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How to make your name stick

In our overcommunicated society, we are constantly bombarded with messages that seem to be just one big blur of sameness. Limited by society's very short attention span, your marketing message has to be effective to the degree that it must communicate its essence and create top-of-mind awareness within an extremely short amount of time. Names are often the best tools -- and sometimes the only ones -- for accomplishing this efficiently.

When positioning your company or product, your name has to stick firmly in the mind of the marketplace and must do so instantly. While uniqueness is an important factor, there are many other elements that can help the anchoring process -- elements that help a name memorable as well as chosen when a customer experiences a specific need or desire. So, here are some simple rules to follow when choosing a name for your company or product.

What Does it Do?

To make a company or product name truly memorable, it should convey its main feature or benefit. If I give you the word "Die Hard" for instance, you will think of a battery that dies hard. If I tell you "Jiffy Lube," you will naturally assume that it's a garage offering oil changes in a jiffy. If I tell you "Band-Aid," you will picture an adhesive bandage that comes to your aid.

Names that do not convey at least the basic nature of a company will be easily forgotten. This includes hard-to-pronounce words, abbreviations, and acronyms such as "MGF Holdings Limited." It also includes self-titled companies such as "Michel Fortin International" (which was, believe it or not, the name of my original company -- one that nonetheless failed).

Benefits are particularly effective because such a name would make a company or product appear as if it had some added value. When placed alongside a competitor offering an identical product, a benefit-based name positions itself above the competition in the mind. As a result, the name will thus be quickly remembered when people make their decision to buy.

Rhymes Move Minds

Since the invention of the printing press, the written word has made it easy for us to forget names. Consequently, the process of rhyming has in the same way gradually fallen out of favor. But strangely, what we remember the most are, for example, the nursery rhymes that we were told as children. In today's memory management courses, people are told to use rhymes and word association in order to improve their memory. Rhyming is therefore effective because it is pleasing to the ear and helps to hook words easily in the mind.

Beyond ease-of-recall, rhyming also tends to add credibility. Psychology professor Dr. Matthew McGlone has found that rhymes not only make a phrase more memorable, they also make it more believable (read his research results at http://ww2.lafayette.edu/~mcglonem/rhyme.htm). According to his research, people preferred "woes unite foes" over "misfortune unite foes" or "woes unite enemies." As he points out, "People often attribute the aesthetic quality of a rhyme to the statement's validity, which suggests that people may unknowingly equate beauty (a rhyme's singsong quality) with truth." In other words, rhymes confer a greater sense of credibility.

While some names can easily rhyme since they use multiple words (e.g., "Blinds of All Kinds" or "Ronald McDonald"), most names are made up of only one word. If they can not rhyme at least within themselves (e.g., "Rodeo" or "Coca-Cola"), then the job would be conferred unto their taglines -- those small sentences that follow and complement names.

For example, if I said "It takes a licking but keeps on ticking," you will probably remember this phrase if not instantly recognize the product with which this tagline is associated. And if the tagline rhymes with the name (such as "Uh, Oh! Better get Maaco!" or "When you need an edge, use Pledge"), the name will stick even more effectively as a result.

Repetition Resonates

What do "Saran-Wrap," "Coca-Cola," "Willy Wonka," "GI Joe," "Barbie," "Hamburger Helper," "Crispy Crunch," and "Blockbuster" all have in common? Similar to rhymes, the repetition of consonants give a name that pleasant and obviously effective singsong quality. Repetition makes a name memorable by making the pronunciation more simple. In other words, it is definitely easier to remember a string of similar sounds than it is to remember a combination of totally different sounding words. Did you "see the softer side of Sear's" lately?

Rhymes and repetitious consonants used in order to make a name more memorable are called mnemonics. Mnemonics are not only useful but also effective, particularly in the branding process. From the simplest product to the most abstract or complex technical service, a memorable name helps to make the company or product memorable as well.

About the author
Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter and consultant dedicated to turning sales messages into powerful magnets. Get a free copy of his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning," when you subscribe to his free monthly ezine, "The Profit Pill." See http://SuccessDoctor.com/ now!

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