The names of some of the world's most successful brands – from Accenture to Zantac – were widely ridiculed when they were first announced. Today those names are not just accepted but admired. It turns out there's a reason and a name for the attitude shift: The more we're exposed to something unfamiliar, the more we like it. Welcome to the Zajonc effect.  Continue reading...
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If you're a fan of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I have some bad news for you: The English language is notoriously anti-minimalist. English loves multiples and hangs onto old words while continuously adding new ones. I could dig up many examples, but today I want to talk about just one pair, crisp and crispy, both of which mean essentially the same thing. Except when they don't.  Continue reading...
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I learned a new word this summer: glotion. The word is meant to convey two concepts – glowing and lotion – in a single blended neologism. That is to say, it's a portmanteau word, a strategy for word and name creation that goes back almost 150 years.  Continue reading...
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When the British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton was searching, in 1999, for a term to describe a network of computers with their own means of gathering information and understanding the world, he didn't resort to a noun pileup like "Object Connectivity Matrix." He didn't coin a cute word like "Sensorius." Instead, he gave this dawning phenomenon a name that incorporates one of the oldest words in the English language. He called it the Internet of Things.  Continue reading...
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Coined names, dictionary-word names, an acronym, a surname: the year now ending was full of variety for anyone interested in branding trends. Here, in alphabetical order, are my top ten brand names for 2015.  Continue reading...
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Maybe it's the newly chilly air, or the dwindling daylight, or the thrilling prospect of costumes and candy. Whatever the reason, each autumn brings a harvest of seasonal neologisms, word blends, and commercial coinages as colorful as the falling leaves.  Continue reading...
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"Verbing weirds language." Ad copywriters have made the weirding of language – and especially the verbing of nouns – a signal feature of the current brandscape. They're only the most visible of the language-weirders who are making the culture more expressive... or more vexing, depending on your point of view.  Continue reading...
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