Wednesday, July 21, 2004

What's my name?

I can add another book I'd like to read this summer but probably won't get to: "Wordcraft: The Art of Turning Little Words Into Big Business."

I read about it at Verbal Energy, where Ruth Walker eloquently puts it like this: "A lover of language looks at a new coinage the way a fan of architecture will look at a new building: Is it aesthetically pleasing? Does it fit well on the site, into its surroundings? Does it do the job it's supposed to?"

I often think about the origin of product names and wonder how the planning sessions went, like anything that starts with an X. "Guys, I'm just not sure this is really going to resonate with today's youths. What can we do to give it some kick?" "I've got it; let's start the name with an X." And we get Xhilaration and X Box and Xtreme this and Xtra that.

Walker offers a peek at one company's thoughts:
My favorite chapter in "Wordcraft" discusses the naming of BlackBerry, the handheld messaging device produced by the Canadian firm Research in Motion. "Blackberry" is an actual word; it was modified by "intercapping," the internal capitalization so common nowadays in corporate names. BlackBerry was a distinctive name that wouldn't confine the company to a narrow definition of the product. Because berries grow on vines, it suggested "networks," but in an accessible sort of way. And you can be sure that something called a "BlackBerry" is not going to come with a 200-page manual.
It's like writing some headlines, only with so few parameters.


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