What some call magic, we call Constructional Linguistics


Here’s How It Works

Company and product names, like all nouns, are built from small units of language called morphemes.

Morphemes are transmitters of semantic meaning. Think of them as the DNA of language. When morphemes are combined they form words and names with built-in meaning.

For example, the van in advantage or vanguard is a morpheme that means top of or in front of in every word it appears. Depending on what other morphemes, prefixes and suffixes it’s combined with, the result is a word or name with related but different meaning.

American English contains more than 8,000 morphemes. We select all of the morphemes that express what you want your name to communicate. By combining these morphemes, we construct new words, called neologisms, to create candidate names.

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Company and product names don’t exist in a vacuum. Customers bring their experiences with similar products and services to their perception of your name.

Because of this, we analyze the set competitive identities your name will join to understand the real but unarticulated linguistic rules that govern your category.

Candidate names are then tested against these “rules” to ensure that our proposed naming solutions are positioned to work effectively for you.

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A long list of candidate company and product names is subjected to additional analysis, yielding a list of major candidates that have been adjusted to improve visibility, memorability and comprehension.

We fine-tune candidates for speechstream visibility, phonetic transparency, notational visibility, and multilingual function.

Speechstream visibility is the likelihood that your name will be recognized in spoken English.

Phonetically transparent names are spoken as spelled and easily pronounced. Because we learn to speak years before we learn to read language is sound in the brain. We think and remember in sound rather than in alphabetic notation. Because our brain is wired this way, your company or product's phonetically transparent name will be remembered, lowering your cost per retained impression.

Notational visibility is the probability that your company or product's name will stand out in written channels like social and print media, and your website.

An example of how we enhance notational visibility can be seen in Compaq. Originally Compak, we increased the brand’s notational visibility by changing the last consonant “k” to “q”…the first such brand name in the commercial lexicon to terminate in a “q”. As a result, the name pops in print. Because “k” and “q” are phonetically identical (they sound the same), there was little risk of diminished speechstream visibility or phonetic transparency.

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World Names

Most Western languages stem from a single source — Indo-European. This makes it possible to construct company and product names that resonate in most Western nations and Japan (nearly 10% of modern Japanese derives from English).

By eliminating sounds and alphabetic notation not common in the target language, it is possible to construct names that function across linguistic borders.

Negative cultural connotations arise more often than you’d think. One notable example among many is Chevrolet’s Nova, which in Spanish means “doesn’t go”. That isn't good in South and Latin America.

To avoid evoking these negative cultural connotations, names like Sony and Acura are constructed for international use and are often superior to natural words based in a particular language that require translation.

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Intellectual Property

Many clients come to NameLab on the eve of a launch/name change, backs to the wall, having been told at the 11th hour that there are legal concerns surrounding the use of a new name.

We set aside diluted morphemes at your project's onset to minimize time, money and stress wasted on obviously unavailable names

NameLab’s raison d’être, using Constructional Linguistics, is to create meaningful new words — neologisms — that afford you stronger trademark rights and fewer intellectual property headaches.

We pre-screen all domestic candidate names in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s online database, common law files and domain name registries before presenting them to you, increasingly the likelihood that your lawyers will approve their use.

We also screen international names in a worldwide database of nearly 200 countries.