How to Choose a Project Name: Tips & 10 Project Code Names


Most organizations use project names as they’re a quick way to remember projects and programs. Some project managers think those names should describe a project’s purpose or its main goals, while others simply choose cool or catchy project names to lighten up the mood in the organization.

While it can be challenging, creating project code names is a meaningful task that you and your team will value. Then, you’ll need project management software like ProjectManager to get the job done. ProjectManager lets you choose between a wide variety of project management tools such as Gantt charts, dashboards, timesheets, calendars, reports and much more. Get started for free today.

ProjectManager’s dashboards are ideal for managing projects, programs and portfolios. Learn more

How Do You Create a Project Name?

There are no right or wrong answers when creating a project name and no method either, which makes it difficult for some people. Today, there’s a lot of advice on how to name projects and even project code name generators online that are fun to use when starting a project. But we thought it’d be most instructive to look at key tips to create a project name, along with the best project code names of all time.

5 Tips to Create Project Names

A project name captures its essence and can create a sense of ownership in the team. However, creating a project name is much harder than it sounds. Here are some tips to spark your creativity.

1. Use a Project Name Generator

You might be out of ideas right when choosing a project name. In fact, most of us do. Luckily, there are some AI-based project code name generators that’ll make things easier. They’re capable of providing dozens of project names you can skim through. While these project name generators might not be perfect, they’re definitively a source of inspiration.

2. Brainstorm With Your Project Team

As always, you should welcome your team members’ ideas when naming your projects. Just like you, they’re involved in the project and can help you come up with great project name ideas that you might have missed.

3. Align Your Project Name With Your Organizational Culture

Coming up with a project name goes beyond choosing a cool or catchy name. It’s also important to factor in aspects of your organizational culture such as your brand tone, business name or company values. As a general rule, you don’t want to choose a project code name that goes against any of those.

4. Do a Trademark Check

Many projects involve the development of a final product. In those cases, you must be cautious about not using any registered trademark in order to avoid any negative consequences for your project. If you’re located in the United States, you can do a trademark search by using the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database. There are similar regulatory entities around the world.

5. Use a Theme for Your Project Names

In large organizations, most of the time your project will be part of a program or project portfolio. It’s important to consider that there should be a logical connection between project names. You could do this by using project names that follow a theme. A typical example of this is to name your projects after Greek mythology gods such as Zeus, Poseidon or Ares.

Now, let’s review 10 of the most famous project code names of all time.

Get your free

Project Plan Template

Use this free Project Plan Template for Word to manage your projects better.


10 Project Name Ideas from History

The military first started creating project code names for strategic reasons. Churchill himself, it was said, named the Normandy invasion and had his own code of sorts for how operations were to be named. Projects with a higher risk of casualty “ought not to be described by code words which imply a boastful or overconfident sentiment,” he penned. He also recommended avoiding names of “frivolous” characters and living people.

Project code names and project names then started expanding across industries, languages and continents and are now a common practice for most organizations. Here are some of the best project names from history.

1. Titan

Apple is mum, but Insiders report that the company is working on a car called “Titan,” slated to be road-ready in 2019. With a name that gigantic, buzz is already building about the features that may or may not rival Google’s self-driving cars.

2. Project Hanks

When Verizon Communications was looking to take over AOL, they needed to keep the deal secret and came up with a code name. According to the TelegraphProject Hanks is the name they chose, which may not make sense until you remember that Tom Hanks starred in the movie You’ve Got Mail (1998), a romantic comedy about a relationship built on AOL’s famous mail notification.

3. Kodiak

Unlike some other companies that have a codename and then change it to something else when it comes to market, in 2000, Apple developed its first version of Mac OS X with the codename Kodiak. It’s since followed that theme with updates with other powerful creatures of the wild, such as Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Leopard, Snow Leopard and Lion.

4. Code Talkers

This was the project name for the secret WWII program to recruit Cherokee, Creek, Choctow and other tribal members to transmit coded messages in Native American languages. It was also popularized in the Nicholas Cage classic of cinema, Windtalkers.

5. Project Blue Book

If you don’t already know, then you probably don’t have the clearance. But for the sake of disclosure, Project Blue Book was the code name for the US Air Force investigations into UFO sightings. But you didn’t hear that from us.

6. X Lab

They may have been known earlier for their unofficial slogan “Don’t be evil,” but that doesn’t mean Google doesn’t have a secret lair. At the company’s secret “X” Lab, projects like the Self-Driving Car and Google Glass are built under the cloak and veil of secrecy deserved by its uber-mysterious name.

7. Project 404

The code name for a covert US Air Force mission to Laos during the Vietnam War was to supply line crew technicians. Today, it’s the code name for a webpage that can no longer be found. Coincidence?

8. Manhattan Project

The super-secret project to develop an atomic bomb during World War II was a beehive of activity for some of the smartest minds at the time, but all they could come up with in terms of a name for their work was “Manhattan” because they began the research in a simple office building located in Manhattan, New York. They eventually moved to more secure environs out of the area, but the classy name remained.

9. Durango

When Microsoft was looking to build upon its wildly popular Xbox 360 gaming console, Durango was its name. But like all Microsoft projects, the project name was far from the final product name. In this case, they thought long and hard and hired the best people to release Xbox One.

10. Apollo

One of the most famous projects of the last century, the Apollo program, was designed to land humans on the moon and bring them back alive. It’s the kind of story more told in myth, which is maybe why NASA (an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration) went back to the Greeks. Apollo is associated with the Greek verb meaning to destroy. That may sound counterintuitive, but in Greek mythology Apollo, son of Zeus and Leto, twin of Artemis, was the god of prophecy, medicine, music, art, law, beauty and wisdom.

ProjectManager Turns Project Names Into Successful Project Plans

Once you’ve come up with a great codename, you need to start the project. The codenames of the projects we collected above are memorable because they were successful, and every great project begins with a plan. ProjectManager, our award-winning project management software, simplifies that process with online Gantt charts that turn your tasks into timelines for easy scoping. Keep projects on schedule and under budget with this visual tool.

Gantt chart in ProjectManager

Team Collaboration for Better Execution

The codename for a project is cool, but your team is your most valuable resource. ProjectManager frees them to be more productive. They can collaborate with each other at the task level, adding relevant files and images. They can even tag people and send out email alerts to keep everyone in the loop. Give your teams the tools they need to get the work done.

Kanban board in ProjectManager

ProjectManager has all that and more. Our software enables you and your team to deliver any kind of project in any kind of industry. Take a look at what we can offer your next project, then come up with a winning codename. Try ProjectManager for 30 days with this free trial.