In Name Game

TRIVIA QUESTION! … “Why (or how) did Xerox come up with their name?”  Give up?  Because they wanted an identifiable, defendable (trademark lawsuit-proof) identity that was short, AND BOTH began and ended with an “X”.  No other word in the English language does that.

Like Kleenex and Coke, the name Xerox has become synonymous and universally interchangeable with the word “photocopy”.  THAT, my friends, is a strong brand!  So, the $10,000 question would be “can I just make up a name?”  Answer: yes and no (again with that darned two edged sword).

Take a look at the masters of made up names …€” Lexicon-Branding.  As a premier brand strategy firm and one of the best name-comer-uppers, they’re responsible for some traditional brand names like “Powerbook”, “OnStar”, “Blackberry”, “Tungsten” and Subaru’s “Outback”, Forester” & “Baja”.

For decades, this team has also been making up names like “Dasani”, “Zima”, “Febreze” and “Nexcare”.  Indeed, all powerhouse brands that are immediately recognizable by most consumers.  BUT … what about some other names they’ve come up with, like; “Evista”, “Vistive”, “Capton” or “Provenge”.  In their own circle of influence, these brand names are strong, easy to identify, easy to spell, meaning-rich and CAN be built into mega-names.  The problem is that it’s not so easy to remember these newly made up names. You have no past historical reference to relate with.

Tip Nine:
If you’re going to make up a name, be very, very careful!  Know that the cost of trying to avoid trademark issues is this initial lack of language recognition.  It may take a long while to get brand “legs”.  Also, expect A LOT of people to say “Uhhhhh,  WHAT does THAT mean?”  Made up names very typically evoke a love-hate response from the general public.

You’re likely on the fence with this one.  There are, indeed, both pros and cons to consider.  Take your time … this is a big deal. 

IF YOU DO decide to try and make up a name, check out these resources:

  • Robobunny’s “Dislexicon” – English Language Extender
  • Perceptus’ “Word Mixer” – Similar tool but it just mixes words you provide

Go back to our Name Game category (the link’s over there on the right) and check out tips two and three.  I walked you through the process of making a list of HUNDREDS of related words.  Start plugging these into the above sites and you’ll see how this can all work out.

An Example:  Let’s say I were trying to make up a new name for a brand strategy company.  One related word would certainly be “identity”.  By plugging this word into the Dislexicon system I quickly came up with “Benidenti” (with the implied meaning of “good identity”).  It’s short, easy to spell, has a European feel to it, and a quick search at the USPTO site shows no competing companies. 

Now comes the hard part (after I get a real clearance check from my IP attorney and an official “go ahead” from the USPTO) … burning this sucker onto the frontal lobes of every Tom, Dick and Mary I can get my hands on.

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