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Girl Thinking

I love and hate naming projects. They’re tedious, maddening, sleep depriving and also really fun. The funny thing about them, though, is the way they’re constantly with you, to an annoying degree, and then one day it’s over and you’re kind of sorry to see them go.

A rather unpredictable art, brand naming is about conveying the essence of something and all the feelings wrapped up in it – just enough but without giving it all away. Lexicon founder David Placek sums it up nicely: “… The best name brands, like poems, work by compressing into a single euphonious word an array of specific, resonant meanings and associations.”

When it comes to the process of brand naming, I’m sure every writer has their own unique, quirky method suited just for them. My, somewhat haphazard, approach is equal parts art, science and letting go. First I explore, gather and sort all aspects of the brand or product. Then I alternate between seriously hard thinking and stream-of-consciousness writing. Eventually, I walk away, revisit and refine. Sometimes the pieces fall together nicely and a name surfaces out of deep purposeful thinking. Other times, a name comes to me when I’m not even trying, like when I’m dreaming or in a handstand during yoga class. But most of the time, I find it comes down to a gut feeling.

Now for a few naming tips that are pretty obvious, but still worthwhile:

  • It’s best to keep it short and simple (relatively).
  • Should roll off the tongue: a consonant-vowel-consonant pattern usually works well.
  • Should sound pleasant: use alliteration and assonance.
  • When in doubt turn to Greek gods (and words associated with them). These guys did: Nike (goddess of victory), Midas, Trojan (a person of courageous determination or energy), Pandora, Lexus (man’s defender).

Sources:
The New Yorker: “What’s In a Brand Name?”
Illustration by  Paula Mills

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