Wednesday, January 26, 2011
A Rose By Any Other Name
No one in the naming world has generated more envy than a boutique firm called Lexicon. You may not recognize the name. But Lexicon has created 15 billion-dollar brand names, including BlackBerry, Dasani, Febreze, OnStar, Pentium, Scion, and Swiffer.
Consider its recent work for Colgate, which was preparing to launch a disposable mini toothbrush. (...) Lexicon founder and CEO David Placek's (...) asked his network of linguists -- 70 of them in 50 countries -- to start brainstorming about metaphors, sounds, and word parts that connote lightness. Meanwhile, he asked another two colleagues within Lexicon to help. But he kept these two in the dark about the client and the product. Instead, he gave this team -- let's call them the excursion team -- a fictional mission. He told them that the cosmetics brand Olay wanted to introduce a line of oral-care products and it was their job to help it brainstorm about product ideas.
Notice what's missing from the Lexicon process: the part when everyone sits around a conference table, staring at the toothbrush and brainstorming names together. ("Hey, how about ToofBrutch -- the URL is available!") Instead, Lexicon's leaders often create three teams of two, with each group pursuing a different angle. Some of the teams, blind to the client and the product, chase analogies from related domains. For instance, in naming Levi's new Curve ID jeans, which offer different fits for different body types, the excursion team dug into references on surveying and engineering.
Fast Company gives us a quick look at how Lexicon goes about picking a name for some of the biggest brands we know today. Not sure how you feel about their process, but I love how they approach a problem from various angles rather than combining all efforts in a single direction. You can read the full article on their site here.