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FUSE in Focus

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Design for People: Names + Words

Some names are designed for people, others maybe not. 
We have been naming brands for just about fifteen years now and during
that time we've been fortunate enough to name a chair for Herman
Miller (Setu)
, a multinational software division of Fiserv (StoneRiver) and Simple Seed Organic Rice. During our
methodology, we go down paths and draw inspiration from a universe of
possibilities. When the filtering begins, one of the hard to measure criteria
is "how does it feel?" Some names because of their phonetic roots, audio
cues or latent meaning just don't feel right.
This isn't about the absolute blunders which many people reference when
considering naming. Like this
more recent one by Panasonic
, which is impressively idiotic. If this is
indicative of your definition of bad name, then we need to set the bar a bit
higher. 
Examples of names not really working but not offensive or idiotic (like
example above) might include:
Natural spring water named: Zephyrhills 
' It just doesn't sound like something a human being should be
consuming, simple? How can something that sounds like a drug name (see below)
feel 'natural'?
Bakery holding company named: Bimbo Bakeries
' While there is likely an argument for existing equities, the negative
meaning just has to trump all such views. Check with the meaning and if it
changes around you, change your name.
Clothing brand acronym: WESC
' WeAretheSuperlativeConspiracy, apparently WASC just wasn't right?
Acronyms are a jumble of letters making for a hard to remember, irrelevant
name. Avoid acronyms at all costs.
Drug name for high blood pressure: Edarbi
' In order to own a name in pharma, the name has to be unique to be
worthy of Trademark, but sometimes the phonetics are just not as good as one
would like. Say it out loud to yourself.
These are distractions, not names. They don't add to the brand message
but rather cause confusion or misinterpretation. These are not the names that
might be offensive or obnoxious in other languages, those are also plentiful. This
is where names make a contribution or hold back awareness, social value and
brand memorability.
The lesson here is not the extremes, it is the small spaces in between
when it comes to names. Seek memorability using authentic story elements. Don't
distract or confuse with jumbles of letters, strange phonetics and odd meaning.
And, ask yourself, "What does the name feel like?"
We'll cover examples on the other end of spectrum 'good names' in a
future post.