Naming Tips: Number 9 in a Series

In the book, Strategic Brand Management, author Kevin Lane Keller provides some criteria for a brand name.

The problem is two of those criteria seem contradictory.

To gain and keep high marks for brand awareness and recall, Keller wants a name to be “familiar and meaningful”. But to establish brand recognition, the brand needs a “different, distinct and unusual” name. He concedes “tradeoffs must be recognized”.

But there are several ways to combine the familiar and the different: to satisfy both criteria fully. Here are three methods.

Begin by developing a list of familiar words relevant to the product to be named. Usually these are words that might describe a benefit or perhaps a desired emotional response. They might be descriptive, allegorical or suggestive. Just build as long a list as you and your thesaurus can accumulate.

  • Tip 1: Now, for those words that end in a silent “e”, substitute “a”, “i”, “o”, “u” or “y” for the silent “e”. This is especially effective for verbs and single-syllable words.  Here are some examples: hype=hypa, groove=groovo, rake=raku. You may also substitute short, vowel-beginning syllables such as “an”, “or”, “ite”. More examples: style=stylant,  save=savio, crane=cranus. But note how the word itself is retained without the silent “e”, so familiarity is retained while the added suffix makes it unique.


  • Tip 2: From the same list, select those words that begin with a vowel. Now experiment with adding a single consonant or if you’re into linguistics, a phoneme, to the beginning of the word. Thus, element=Nelement, Apollo=Capollo, Oslo=Voslo, arch=Sharch. Again, the original word is retained and the added phoneme gives it individuality.


  • Tip 3: Here you deliberately “misspell” words to create a new, trademarkable name: Qwest, Ikon, Duque. At first a customer will have a little trouble recognizing the word, but once they’ve pronounced it, they’ll remember, particularly if the original word carries a relevancy to the product or company itself.

So there you have it, three ways to have your caki and feat it, tu.

Martin Jelsema

One thought on “Naming Tips: Number 9 in a Series

  1. Thank you so much for the many tips on branding that you provide on this website. Specifically, the tips on naming the brand was helpful in that I have been using my first name in my branding and the fact that it ends in the letter, “a” is great because it meets your suggestion. I will subscribe to this feed, for sure.

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