Thursday, November 17, 2016

Naming Things

One of the most difficult aspects of the creative process is naming the thing.

What you call your creation can have a deep impact on how people perceive it and how (or if) they use it.

For example, this morning I saw a concrete truck with the brand name "Putzmeister" emblazoned on its side. Turns out that Putzmeister is a large US company. I might have gone for a different name, though.

More telling is the story of "poop juice", an ancient treatment for digestive issues (otherwise known as Fecal Transplant). The patient drinks a mixture of water and a healthy donor's poop. Apparently, it works. Doctors call it "yellow soup". Rolls off the tongue better than "poop juice", eh?

Today, when attention spans are shorter than ever, it's vital to develop catchy titles that draw readers in. My informal (and decidedly unempirical research) clearly shows that titles  with a number in them are favored by click-baiters - evidence that it works: "5 top reasons to drink soup" or "The 23 most influential people of 2016".

But there is one time when naming your creation is a far more critical undertaking than any other time. A newborn comes into this world clean and fresh and new. Don't give the child a name they will be embarrassed to use. For example, if your family name is Smith, give the kid an interesting first name. You don't want "Bob Smith" to check in to a motel in 30 years time with his wife and the reception clerk winks at him "yeah, right..."

So, my advice: be creative, be careful, and don't drink yellow soup.


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