What’s in a Name?
Chances are you’ve never heard of Stefani Germanotta. But you probably know her music, because she’s one of the most famous performers in the industry. As it turns out, it wasn’t until the singer changed her name to Lady Gaga that she became a 30 plus million dollar a year conglomerate.
Whether it’s Lady Gaga, Trey Songz (born Tremaine Neverson) or Katy Perry (born Katheryn Hudson), there’s a lot that goes into a name, especially when it comes to business. Brad’s Drink never made it, but renamed Pepsi, the company became iconic. “AuctionWeb” won’t be remembered, but rebranded as “Ebay,” it’s hard to forget. Facebook was called “Thefacebook“ until Sean Parker famously suggested Mark Zuckerberg drop the ‘the’ (at least according to the movie, The Social Network.) More recently, Matchbox didn’t set a spark until it became Tinder, the premier dating and hook-up app for millennials.
When it comes to your business, deciding on a name isn’t easy. The task can be so challenging, larger companies hire other companies just to figure it out. Slate reports cars, yogurt, sodas, movies and much more have been named by professionals. But those of us who own small companies have to rely on our own ingenuity. Fortunately, with some creativity and these tips, you can make quite a name for yourself.
Invent new words rather than associate with existing words. Although some brands use a familiar English word (i.e. Apple), many names are invented. They’re called neologisms, and often become so entrenched in our vocabulary that we fail to even realize they’re there. The word “aspirin” was originally a brand name from drug maker Bayer, and “zipper” was coined by B.F. Goodrich. In 1998,“Google” was created based on a common misspelling of googol–which is the term for the number one followed by a hundred zeros. The verb google, was added to the dictionary in 2006.
Use phonetic symbolism. Phonetic symbolism is a fancy way of suggesting that not only do you create a word, but you create a word that hints at its meaning. For example, Nook sounds like a protected reading space, perfect for enjoying a book. Easy-Off has long been the best name for an oven cleaner. Häagen-Dazs sounds Danish, but it actually doesn’t translate to anything. Its inventor just wanted it to sound Danish so people would equate the ice cream to quality dairy products from Denmark.
Keep it simple. When you’re creating a word, make it easy to pronounce. Easier words are more likely to be spread through word of mouth promotion. Furthermore, limiting your brand or product name to one word will help keep it easy to remember.
Check that it translates. While the name may sound good to you, it may have a totally different meaning abroad. When Puffs tissues tried to break into the German market, the company quickly discovered“puffs” is the German colloquial term for “whorehouse.” Not exactly what you want tissues associated with, at least literally.
Incorporate Your Own Name Creatively. On The Marc Media. ‘Nuff said.