Coined Names: Some Old Favorites

By Laurel Sutton

March 28, 2013

Midol.  Lysol.  Maybelline.  Kodak.  Listerine.  Oreo.  Monsanto (edit: not a coined name; see comment below). What do these brand names have in common?  Believe it or not, all of them have been around for eighty or more years (since 1908, 1906, 1915, 1924, 1902, 1912, and 1901 respectively).  They are also all coined names.  That is, they are created, rather than being real English words.  The names are also unrelated to any obvious English vocabulary.  The result is that these names are like blank chalkboards upon which the brand personality of the company or product can be written.  People came to these names with no preconceived notions.  The sense of what kinds of brands they are has been built over years.  The coined nature of the names also means that the companies have been able, when necessary, to recreate themselves throughout the past century.  These brands have all been extraordinarily flexible over time, able to appeal to changing audiences and changing economic climates.  They have indeed served their companies well.

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