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Fresh News: The priceless power of memorable naming

Article by Kare Anderson

The priceless power of memorable naming

by Kare Anderson


True Love was the name of college friend Jim’s beloved Alfa Romeo. Why?  Because, as he admitted repeatedly, “It never runs smooth.” Ah the power of naming something.

What will we dub this decade? What will you name your new effort? “I want to define myself before someone else does,” George W. Bush said as he took office. Similarly yet perhaps more successfully you want to make your brand name so memorable that other’s less flattering nicknames don’t become more popular.



If, for example, you want your product to seem swift and reliable then give it a name that has an “e”’ in it to evoke speed and a “b” for reliability. So suggest linguists. That’s why that vital gadget Obama won’t give up was not named Strawberry (“straw sounds slow”) but alliteratively dubbed the Blackberry. Avid users soon adopted the irreverent, stickier name - Crackberry.     

Yet many made-up names, especially hybrids of other names, sound bland and forgettable, especially those for scientific or medical companies and products.  


Qualcomm may be intended to mean quality communication yet it evokes a soulless corporation to me.  And the angular typeface looks like it was designed by an introverted mechanical engineer.

And does Verizon make you think of “horizon,” as in forward-looking. Does it remind you of anything? Does it evoke a positive emotion – or any emotion at all?  

(No, I am not talking about the actual service you may have experienced.)  

Or does to Intel instantly cause the image of “intelligent” and “electronics” come to mind? 


Does Cialis sound “sensual” or remind you of “relationships” as the company intends?  Or, only slightly less euphemistically, “a couple’s desire to engage romantically?"  Any doubt that a committee involving their pr and legal department concocted with that phrase? Like Viagra, when companies spend millions on advertising many of us finally got the point. Ahem.

Sometimes, but rarely, a company needs to hide behind its name.

While psycholinguists were involved in naming Prozac and Zoloft, neither relate to a real world image, are easy to remember, nor do they evoke an emotion – positive or negative.

Perhaps the big corporations are trying too hard – or are wary of taking on the risk for naming so they subcontract it out.

That doesn’t mean you have to.

As a usually upbeat person I’ll stop this rant now.


Memorable Labels Can Shift Perspectives, Then Opinions

Here’s a simple secret to creating names that stick in the minds of your kind of customer:

Evoke a familiar image that has an emotional, commonly-viewed trait that reflects and reinforces  the Main Differentiating Benefit of your service, product or company. 

As a Fallback Evoke the “Familiar Effect”

At least use the name of a familiar object upon which you can project your own emotional brand image – like Apple, reflecting the crisp, clean, simple and “tasty” design of Apple’s products. (What do you think if the rumored name of their new product?)


Or make up a name that easily and emotionally evokes the image that highlight the main benefit. Spicy Baconator sounds like a hearty serving of something with bacon in it.  This name reinforces the mouthwatering intensity of the double cheeseburger photo that appears next to it.  


Warning: Be sure to say the name out loud to avoid embarrassment. I’ll bet PETA has taken a lot of ribbing for its first blog title.


And some names are just too precious- even for their upscale, ever-so-politically correct (organic only) market.

For more ideas on naming see the blogs Igor, Business Naming Basics, Strategic Name Development and The Kitchen Sink. Notice how much easier it is to remember the names of the first and last blogs I just listed?)



You might also consider perusing these related posts:

Save Your Unborn Baby from Embarrassment Later in Life

The Art of Naming: How to Make it Positively Stand Out

Where Do You Want People to Focus Their Attention When With You?

One for One: Creating Slogans and Subtitles




Communicate to Collaborate pundit, Obama campaign staffer, Emmy-winning former Wall Street Journal and NBC reporter, Kare Anderson is a speaker and the author of SmartPartnering, Resolving Conflict Sooner, Getting What You Want, Walk Your Talk, Beauty Inside Out and LikeAbility.

She’s the publisher of two newsletters/blogs, Moving From Me to We and Say it Better, collectively serving 42,000 subscribers in 26 countries. Her diverse clients include Pfizer, Google, Human Rights Watch, Venrock, National League of Cities and Nordstrom.

Kare is a passionate believer in the power of vividly-stated ideas and in SmartPartnerships that enable us to use our best talents and temperament. That, she says, is the surest way to benefit from this “Age of Engagement” in a "Connected World" fueled by “The Power of Us”.

That's also how we are most likely to become happier and high-performing -- together.

In a civilization when love is gone we turn to justice and when justice is gone we turn to power and when power is gone we turn to violence.

Here's just some of the books Kare's written:

Want to invite her to speak at your meeting? See

Discover why over 38,000 people in 27 countries read Say it Better e-newletter.


Reports I have written:

For your consideration...


Measuring the impact and ROI of social media
Measuring the impact and ROI of social media - for Ark Group
Making social media work for your business
Making Social Media work for your business - for Ark Group
Social Media: the new business communication landscape
Social Media: The New Business Communication Landscape - for Ark Group
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation - for Melcrum Publishing
How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues
Contributing author to How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues - for Melcrum Publishing

How to use social media to engage employees
Contributing author to How to use social media to engage employees - for Melcrum Publishing

Contributing author to How to communicate with hard-to-reach employees - for Melcrum Publishing



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