples from Breast Cancer Now and Canterbury City Council, both of which opt for appending the common my or I, inferring a sense of ownership for the user, with a part of their brand name: iNow for Breast Cancer Now, and iCAN for Canterbury City Council.
The Royal College of Nursing takes this one step further with ‘Your RCN Space’.
For the non-profit children’s hospice Acorns, this wasn’t a direct morph of their external name – but definitely a creative play, taken from a hybrid of ‘intranet’ and ‘nut’ to create ‘Intranut’.
We saw a great example of this approach before with Thornton’s JACK, but this is a creative approach that definitely deserves a mention of its own. If you have a defined purpose or objective for your intranet that can be abbreviated into a simple word, it will help keep that front-of-mind for your users.
For Staffordshire Housing, the result was Cake: Connect and Keep Engaging, which focused on the end-goal for users. Meanwhile CitySprint, a UK delivery and courier network provider, landed on Cecil: shorthand for ‘CitySprint Employee Collaboration and Innovation Lab’.
What’s in a name? Ask any parent about the pressure faced when deciding on one for their newborn, and you’ll soon understand just how much we attach to names; they can trigger a sense of attachment and pride; they can inspire us; they can define us. When it comes to your intranet, a name plays a pivotal role in driving adoption and engagement, and should ultimately become a central part of your internal vocabulary. It becomes associated with your values and culture, an embodiment of your brand and ethos. It’s a part of your project worth taking seriously and investing in.