Lifelogging cameras challenge naming conventions

A photo of the white Narrative Clip lifelogging camera

The Memoto – or Narrative Clip

Modern Copy write about technology for quite a few commercial clients – we recently named Tesco’s THX electronic styling range, we’ve handled content for QinetiQ’s in-house magazine and we’ve just finished a project on cloud computing for a financial services client.

We’ve just finished writing a contribution for a newspaper about a new technology that could change many of our lives: lifelogging cameras.

Simply put, they’re wireless buttonhole cameras that take still photos of your everyday life – around 2000 photos a day.

The two main players are Autographer (launched last month) and Memoto (launching next month). Memoto, a Swedish company with venture backing, has just announced a last-minute name change to ‘Narrative Clip‘.

Let’s talk about names. Autographer is descriptive, evocative and classy. It tells you the owner is individual, has a mark to make in the world and wants to do it independently. It may sound a bit vintage to some, but the photographic link is clear.

Memoto is weird, but memorable. Again, it’s individual, but quirky and modern – nearly robotic, perhaps a touch of Japanese cool in there too. It rhymes with photo, but that’s a fairly weak connection.

Narrative Clip? The concept is to bring out the lifelogging aspect more, to accent the idea that your life is a story unfolding, a story that the camera helps you tell. The clip part has a double meaning. Firstly, it physically clips to your clothes. Secondly, it creates ‘clips’ in photos – but doesn’t that suggest it shoots movies, too? (It can’t shoot video.)

‘Narrative’ is now the company name, too, opening up more possibility for stretching the brand, but I’d say ‘Narrative Clip’ is a pretty dull effort compared to their previous product name.

We tested both cameras, and they’re fantastic, by the way. You can read what we thought in this weekend’s Sunday Times.




Naming and the problems of groupthink


Modern Copy were asked to help with a naming workshop at a large broadcaster recently. The workshop was run by Roy Langmaid, an organisational psychologist  with long experience of getting large groups into creative ways of thinking. Naming is a strange beast: the name is probably in the list you’ll create on the day, but often it’s hard to spot. The real issue is to get people to volunteer every idea that they have, out loud and in front of their peers.

Roy pinpoints three areas where brainstorming in large groups can often fall down.

1: Groupthink – A conformity and narrowing of ideas.

2: Production blocking – While one person is talking, others are blocked from creating.

3: Social loafing – Letting one talkative person do all the work while you sit and watch.

The answer lies in balancing individual and group delivery in a fast and enjoyable way, using the speed of lone working with the cleverness of crowds to strip out the fat. Interestingly, these three ideas seem most common when the group knows each other well and are comfortable in their places.

Perhaps this is the strongest reason you can have to hire in help when it comes to naming. Purely internal efforts are just a reflection of how you work in the everyday: using an external force to take a lead in speaking their mind and spilling out interesting views or opinions. They may not be right, and they may not have the depth of the experience in your field, but that’s missing the point.

Naming tricks and tools

Creating a name for a product is both incredibly simple and infernally difficult. A team can spend days, even weeks, researching, collating and sifting through material to invent the new name. They can go through a shortlist, develop concepts and tinker with spellings in a search for the right name for their product.


At Modern Copy we have a checklist of techniques to try out for naming projects. Different jobs need specific efforts, depending on whether it’s a new brand, a sub-range, or a renaming overhaul.


Professional naming agencies now employ computers to develop names, and can easily come up with a list of 800-1000 potentials. These often have nothing to do with what the client had mind, as Iran Bachrach of Namelab once revealed in an interview:  “We’re not really interested in what the client wants,” he says. “What we do reflects what the client needs. We have our own analytic system for looking at what the structure of a name should be, and actually, tend to ignore the client’s wishes.”


It’s a pretty sharp way of doing business. Finding what makes the client happy – even if they’re a bit surprised – is a far safer way, especially if your budget doesn’t run to the $75,000 that dedicated naming companies often require.


As David Ogilvy admits in Ogilvy on Advertising, “I have suggested names for dozens of new products, but have not yet had one accepted. Good luck to you.” You can certainly even up your chances of luck by deploying just a few key ideas as you cook up a new household word.



In other words, a true name. Like Jehovah, Jupiter or Jimmy Savile. They stick in the mind and humanise your product (whether you’d want to buy a Jimmy Savile is another question). Be careful if you’re inventing a character to stick the name on though – such tricks are easily seen through, especially if they end up in the realms of irony, and rapidly turn your product inauthentic and unattractive.



You can always try nonsense, as long as it somehow ‘feels’ right. This is more about linking sounds, alliteration and connotations to create a desired sense in the mind of the reader. ‘Pid’ means nothing to anyone – but an ‘iPid’ instantly suggests something. Or PidLid, for that matter. Just be prepared to promote, hard, to connect your function to the name.



In a crisis, get shouting. Words that blare out, staccato and fierce will capture the eye and work wonderfully on your layouts. You can be big and short at the same time. It’s the genius in Anglo-Saxon that delivers rampaging axe-blows to our cognitive functions: crack, smack, yell, akimbo, lust – all old English words that demand your attention.



Names don’t come from thin air, they come from people. People love naming things, so let them help: give a friend your shortlist without telling them what the product is and see what kind of a picture it paints for them. Talking about it makes the name real, not a flat 2D item on your screen. You learn if it’s hard to pronounce or just sounds embarrassing – remember who’s going to be asking for it in a shop or bar and see if you can visualise it happening.



Not literally, of course. But you have to be thorough about checking whether your name is truly available. That means checking with Companies House, the Intellectual Property Office and European Trade Mark Office. You’ll also need to check that the name isn’t being used by someone who’s not officially registered – they still have rights over it and can cause you pain. What’s getting harder now is the purchase of a relevant URL, too: dotcom addresses are depressingly thin on the ground, and spybots on search engines can even steal your name, register the URL and hike the price up without you even realising. Make sure you use a safe WHOIS search like the one at Or just contact us at Modern Copy and we’ll do it all for you.