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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The 200th anniversary of astronomer Charles Messier's death is a great opportunity to gaze into the night sky and examine the curious patterns in the way we name faraway objects that were known to us for most of human history only by their luminous appearances.  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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Alphabet, Google's new parent company, has generated lots of business buzz this week. But the choice of "Alphabet" for the company's name is equally newsworthy. Not only does it signal a departure from Google's blandly descriptive naming style — Google Plus, Google Maps, Google Mail, and so on — but it also takes an imaginative flight away from geek-speak and toward a universe of names inspired by language and literature.  Continue reading...
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