Category Archives: Name Creation

Naming Tips: Number 51 in a series

Several weeks ago I wrote about combining words and word parts to form new name candidates.

Today I’ll address several ways to make these combinations. And then I’ll continue with some additional approaches to combinations next week as well.

So first let’s look at prefixes and suffixes.

It is possible to find and combine a prefix or suffix to a common descriptive word, usually a noun. I’ve done this successfully for several clients, most notably, Ideatrics and Profitology.

The former is a company that helps surgeons design, manufacture and market custom surgical instruments. So combining the Greek suffix “atrics”, meaning medical treatment, with “idea”, I created a name that is both unique and descriptive. Profitology uses the suffix meaning “science of” with “profits” for a consultant who sets up and trains incoming call centers for her clients.

All you need is a comprehensive list of prefixes and suffixes. I forget where I attained my list, but an Internet search will surely find such a list you can print out and put in your “Naming Aids” notebook.

Naming Tips: number 50 in a series

I have compiled a Naming Aids notebook.

I started it many years ago and it just keeps growing. In fact it’s now up to two 3-inch, 3-hole binders and I’m about to start a third.

It contains all sorts of information – articles, definitions, lists, a collection of good and great names, some linguistic principles and most importantly, all the name candidates I’ve created for clients over the years. They are a source of inspiration and often enough, candidates for current client naming projects.

The notebook contains all my source data on morphemes and phonestemes and other linguistic resources. It has comprehensive lists of suffixes and prefixes with definitions. There’s a major list of given names and their meanings. I even developed a list of ALL two, three and four-letter combinations containing vowels and consonants in accepted English presentation.

It also contains specially-compiled lists. One such list contains some 800 potential “last names” a business might acquire (Arsenal, Arts, Associates, Attic, Authority, Avenue are examples). A subset of this list is for real estate developers who almost always want the last name of their developments to be a connected with geography – Cove, Trace, Woods, Fields, etc.

Then there is a page of potential “second syllables” to combine with positive “first syllables”. Last syllables like “fair’, ‘faith”, “fast”, “felt’, “fest’, “field” can be combined with words like “First”, ‘Fitz”, “Fair”. The result is an “English-like” name that has a positive, possibly meaningful connotation for the company or product named.

If you are in the naming business, even peripherally, I strongly suggest you begin your own Naming Aids notebook.

Just like a copywriter’s “swipe” file, you’ll find a Naming Aids notebook quite valuable.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips: Number 49 in a series

As we press on with the process of creating brand name candidates, here’s a way to combine words without special software.

Remember last week I spoke of word-combining software specifically designed to randomly combine words from two lists.

But if you have a fairly sophisticated word processing program with a “find and replace” feature and a table-building feature, you can easily combine words.

Here’s how.

1) Make two lists, one will usually be your adjectives, the other your nouns.
2) Create a two column, one row table.
3) Type your adjective list into the first column with a carriage return between each word. Select all words and format right justified.
4) In the second column, type a single character, say an “a”, opposite each adjective in the first column.
5) Select the column of “a”s
6) Go to your Find and Replace menu and instruct the program to find the word “a” and replace it with the first noun you wish to combine with the list of adjectives.
7) I’d then select and copy the entire table onto a new page.
8) Going back to the original page, go to the find and replace menu.
9) Replace the first noun with the second one on your list and activate.
10) Select and copy that table to another page, and  continue the process until all the nouns have been combined with all the adjectives.

From the lists you can select those possible candidates for your name. Also, peruse these lists looking for additional ideas that often spring up when a couple of unconventional combinations spark your imagination.

One word of warning: if the two lists you begin with are over 10-12 words each, I’d look at breaking them up and doing two separate combination projects because the process can become rather monotonous.

Next week: candidate evaluation.

Martin Jelsema


Naming Tips – Number 48 in a series

Recalling last week’s Naming Tips entry, I’d suggested word associations were more fruitful in building a list of name candidates and name-parts than were just synonyms.

I even mentioned the software that brings up lots of word associations for about any keyword: Thought Office.

So what’s next? This is when I start looking at word combinations. From the long lists and the mind map I start combining words and word-parts.

I obviously look to combine adjectives with nouns.

But I also combine nouns with verbs, and nouns with other nouns.

Then I’ll look at some of the most likely words and play around with adding positive suffixes or possibly prefixes.

This can be a little tedious without some help from the computer.

There are several programs that will combine every word from list A with every word in list B. That’ll give you a lot of combinations, most of which border on gibberish. But all you’re doing in this exercise is scanning the list for the 10 or 12 diamonds that come in the manure pile.

Next time I’ll give you more details on the software I use for combining words as well as perform a multitude of other tasks that help you generate fresh name condidates.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tip: Number 47 in a Series

For the last couple of weeks I’ve blogged about the process I used in a recent naming project. I’m still at it.

I mentioned the need to generate large lists of words that can describe or be positively associated with the product or company being named. I certainly advocated a good thesaurus to dig for synonyms for the words my client had indicated were good descriptions of his company’s personality and attributes.

Then I arrayed those words in a “mind map” so I’d have a visual method of seeing and drawing relationships between words from different groups.

But I wanted to go further. I also wanted to find words that are closely associated with the original terms without necessarily being synonyms. I’m looking for word associations.

I know of no book that does this for you. The closest is the Random House Word Menu by Stephen Glazier. It organizes language by subject matter. Their own jacket blurb states the book is “A merging of dictionary, thesaurus, treasury of glossaries, reverse dictionary, and almanac…” I find it immensely valuable as a source of name parts and name candidates.”

Then there’s the software I mentioned briefly in the Naming Tip 46: Thought Office. This is relatively new in its present form and name, but it evolved from the Idea Fisher software project of the early 1990’s. It is a source of word associations as well as synonyms, song lyrics, words that rhyme, quotes and images for any word or phrase you ask it to help you with.

Here’s an example of word associations it provided for the word, romance: moonlight, Valentino, candles, roses, perfume, France. In fact, over 300 words were presented. Of course most were not relevant in some way or another. But I added about 80 words that were.

Thought Office is not just a word retriever, although I use it mostly for that application. It also has a ”topic” section. You can acquire specific application modules to run from the topic section. Essentially these are organized lists of questions concerning your topic. By answering them, you can develop strategic plans, movie scripts, new product development. And yes, there’s a naming module.

By the time you’ve completed the questions from the naming topic, you have a very targeted naming brief. And if you’ve been reading this series, you know how important I believe a good naming brief can be in the naming process.

Anyway, if you’d like to learn more about Thought Office and how it can help you with many of your creative projects, just click Thought Office and check it out.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tip – Number 46 in a Series

In Tip # 45 I demonstrated how I get my branding clients to participate in the naming process by having them provide keywords that best describe the attributes and the personality they desire for their company/product/service to possess.

Now that I have eight to ten words that convey the “essence” of an offering, I sit down with a comprehensive thesaurus and a large piece of paper. I make myself a “mind map”. I start with the offering to be named in the center. I usually start with the offerings category. That is a word or phrase describing what am I naming. I circle it.

Then I draw lines from the center out, midway to the edge of the sheet. If I have eight keywords, I draw eight lines. At the end of each line I put a keyword and circle it.

Now around each keyword I write synonyms I’ve found in the thesaurus. I probably won’t use all the references, but I’ll usually find 10-12 that “fit” the offering. Often I’ll find a synonym that can be expanded into a search by itself. When I do, I draw branches from it and add the new words.

A naming mind map 

Once I finish this process I can begin to be “creative”. First, I use color highlighters to pop out those words that in and of themselves may be legitimate name candidates. I also look for words I can combine or associate together.

Also, I’ll start a new sheet where I’ll bring some likely candidates or words that look like they may be fruitful sources of associations. For instance, for a word like “romantic”, I may draw lines out to nodules such as “mythic”, “fictional”, “historic”, “symbols”, ‘flowers”, “people”, etc. Now I’ll probably recall from memory some appropriate associations.

I might supplement this with a great piece of software that’s proven very valuable in generating ideas as well as words. It’s called Thought Office. It’s more than just naming software, but that’s the major use I put it to. You can find an introduction to Thought Office by clicking the name. The function I use is labeled “Word Associations”. I type in a word and it generates words and phrases associated with the typed word. There’ll be synonyms but a whole lot more. For instance, by entering “romance”, I’ll get associations such as “aphrodisiac”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “”poetry” and “doves”. I’ll get some irrelevant stuff, too, but it’s worth it to discover the gems.

The point of all this: to generate lots and lots of words and ideas. We know that the more ideas generated, the more unique words and combinations we’ll discover. We’re right in the middle of the creative process.

Next Naming Tip will further that process.
Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips – Number 45 in a Series

I just finished a naming project in which I generated a couple of hundred brand name candidates in a couple of days. All were at least relevant to the client’s company, but only about fifty met other criteria, including my “sense” of what a great name should “sound” like.

As I was doing my “thing”, I thought about the several procedures I use that I believe may be helpful to any naming project.

I’ll share them over the course of the next few weeks.

First thing, I sent my client a form-filled document that eventually leads to a naming brief. This document has two purposes: 1) to give us direction in developing candidates, and 2) to provide a list of criteria from which candidates need to be judged. Once I get the completed form, I write a naming brief and get my client to “sign off” on it. I do not rely on the client’s input without “interpreting” and resubmitting it to them so we make sure I understand his/her goals and needs, and that they understand the approach I’ll be taking.

As part of this form, I ask clients to suggest the five “characteristics and attributes” that best describe the business. I provide the list below and ask them to circle the five most appropriate terms.

 Attributes clients can select for brand name project

 Then a provide a second checklist and ask my client to circle the five descriptors that best reflect the “personality” or desired “image” for the company. Here’s that checklist:

 Brand/Company Personality Checklist

Now I have a place to start. I’ll begin by doing a synonym check and a word association check for those ten words preferred by the client.

As I do this, some name ideas pop to the surface, but the main idea is to get on paper as many words I can use as a foundation that might lead me to unique combinations. They, in turn lead to other ideas and directions which I’ll share in the next tips blog.

Martin Jelsema

PS: The same checklists I’ve shared here can be used for naming products, services, events as well.

So what do I know that you want to know about branding?

That’s the question for today. I’ve been blogging about branding pretty consistantly for the past year at TheBrandingBlog. I’ve been showing off. I’ve been bashing some folks. I’ve even thrown a few cudos.

But I’m not sure I’m serving  readers as effectively as I could be. I’d like to grow the readership of this blog> I guess everyone that blogs has the same goal, but with all the years I’ve been around, I’ve accumulated quite a bit of knowledgeSo I’d like some feedback.

Here are five branding subjects. They’re numbered 1 thru 5.

Please review the list and then find the tiny “comments” link below the blog. After signing in, just give me your feedback. Either rank the five numbers representing the topics or list the first one or two you’d like me to address.

  • 1 – naming tips
  • 2- branding strategies
  • 3 – brand management issues
  • 4 – positioning
  • 5 – graphic brand representations

Of course, if there’s another topic you’d like addressed that’s not covered above, just write it down in your comment.

Helping me with this will help you and future readers get the most out of coming back for more.

Martin Jelsema