Founder's blog: Name that noodle!
You can probably kill a startup by giving it the wrong name.
Here’s our naming story.
I was at Trader Joe’s doing market research, investigating what products consumers put into their baskets. I saw a man filling up his basket with instant noodle cups. He was clearly a potential future customer of mine, so I went to talk to him. I told him that I was working on launching a tasty but also healthy and environmentally friendly version of what he had in his basket, aka instant noodles 2.0. The man was interested, and guess what - he was even an expert in naming (likely only possible in Silicon Valley) - so even better.
I pitched him the name for my new noodles: N H U D L E. I explained that people will pronounce this as “noodle”, and that the first three letters are in fact my middle name “NHU”. I eagerly awaited his approval, but instead he replied that if my name isn’t Steve Jobs - nobody cares if the product name is my Vietnamese-Chinese middle name. He had valid points, so I went back to the drawing board, and continued noodling on the name.
Oodles of noodle names
A short while later, Renne Angelvuo from Win Win Design called me with his name idea and suggested: “I AM NOODLELIST!”. I liked the ring of that, but since the domain was taken, chef Petteri suggested we should drop the letter “L” in the middle and I discovered that www.noodelist.com was available too. Could Noodelist be THE name?
More consumer research ensued, which in practice meant that I talked to all the friends, colleagues and any family that would listen. Noodelist garnered thumbs up. It was interesting to hear how my Finnish friends pronounced the name phonetically, and I chuckled over a few Americans’ first reactions, which was “Nudist”.
I continued to bounce ideas off with one of the angel investors: Nordic Noodles, Nude Noodles, Naked Noodles, New Noodles or Newdle. But I kept coming back to the “I AM Noodelist”, it just seemed to embody what I was providing. Chef Petteri also spotted "deli" in Noodelist, plus it had the best attitude - and people liked it!
That was that - the name was Noodelist. I finally had my company and product name (and even the domain name too)!
Cooking up a logo (with a hat)
Next up was figuring out the logo. I gave the designer Henrik Angelvuo an example about my favorite name and logo, which was HackerOne with a logo of H+1. My vision was that the Noodelist logo should be minimalistic but at the same time immediately link to the word Noodelist. Henrik’s first attempt was to put “a hat” above the letter E and a dot under it.
Why, you ask? Because in the Vietnamese language, that letter E with accent mark or circumflex (â, î or ô) already exists, so he put the circumflex on top of letter N instead. I fell in love with his design as soon as I saw it. It felt like the pieces were coming together -instantly :)
What it means to be a Noodelist
Since soft-launching, some people have asked me what’s the symbolic meaning behind the name and logo? Maybe the logo is a compass pointing North towards the best noodles? Nice one, love it!
But my response is this: wear whatever hat you want to become. Whether it’s Noodel-IST, Pian-IST or Nobel-IST. And the dot under the N is like a happy mark. Because after a bowl of Noodelist, I hope it will bring a moment of joy and a smile on your face. And as I don’t have a dimple, but have always wanted one - everytime I smile on the camera, I make a fake dimple on my left cheek ;P - just like the logo! (Check out my picture above ;).
I hope you’ll join me in being a Noodelist - because it’s fun eating noodles. Plus - who doesn’t want noodles that taste good and are good for you too! I raise my hat for all the Noodelists out there! May you be happy & full!
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