Category Archives: Name Creation

Naming tip: number 67 in a series

I’m not one to follow fads.

But I’ve noticed a trend that I think is beneficial for anyone naming a brand, particularly for business names.

Watch what the web-based businesses are doing. I think they’re doing things right.

The first thing is a very basic admonition: don’t use more than two words in your name. Three-word names turn into alphabet soup because people will shorten those multi-syllabic mouthfuls by using the name’s initials, losing any identification and humanity the original name might have possessed.

Next; attempt to use single or two-syllable words instead of three or more syllables.

Then let the new name infer rather than describe. Inevitably when a name describes a product or service it becomes very serious and doesn’t reflect the personality of the brand. This the web businesses do particularly well.

Now for some examples, many of which have become household names in a matter of months. I’ll leave out the most well-known (Google and Yahoo) even though I believe those two are particularly responsible for the trend toward short and active names.

  • YouTube
  • Technorati
  • Propeller
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • SpicyPage
  • Twitter
  • FeedBlitz
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • BlogPulse
  • Spurl
  • Simpy
  • NewsVine
  • Kaboodle
  • IceRocket
  • Furl
  • Dosh Dosh
  • Bark
  • NetScape
  • Camtasia
  • BlogLines
  • FaceBook
  • MySpace
  • SlideShare

Well that’s enough.

Now I know that many of these companies opted for a short name because they wanted a name that people could remember when they typed a domain name to access the web site. And there certainly wanted an unusual name that was available as a domain name. This is valid.

But the end result are short, unique and memorable names. These are the types of brand names that will also be effective in off-line environments as well.

Martin Jelsema
303-242-5975

Naming tip: Number 66 in a series

Alphabet soup, no. A well thought out acronym, possibly.

Generally, I’m not opposed to acronyms. If we stick with the most stringent definition, “A word formed from the initial letters of a name” (NASA, RAM); or a more lenient definition, “A word formed by combining initial letters or parts of a series of words” (WAC for Women’s Army Corps), RADAR for radio detecting and ranging), I believe a name like that might be viable.

This is especially true when a name like Federal Express that’s developed recognition and a loyal following is shortened to FedEx out of familiarity, and retains a link to the original. It’s not so true when the original words have no recognition. Then the acronym was no relationship or connotation to the consumer.

Now a string of three initials that DO NOT form a word (where each letter must be pronounced – IBM, CIA) is not an acronym. These types of names should be avoided altogether. They just don’t have any personality, and until they are firmly established, over time and at great expense, no relevance. IBM had the money and the exposure to turn International Business Machines into IBM without losing the company’s heritage and panache.

But how can you embrace CRW? In addition, these name types are not memorable. They are just three random letters to most people.

There is a subset of initial-grown names that can work. Over time certain phrases have been shortened to initials and over time those initials become familiar shorthand for the original phrases. Examples: RPM, VIP, MVP. If a set of initials that carry an attribute that’s appropriate (and not already snared by a competitor), I’d say jump on it. It’s a rare occurrence when product and available initials align.

I have compiled a list of such initials-with-meaning “ initial sets. If you’d like one, just email me at martin@signaturestrategies.com, or leave your request in the comment box below.

Martin Jelsema

Naming tips: number 65 in a series

Finding qualified help to name your brand can be tricky.

It’s also the smart way to go unless you’ve had extensive naming experience.

If you go to a graphics design firm or a PR firm you’re likely to get a reluctant “yes” to the question for help. But by and large they are not qualified, are not experienced, have not specialized in brand naming.

Ad agencies may fair a little better, but thet, too, are not naming specialists. As Mike Myatt of N2growth put it, “They may dabble in the practice, but you’ll find that it is rarely a competency.

That leaves companies and individuals with experience in naming companies, products and services. But experience it turns out isn’t enough. There’s a range of approaches to naming, from the completely predicatable old-line firms to the Avant-garde boutiques offering you the latest fads.

Here’s Mike’s advice in selecting a naming firm: First, review their portfolio. Make sure there’s diversity of client and variety of naming “styles”.

Second, find a firm that’s collaborative. After all, it’s your name, reflecting your company’s personality. Mike puts it this way: “Great naming firms achieve success based upon their ability to align their talent with the client’s vision.”

I’d add one more way to qualify a naming company: check out their own name. Just as ad agencies are notorious for naming their agency after its founders, naming consultants tend to be just as ego-driven. Find one whose name suits the business and its style, personality, culture and position.

Martin Jelsema
303-242-5975

Naming tip: number 64 in a series

Be sure to consider the associations, other than the one you intend, when evaluating brand names.

Let’s say you’ve decided Mercury might be an ideal name for in-line skates.

Mercury, the name of a Roman god who acted as a messenger , does connote speed. But from its ancient roots, Mercury was also the god of “rogues, vagabonds and thieves”.

But more important are current associations. Check out other companies and products with the same name. Think of Mercury automobiles (isn’t the perception today of a poor-man’s Buick?), Will there be an association, even a subtle one, between your skates and the car? Then there are outboard motors and a host of Mercurys.

There’s a reference book available at most larger libraries that alphabetically list all registered names. It’s a two-volume reference by Gale Research called Brands and Their Companies and Companies and Their Brands. Reviewing Mercury under both products and companies will reveal trademarks you’ll want to scan for unsavory or conflicting associations.

Then there are other possible associations. How about the NASA Mercury project? But there’s also the element mercury and mercury poisoning of tuna.

There may or may not be any conflicts, poor associations or just too many “Mercury”s to make the name attractive for your skates. But at least a review will help you decide.

Martin Jelsema
3030-242-5975

Naming tip: Number 63 in a series

Some brand name candidates contain words and syllables that look good on paper but just don’t have the distinctiveness or authority they once had.

These words usually show up in names over and over again until people just don’t pay attention to them. I’m speaking of adjectives like “quality”, “precision” and “advanced”, and syllables like “maxi”, “dyna” and “micro”.

As you eliminate the meaningless from your list of brand name candidates, think, too, about the words and syllables that are likely to become meaningless. This is, of course, difficult to judge, But perhaps a Google search will reveal a rush to use those you suspect might be trending toward becoming cliché.

So beware words that have lost their meaning/value through overuse.

Martin Jelsema
303-242-5975

Naming tip: number 63 in a series

Here’s how to construct an entirely new brand name.

One type of coined word name is the morpheme construct.

A morpheme construct is formed by combining groups of letters, often existing prefixes, suffixes and roots, into new words.

A morpheme is defined as the smallest component of a word that contributes meaning or grammatical function. That includes syllables and single letters. A single letter may be inserted as a transition between two syllables to make the new word easier to pronounce and/or spell. (Magitor). Syllables could be existing prefixes, stems or suffixes, or they may be newly arranged letter groups.

To construct morpheme-based names you’ll need a comprehensive list of prefixes, roots and suffixes. You can download these lists from several linguistically-oriented web sites. You might want to try the Medical Assistant web site for a comprehensive list of roots, prefixes and suffixes. A Dictionary I have found useful is called Word Stems by John Kennedy. It is also helpful in finding additional meaningful word parts.

Now you just pick those morphemes with meanings you wish to associate with the brand and “mix and match”, sometimes with existing words, sometimes with letters that have acquired a meaning or connotation (e, x, o), sometimes with other morphemes.

But be careful. An important aspect of morpheme constructed words is that they must be pronounceable. In fact, they should border on the familiar because people have an aversion to coined words until those Names have acquired a meaning for themselves. This may take a little time, but may be particularly fruitful in the long run. Look at Google as an example.

Martin Jelsema
303-242-5975

http://www.medicalassistant.net/glwordlist.htm

Naming Tip: Number 61 in a series

When tacking and fusing coined brand names, be sure they join in a “natural” way.

First, explanations of tacking and fusing. Tacking occurs when you add a new syllable, either suffix or prefix, to an existing word to create a new word. I’ve used this technique very successfully – Profitology and Ideatrics are examples. Fusing takes two existing words and “fuses” them together as I did with Wow and Power to create “Wower” Tools.

But these tactics only work well if the new words are easily pronounceable and easy to spell. If you stumble over them when saying the word, or need to pause when they occur in a sentence you’re reading, they just won’t resonate with people.

An example, by a guy who should know better, is the book title, Brandscendence, a fusion of “brands” and “transcendence”. The author, Kevin A. Clark, even trademarked the name. But it’s too long for a single word, it’s awkward where brand(s) and “scendence” meet. There are four consonants in a row that usually don’t appear together. I’ve owned the book for a couple of years and still have to stop and go through a little mental exercise to get that name pronounced correctly.

You shouldn’t have to do that with a brand name.

So when you fuse or tack, be sure the new word follows common grammatical alignment.

PS, it’s a fine book. I recommend it.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tip: Number 61 in a series

When tacking and fusing coined brand names, be sure they join in a “natural” way.

First, explanations of tacking and fusing. Tacking occurs when you add a new syllable, either suffix or prefix, to an existing word to create a new word. I’ve used this technique very successfully – Profitology and Ideatrics are examples. Fusing takes two existing words and “fuses” them together as I did with Wow and Power to create “Wower” Tools.

But these tactics only work well if the new words are easily pronounceable and easy to spell. If you stumble over them when saying the word, or need to pause when they occur in a sentence you’re reading, they just won’t resonate with people.

An example, by a guy who should know better, is the book title, Brandscendence, a fusion of “brands” and “transcendence”. The author, Kevin A. Clark, even trademarked the name. But it’s too long for a single word, it’s awkward where brand(s) and “scendence” meet. There are four consonants in a row that usually don’t appear together. I’ve owned the book for a couple of years and still have to stop and go through a little mental exercise to get that name pronounced correctly.

You shouldn’t have to do that with a brand name.

So when you fuse or tack, be sure the new word follows common grammatical alignment.

PS, it’s a fine book. I recommend it.

Martin Jelsema