Catch This

Naming Tip – It’s in the Can: Finding Naming Epiphanies

The inspiration for today’s naming tip comes from a rather unlikely place: a garbage can. I’d been in the market for one for a while but it wasn’t until I discovered the SimpleHuman semi-round, brushed-steel step can that I’d found my canister.

As most people know, garbage cans have evolved a lot over the years. No longer a purely functional plastic depository with a lift-off lid, garbage cans now come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, with various opening, closing, and stepping features; some even use motion sensors to open and close automatically. But it wasn’t the artful design, storage capacity, or smooth step action that first attracted me to the SimpleHuman. It was, of course, the name.

SimpleHuman: an odd but perfectly compatible combination of words. Different people will have different associations, but I imagine most would agree that it suggests ease-of-use, something made with people in mind, efficiency, and, with its AI-tonality, probably futuristic design.

Moreover, the name is brilliant because it pairs two unexpected words (and ideas) to create one beautiful and unique name. It’s honest, pure and straightforward, but also creative, memorable, and highly proprietary. Because it speaks to higher-order benefits and corporate values (instead of specific product categories) it’s broad enough to encompass various products, and flexible enough to allow the company to grow into new areas or shift business focus. (It should be noted the company also sells coffee makers, dishracks, hampers, paper-towel holders, and other items, all made with people and the way we live in mind).

What’s the tip provided by this name? Look for naming epiphanies in the most obvious of places – your company or product values. And, rather than always trying to find metaphors to represent those values, consider using the values themselves. This isn’t easy, and it won’t always work. Combining just any two words won’t necessarily yield an appealing company name or product name. But when it does work — when unexpected words combine to create a natural, intuitive name — you’ll know it, and you’ll have a winner.

And no, Catchword does not usually search for naming inspiration in the garbage.

All trademarks & logos are the intellectual property of their respective companies and hereby acknowledged.

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Posted: Friday, October 17th, 2008 at 12:38 pm

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