This is a short series on my journey from “Hey, this might be a neat idea” to “Look what we just did.” (Hopefully, anyway. There’s always a solid chance that I fail gloriously and publicly.) Here’s Part 1 (with a greater explanation), Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.
three months in >>>
I hop in the shower after a particularly hectic Thursday (Thursdays are wild as a rule, right?) to decompress. I do this thing where I turn off the lights and stand in hot water and I tend to find it therapeutic since I’m essentially ‘resting’ two of my senses (sight and sound).
As I wash my hair and work on a particularly stubborn tangle, I think about the past few weeks.
Let me tell you about naming an app.
It is the worst, giant-est, biggest pain in the ass. Worse than choosing a name for a child (first one was Remmy) or a puppy (future name on reserve is Gus) or Twitter handle (it’s just my name; I’m crazy boring).
There are a lot of parameters I have to take into consideration. The perfect app name is easy to spell, memorable, isn’t already taken, makes sense, and preferably, has some sort of URL surrounding it.
If my friend in Vermont names his baby Frappe because it sounds cool, and I want to name my baby Frappe because it sounds cool, it’s well within my right. I mean, how many Madisons or Avas or Aidens do your kids sit with at lunch, anyway?
But ::punches air:: I can’t ::continues punching air:: name my app Chomp ::adding kicking, which is fine because I’m seated:: because there are other apps named Chomp.
I mean, I could name it ‘Chomp – the app for the food allergy community’ to get around that nonsense, but that means you have to scroll awhile to get to it in the app store. Which is similar to ending up on the third page of a Google search. Disastrous.
Naming things — brands, products, companies — is part of what I do, which is making this even more wildly frustrating. The cobbler’s kid has no shoes. The copywriter’s brand has no cool name. Case in point, I’ve named this particular website three times. But it’s been NBD to me since it’s just my own website, and I don’t have thousands and thousands of investor dollars on the line.
This, of course, is different.
I use Chomp as the placeholder name in all of the rough draft designs (which are indeed rough) for the investor deck.
We need to name the app first, because it’s going to affect the branding, and the branding’s going to affect the app design, and so on. It’s a wild and crazy domino effect and I need to get it together. After a million texts, phone calls, and annoying everyone on my gchat contact list, we decide on a name.
Yaaaaassss, amennnnnn, throw some glitter, wave some palm fronds around, #whipdance it out, eat Cheetos all day. Zach is excited. Alayna is excited. Jessie is excited. My nonexistent dog was excited. Obama is excited. My desk lamp is excited. We have a name and it is a really good one.
On a video chat with the guys at Lightning Kite, I beam at them and say,
“We have a name! Snack Rack.” :D :D :D
I see them pause.
“Roo, are you afraid when people see Snack Rack they’re going to think of rack?”
I’m in heavy thinky face mode, and while I like to think I get cozy and comfortable and lack boundaries among friends and colleagues, the relationship with Lightning Kite is new. Tenuous. I’m staring at three men in a small office a couple thousand miles away.
“Do you mean, like, breasts?” I ask, confused. “Because I think of going into a grocery store and seeing a rack of snacks.”
“Zach,” I say later via text. “When you see Snack Rack do you think of breasts?”
“Not until just this second, no.”
“I really like Snack Rack. It’s short, easy to spell, say, and the rhyming factor is super cool.”
“And, you know, even if people associate Snack Rack with racks, I think I’m okay with it.”
“Now you’re getting it.”
Thankfully the Lightning Kite team and I quickly stopped blushing via video chat, although when Seth, one of the designers, expressed dismay at Snack Rack and suggested naming it Snack Scan (ughh boring zzzzz), I jokingly threatened to demand that the logo be a delicate little bra.
Seth clutched his pearls and needed a paper fan, so I stopped joking with him after that.
But then Seth discovered that I’m super, crazy particular about design (as any designer who has ever worked with me will lament), but I just want it right.
“When Remmy was first diagnosed with food allergies, I immediately went online to find support. The websites were either really rigid (think WebMD) or a little too alternative / crunchy (just give your child tree bark, etc),” I give Seth some backstory. “This is why I launched Scratch or Sniff. I wanted a website that is informative and is also branded cool; connects to a reader. My two top priorities for this app is that it carries out a couple of functions very, very well and is also really beautiful.”
I am all up on Lightning Kite, every day, sometimes multiple times a day, trying to nail down the branding. Stephen, the project manager assigned to Snack Rack, is in heavy rotation in my gchat.
Seth sends designs; I send feedback to Stephen and Seth. Seth sends more designs; I send more feedback to Stephen and Seth.
We end up deciding on blues and greens, although there’s still a special place in my heart for the corals and reds.
Seth continues to work on the design, I hack around in Photoshop, and the three of us compare notes. It’s starting to really come along, and the excitement has me simultaneously grinning from ear to ear and hunched over my keyboard making changes so it is just perfect.
We end up getting some of that coral I love there in the design and I am thrilled. We’re using these cute snacky icons as placeholders just to see what it would be like to add more color to the app. Then we update them to smoosh them a little closer together. Then play with a patterned background.
Oooh. Yeaaaa. So hot right now.
The design is just about done; the developers are working on the technical side of the app, and it looks like Snack Rack can be live (in beta version, anyway) in a couple of months.
As I wash my hair, a growing sense of dread forms in the pit of my stomach. It had started small, maybe, a couple weeks prior, and I had ignored it because — well, I’m starting something new; I’m always feeling a little bit like I’m going to vomit — but as I let borderline scalding water hit my back, I realize that it’s more than just the baseline “oh $%&# what am I actually doing?” feeling.
I figure it out. I realize what’s bothering me, and I have to act fast. Shut off the water. Towel off. Beeline for my phone. Zach doesn’t answer, but he calls back right away.
“Hey, Roo, sorry I missed your call,” he says.
“Hi. We can’t name it Snack Rack.”