Give them something to say: Two strategies for developing memorable brand names

How do you create a brand name that sticks? Are there tools or insights that will help create memorability with your customers? The answer is yes!

why branding?

Let’s say you have your strategy in place. You know your brand’s identity inside and out. You’re almost ready to sell it to the world. All that’s left is the name, and you want it to be a good one. The name may be your first point of contact with the outside world. It’s important that your name be unique, memorable and pleasing to the ear. That’s a lot to ask of a single word. So how do you create a brand name that sticks? Are there tools or insights that will help create memorability with your customers?

The answer is yes!

You can make your name easier to remember by creating patterns, eliciting an emotional response and using or altering a word’s structure to communicate your brand in a distinct way.

Phonetic patterns: Alliteration, Assonance, Consonance, Rhyme

One of the most important aspects of a brand name is that it sounds good — in a way that’s both pleasing to say and memorable to the consumer. Think of brands like Kit-Kat, Super Soaker, Hulu, Best Buy. Each of these names employs phonetic patterns that can help encode a brand name in your audience’s memory.

  • Alliteration: The purposeful repetition of beginning word letters or sounds
    For example, the retailer Best Buy consists of two words that begin with “B”
  • Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds with an intervening consonant change
    Hulu repeats the “oo” sound twice with an L sound in the middle
  • Consonance: The repetition of consonant sounds with an intervening vowel change
    Both words in Kit-Kat begin with “K” and end with “t,” the only difference being a single vowel change
  • Rhyme: The purposeful repetition of ending word letters or sounds
    The forever-nostalgic Super Soaker name contains two words that end with the “err” sound

If you want to look at a real life example, just turn to one of the world’s greatest rivalries:

Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola.

While the tastes of each drink are certainly different, both brand names rely on phonetic patterns that help the name stick in your mind. Pepsi relies on consonance. There’s a repetition of the strong “p” sound – also known as a plosive because it explodes off the tongue – with a vowel change in between.

Coca-Cola employs all four patterns. The repetition of the hard “C” sound at the beginning of both words creates an alliteration. The “oh” and the “ah” sounds in both words create both assonance and rhyme. That first word alone, “Coca,” creates a sense of consonance – combining that hard “C” sound with a vowel change. And the two parts together create a rhyming scheme that is lyrical and fluid.

None of these patterns are a necessity in creating memorable brand names. Plenty of names — like Tide, Facebook, and Advil — are strong without these insights. But tools like these can be very effective when paired with the brand strategy.

Structural patterns: Using morphology to turn existing words into brand names

In linguistics, morphology refers to the way a word is formed – including prefixes, suffixes, or historic roots. Morphology looks at the very elements that form a word, elements that we use in everyday communication without realizing it.

For example, look at the word “morphology” itself: It consists of the prefix morph- meaning shape or form, and suffix -ology means a branch of study or learning. Put both parts together and you have a word that means the study of form.

When you’re developing a name for your brand, it’s possible to manipulate the essential elements of a word and create something that represents brand identity while also eliciting an emotional reaction. It can seem a little high-minded until you see how one of the world’s best-known brands made it work.

Google vs. googol

Google is such a powerful brand that it has infiltrated our everyday speech, becoming a commonly used verb. It’s impossible to think of a world without it. But before 1997, the word “google” didn’t actually exist.

Google is a variant spelling of the word googol, defined as 10 to the 100th power (that’s a one followed by 100 zeroes). This word works because it implies the vast number of results the search engine could provide to users. Both words sound the same but the modified spelling Google prevailed. Why?

It might have something to do with the fact that the suffix “-le” seems to be more pervasive than the suffix “-ol.” Think about words like dribble, snuggle, and ramble. These words use that “-le” suffix to suggest action.

According to accounts, the creation of the word Google might have been a typo, but ultimately it’s also a more intrinsic way to spell the word and a simple example of using morphology to create something new and memorable.

Conclusion

Embracing phonetic patterns and utilizing morphology are just two of angles for creating a distinct brand name. There are many more, from high-level wordplay to manipulating individual letters.

A lot goes into a name and the branding experts at Addison Whitney can help you discover which tools work best for you. We’ve been in the business of creating unique names for 27 years, and we can help you discover that one perfect word that takes your idea from just another word to a fully-fledged brand.

Sources used:

http://faculty.baruch.cuny.edu/dluna/consling/brandart.pdf

https://www.businessinsider.com/how-did-google-gets-its-name-2014-8

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