Category Archives: Name Creation

Naming Tips – Number 44 in a Series

Here are another three word-generating web sites that may prove helpful in generating brand name candidates.

Like those generators I’ve mentioned in Numbers 28 and 43 of this series, the ones I present here are mainly recommended for developing long lists of word combinations that spark ideas for names.

In other words, the coined words they generate may not be usable as is, but might lead your mind into lateral thinking and creative alternatives. Then again, every once in a while you may see a combination that is just what you’re looking for.

That said, here’s the first resource:

Dislexicon provides a multitude of variations on the word you provide. I typed in “clue” and got the following (along with some gibberish I won’t share): clue-ant, clue-ologist, clue-ish, clue-gen, de-clue, uni-clue. Some food for thought, anyway.

The second resource, Word Constructor, generates coined words that may or may not resemble the word you “seed” it with. You type in a word and the generator provides a list of words from the letters in the seed word. For instance, I typed in “prattle” and got examples like: prangh, plinta and brotte.

Third: Word Mixer. With this system, you type up to five words (or letter combinations) and Word Mixer generates a list of 25 coined words created from, but not related to, the input words. It just uses the letters and syllables of the inputted words and an algorithm to space vowels and consonants. You get diverse output such as fralm, carape, alni, pefrit, omeste, along with 20 absolutely useless combinations.

So, three more word generators that may or may not generate your brand name or ideas that might lead to a brand name. Conversely, you may just label them timewasters if nothing comes. But remember the story of the optimistic boy who believed that with a room-full of horse manure, there must be a pony close by.

And all of these sites are free to use.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips: Number 43 in a Series

Back in July 13, 2007, I blogged about several naming resources that might help you generate unusual, out-of-the-box brand names, company names and domain names. They’re at Naming Tips: Number 28.

Well, I’ve found several more web sites that generate name candidates. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. I’ll list them all and you can determine for yourself which, if any, will be useful for your particular applications.

First is Nameboy. It was invented specifically for domain name generation but works for any name type. It mixes two words you specify and then generates combinations of those words and several of their synonyms. It also generates alternate spellings of one or more of your inserted words. Nameboy generates about 25 entries at a time, of which 15 will be pure waste. I put in “strong” and “signs” and got back some good synonyms for “strong” – brawny, hefty, bullnecked, muscular. They were teamed with “words” like cue, sine, mark, signz.

Next is Make Words. This site is also a domain name generator with wider application. It generates combined words. You can select from 41 categories and then add your own word to combine with the words from the selected category. Categories range from “action verbs” to “sports”. I selected “misc affixes” as a category and inserted “que” as my contribution. I got a lot of gobbledygook and several coined words that might be appropriate as brand names – Quebet, Queday, Quematic, Cityque, Logique. For some, you’ll want to delete an ajoining vowel to make the word pronounceable.

Name Spinner is the last for this blog. It, too, is primarily a domain name generator. It randomly provides an additional syllable to a word you enter to generate new candidates. When I typed in “ram”, I got back six or seven nice combos along with the scap. These words emerged – Redram, Ramair, Bayram, Ramhorn, Rambus, Ramert. 

Incidentally, these sites were conveyed to me from the folks at Authority Site Center. If you’re doing business on the web, or want to, I suggest checking them out.

Martin Jelsema

TheBrandingBlog Celebrates its First Anniversary

This year’s just flown by. And just about any time during that period, whenever I think I’ve got a minute for free thought, I’m reminded that I have another blog to write.

For me, blogging is work. I associate it with deadlines and excellence. My old copywriting mentor, Bill Aul at Marstellar, N.Y. circa 1965, used to remind me that short, crisp and compelling copy worked best no matter what I was writing. But, he added, short, crisp writing took more work that meandering, fuzzy writing did.


I know that for a fact.

I try to be useful in each blog, either sharing my experience, my sources of knowledge or my “common sense”.

The later can get me in trouble, and does in about one of four instances, I estimate.

This past year I started three different series of subjects. One, Naming Tips, has been on-going. I’ll be writing my 43rd tip the end of this week.

I did a series on how to “brand smart from the start”, describing the various steps I lead new clients through in the sequence I believe needs to be followed.

Then I did a series on color, describing eight different colors, their meaning and the emotional responses they evoke. This series is not complete. In the next several months I’ll pick up that theme again, elaborating on color combinations and such “technical” aspects as contrast, hues and tone.

Also in the next couple of months I’ll be discussing trade dress and signage, more about taglines, how to work with professional designers and strategists, and a few other topics.

If you’ve found this past year’s blogs useful, or at least informative, I’ve been rewarded for the time spent. But either way, please let me know what you’d like to see in these messages. Just click the “comments” link below.

I have an opinion about almost everthing :0)

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips – Number 42 in a Series

If you’ve given up finding a name for your offering and plan to use the services of a naming consultant, copywriter or ad agency, here are a couple of thoughts.

First share with him/her/them all the pertinent info about the offering, including background, competition, market targets, your brand architecture, your corporate vision/mission/goals, any market research you’ve performed, and lastly, any prejudices you and other top execs might have concerning a name.

What I’m saying, as I’ve said time and again in this set of tips, is develop and share a naming brief.

Quite often the person or organization you’re contracting with will have their own format for a brief. (If not I’d be suspicious from the start- probably wouldn’t hire them.) If they do, be sure to use it, but also provide additional data from your own planning documents that is relevant.

This brings up the second point. Whoever you use should sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This is, of course, a legal document. There are templates available over the Internet, but I’d sure have an intellectual properties attorney review it before using it.

The NDA allows you to share proprietary info that could very well be important in the naming process.

The third item: Be sure you also have a letter of agreement that the name you decide upon will become your property. Unless you have a signed document turning ownership over to you, the writer/contractor will retain the legal right of ownership. Some contactors will want an extra fee for relinquishing title. Be sure to make arrangements within your contract for this turn-over prior to signing that document.

Lastly, be sure to have a contract you both agree to before beginning work. It should describe a scope of work, method of doing business, description of deliverables, a schedule, pricing, an arbitration agreement as well as the ownership clause. I’d also want to spell out the method of performing and pricing second and third name generating iterations if they are required.

Since I’m usually on the vendor’s side of the contract negotiations, I’ve see and written plenty of contracts. They needn’t be over a couple of pages in length, but they should be created, signed and adhered to for both parties protection and understanding.

Martin Jeslema

Naming Tips – Number 41 in a Series

The name needn’t be your sole means of identification.

No, it should – nay, must – work with the other elements of the brand. Not only that, the name does not have to carry the brand on its shoulders. Although the most important, it is but one element. Other elements can take some of the burden.

So when naming your business, your product or service, remember these two points:

1) The name can have help in defining the offering.
2) The name must “fit” with the other elements (and visa versa).

That takes a load off of your shoulders when in the process of naming your “thing”. But it also means you must think ahead to other elements, or work on them as you’re developing name candidates.

I want to expand a bit about the name not needing to carry the entire burden of identification and conveying benefit, context and mood.

Quite often the name can (and probably should while the product is new) be accompanied by a category to put it in context. For instance, Lotus or Avery can presently stand alone as product names that convey the category they operate in. But in the beginning they modified the names. It was Lotus software. It was Avery labels. So let the classification help with identity.

The appropriate use of positioning statements, aka taglines or slogans, can also carry some of the load. These short, pithy (we hope) phases can identify a market segment, a product difference or benefit, a problem-solution.

Before you begin the naming process, I’ll again emphasize the importance of a naming brief to give everyone involved a foundation from which to ideate. This addresses the second point above. As you’re writing the brief, keep in mind that a category or a tagline can help the identification of the offering. Include that info in the brief, and then use the brief for direction and for candidate evaluation based on the knowledge that the name leads but does not need to carry the entire load..

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips – Number 40 in a Series

Wow! I didn’t know I had 40 naming tips in me!

As far as I know, I haven’t repeated myself even though some tips might have hammered on a particular principle. Well, it seems I’ve still got a few thoughts to share, so here goes number 40…

In the beginning of any naming project, I’ve always suggested (hammered home) creating a naming brief that specifically delineates what is to be named, the name’s  function, to whom it must appeal, etc. The idea of a name’s function might need further clarification.

Other than identifying the brand, what function, from the list below, should the proposed name perform?

Convey an emotion or tone concerning the offering.
Suggest the offering’s category.
Identify with a specific market.
Tie-in with the corporate name/identity (if a product/service).
Suggest a specific application or function.
Pinpoint a particular differentiating feature/benefit.
Identify the offering as a member of an existing line.
Suggest a specific strategic differentiator (newest, heritage,etc.)

By being clear on one or two “secondary” functions of a name you’ll be better able to focus on relevant name candidates.

The name function, along with the other naming brief contents, should provide you with a very precise method of evaluating names as well.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips – Number 39 in a Series

Here are a few comments and opinions about naming product features. First thing is, like most issues, there are pros and cons to naming features. And also there’s the ultimate weasel phrase, “It depends”.

So let’s explore names for features.

First of all, is the feature a product in and of itself?

Certainly the GM North Star system is a feature of higher end autos, and an option for lower-priced vehicles. As an option North Star is a product. As an included sub-system it is a feature. And because this system is exclusive and has become a valued reason to buy a GM car or truck, it has been promoted and advertised as a product. It helps differentiate the vehicle from competitors in a significant way. So, yes, naming this feature/product makes sense and contributes to the success of GM vehicle sales and profits.

But not all features deserve a name in my estimation. Many product features do not differentiate the product in a meaningful way. The marketer may believe that naming a feature common to a product category will make a difference, but I believe that kind of naming strategy only drains credibility from the offering – at least in the eyes of rational, informed buyers. 

I was once involved with evaluating names for four features being incorporated in a new line of lawnmowers. The features were all common to most high-end power mowers. Once we looked at the list of “winning” name candidates, we found there was no real advantage in naming them, particularly since the common descriptive phrases were already known and accepted by the respondents to the survey.

Having a list of feature names people are not familiar with, coupled with a product line name and a model name is just too much for a buyer to handle.

So here’s my rule-of-thumb guide to whether to name a feature or not: If the feature is truly a differentiator like North Star, and you plan to promote that feature at least at the point-of-sale, name the feature. But if it’s a “me-too” feature you just want to hype, forget it.

Also, keep in mind buyers want to simplify the buying process. By introducing a new name into the mix is just another factor to weigh, and may make the decision more difficult.

Remember, a confused prospect will not buy.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips – Number 38 in a Series

Don’t name with meaningless words

There are some words that have been “used up” for names, particularly company names.

I mentioned I had performed an analysis of company names derived from the 5,000 companies listed (with some duplication) in the INC 500 Index of America’s Fastest Growing Companies over a 10-year period.

Several words kept coming up that people felt were somehow descriptive of their companies. Four were particularly popular, and thus no longer unique:


In effect, these words, along with others such as “Express”, “Network” and “International” have lost their original and unique meaning in the context of a company name. They’ve been overused, worn out. They no longer differentiate a business or its name

When in the heat of naming, words such as quality, service, data, and the seven already named above will keep coming up in the list of name candidates. Don’t erase them because they’ll keep coming back. But during the evaluation process, remember these abstract words have lost their meaning so it’s difficult to include them in a name that’s meaningful.

Martin Jelsema

P.S.: If you’d like a pdf copy of the Analysis of Company Names from the INC 500 Index, either e-mail me or ask through the comments box below.