The Making of a Name: The Inside Story of the Brands We Buy

Overview

How do brand names differ from other names, and what goes into making a good name great and a bad name ghastly? Knowing this can spell the difference between bankruptcy and marketplace triumph.
In this indispensable guide, the authors share the secrets of successful brand names—how they've indelibly stamped cultures around the world; who makes them; why they're made; and how they're compiled, bought, sold, and protected. The book outlines what kind of names exist—the ...

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The Making of a Name: The Inside Story of the Brands We Buy

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Overview

How do brand names differ from other names, and what goes into making a good name great and a bad name ghastly? Knowing this can spell the difference between bankruptcy and marketplace triumph.
In this indispensable guide, the authors share the secrets of successful brand names—how they've indelibly stamped cultures around the world; who makes them; why they're made; and how they're compiled, bought, sold, and protected. The book outlines what kind of names exist—the initialized, descriptive, allusive, and coined. How namers surf on brainwaves. The do's, don'ts, and nevers of naming, how the structure of names is built from the ground up and how their sounds are engineered. Why names symbolize benefits. Where in the world brands may be found, and what will become of them.
Fast-paced, illustration-packed, gazing at the past and probing into the future, this is the definitive book on naming. The Making of A Name is the one book anyone interested in "owned words" must have.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This authoritative and fascinating book on names and naming will be used by entrepreneurs, students, inventors, marketers, and wordsmiths at all levels. Recommended."—Library Journal

"Right now, all over America, millions of freelancers are starting companies, inventing products and marketing their services. Whether they're laid-off dot-com kids or unfulfilled Boomers, they have one thing in common—they all need names. Sadly for them, there's no book on the market that lays out the process. Rivkin and Sutherland's book will fill that gap. It's packed with useful 'how to' as well as tales both inspiring and cautionary: back-stories on the brand names we know—and why we love or hate them."—Laurie Pollock, formerly Senior Partner, Planning Director at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising in New York

Publishers Weekly
The naming industry sprang up in the 1980s to deal with the complexities of brand identity, the legal maze of eligibility and the pitfalls of translation. In this encyclopedic compilation, Rivkin, proprietor of a U.S. naming consultancy and Sutherland, a Canadian author and editor, mix business with linguistics in an attempt to demystify the name game. In Part I they distinguish among the basic types of names: descriptive, allusive and coined. Part II, on the naming process, offers a massive amount of recycled information, from right-brain/left-brain functioning to obvious brainstorming methods la marketing 101; a blizzard of lexicographic, phonetic and linguistic factoids; a brief dissertation on the origins of speech; a litany of familiar cautionary tales about the perils of translation; and much more. All of this is exhaustively researched and appropriately cited; while some of it bears a direct relation to naming, a great deal comes across as too much icing. Part III, an overview of naming firms and alternatives, concludes with Rivkin's own finding that companies consider naming consultants less effective than internal task forces or agencies. If this overstuffed volume is representative of the field, that comes as no surprise. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Ever wonder what makes a good name memorable and a bad name inappropriate and sometimes even dreadful? Why do Snickers sell and Marathon Bars don't? Since a name can make or break a product, service, or company, the authors have produced this guide to the secrets of successful brand names. Rivkin, who runs a highly successful naming consultancy, and Sutherland, an editor who has worked on major dictionary projects, outline the types of names that already exist, e.g. initialized, descriptive, allusive, and coined. Especially important are the dos, don'ts, and nevers of naming, how names are structured from the ground up, and how sounds are engineered. The book closes with a discussion of results, private labels, language and word stocks, and other interesting facets of naming. This authoritative and fascinating book on names and naming will be used by entrepreneurs, students, inventors, marketers, and wordsmiths at all levels. Recommended for most public and academic libraries.-Susan C. Awe, Univ. of New Mexico Lib., Albuquerque Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
The Inside Story Of The Brands We Buy
In The Making of a Name, brand naming expert Steve Rivkin and author Fraser Sutherland explain that the arithmetic of naming is daunting: There are at least 3.4 million active, pending and inactive trademarks registered in the United States. They also point out that intellectual property, which includes brand names, contributes more than $400 billion to the U.S. economy and is its single most important export. To show how brand names differ from other names and what makes a brand name great or horrible, the authors of The Making of a Name describe in detail the do's and don'ts of naming and how to build a successful name from the ground up.

Four Types of Names
The first part of The Making of a Name divides brand names into four types: the initialized, the descriptive, the allusive and the coined. The initialized are names made up of capitalized initials. They can be divided into two groups: Either they are acronyms, which are words made up from the initial letters or groups of letters, such as BART for Bay Area Rapid Transit, or they are initialisms, which are words that are pronounced as sequences of letters, such as ABC, BBC or NBC, pronounced "ay bee cee," "bee bee cee" and "en bee cee."

Descriptive names, the authors explain, "ascribe a person or place in connection with them or describe a characteristic, ingredient, purpose, function or appearance."

Allusive names differ from descriptive names in that they merely hint at the product, service or company, or its main benefit. The authors write that they "operate through connotation and allusion, working within the brain as simile, metaphor and cultural references."

Arbitrary names simply have no relationship whatsoever to that which they refer, and coined names are entirely made up.

Each category, the authors write, has its own personality, and they dedicate a chapter to each type of name, describing what makes a name in that category either weak or strong, and providing numerous examples to make their points.

Brainstorming and Idea Spinning
The authors fill the next part of The Making of a Name with the best ways to construct brand names and how the most memorable names can be found through various brainstorming and idea-spinning techniques. They also reveal how word units are mixed and matched in the imperfect game of brand naming. The authors point out that unexpected combinations of language can create memorable names, such as George Lucas' special effects factory Industrial Light & Magic, the Hollywood studio DreamWorks and the toy store Zany Brainy.

Fulfilled Needs
According to the authors, a good name essentially provides a positive answer to the following questions about a new product:

  • Is a specific need fulfilled?
  • Is it really an improvement over what already exists?
  • Is it easier to use than what already exists?
  • Is it safer than what already exists?
  • Is there a competitive point of difference?


A good name also answers the question, "How will you bring your idea to life?" All the elements of a name should share the ability to make the customer recall the name.

A bad brand name, the authors write, is any name that does not fulfill any of the responsibilities of a good name. Oldsmobile's Achieva model even received an award from a group of brand namers for the worst new brand name, as did the itch-soothing cream Cruex. The authors explain that bad brand names can also come from waiting too long to start the naming process, underestimating the time needed and then scrambling when the product is about to be released.

The last part of The Making of a Name discusses brand naming as a business and describes the people who are successful at making it their business. Here, the authors introduce readers to the steps involved in a naming project as well as the other routes available to companies when they are working to come up with a name. They also help companies keep their names by describing how trademarks are registered, how they can be protected, and how names are bought and sold.

Why We Like This Book
The Making of a Name maps out the familiar world that is made up of the thousands of brand names we encounter every day and provides a fascinating inroad to the origins of the ones we use to summon the products and services we need. While describing how brand naming should and should not be done, we get a fun and informative trip through the history of brand names and their purveyors. Copyright © 2005 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195168723
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Rivkin, the proprietor of the highly successful U.S. naming consultancy Rivkin & Associates, is the co-author of many books on branding, among them IdeaWise, The New Positioning, and Differentiate or Die, which have sold in the hundreds of thousands. A Canadian, Fraser Sutherland is the author of 11 books. As an editor he's been involved in major dictionary projects spread across three countries.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction : the nature of names 1
1 A typology of names 23
2 Descriptive names : what you see is what you get 30
3 Allusive names : more than greets the eye 38
4 Coined names : new words for the language 47
5 Brainwaves and brainstorms 55
6 Giving a good name 64
7 Getting a bad name 78
8 Scrabble scramble : how names are constructed 99
9 Figures of brandspeak 112
10 The sound of sales 117
11 Symbols and their benefits 127
12 Names heard round the world 143
13 An unlikely profession 167
14 Making a list 174
15 Checking it twice 181
16 Spinning the name web 196
17 Naming's aftermath 201
Afterword : do names have a future? 211
App International trademark classes of goods and services 225
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