Product Naming - Product Naming Techniques

Product Naming Techniques

Linguistically, names are developed by combining morphemes, phonemes and syntax to create a desired representation of a product.

Morphemes differ from words in that many morphemes may not be able to stand alone. The Sprint name is composed of a single word and a single morpheme. Conversely, a brand like Acuvue is composed of two morphemes, each with a distinct meaning. While "vue" may be able to stand as its own word, "acu" is seen as a prefix or a bound morpheme that must connect to a free morpheme like "vue."

Phonemes are minimal units of sound. Depending on the speaker’s accent, the English language has about 44 phonemes. In product naming, names that are phonetically easy to pronounce and that are well balanced with vowels and consonants have an advantage over those that are not. Likewise, names that begin with or stress plosive consonant sounds B, hard C, D, G, K, P or T are often used because of their attention-getting quality. Some phoneme sounds in English, for example L, V, F and W are thought of as feminine, while others such as X, M and Z are viewed as masculine.

Syntax, or word order, is key to consumers’ perceptions of a product name. Banana Republic would not carry the same meaning were it changed to "Republic Banana." Syntax also has significant implications for the naming of global products, because syntax has been argued to cross the barrier from one language to another. (See the pioneering work on Universal Grammar by Noam Chomsky)

Some specific product naming techniques, including a combination of morphemes, phonemes and syntax are shown in the graph below.

Method Brand
Alliteration Coca-Cola
Oxymoron Krispy Kreme
Combination Walkman
Tautology Crown Royal
Theronym Mustang
Mimetics Google
Eponym Trump Tower
Description Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Synecdoche Staples
Poetics USA Today
Metonymy Starbucks
Allusion London Fog
Haplology Land O'Lakes
Clipping FedEx
Morphological borrowing Nikon
Omission RAZR
Acronym adaptation BMW
Acronym KFC
Founder's name Ferrari
Classical roots Pentium
Arbitrary Apple
Reduplication Spic and Span

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