Anatomy of a Name

For fifteen years, Lexicon Branding, Inc., has been studying the ways that sounds and word parts communicate. Since our beginning in 1982, our team has been devoted to putting words together seamlessly. Over the years we have grown to include creative people experienced in many languages and cultures as well as three Ph.D.s in linguistics.


What is it about the Zima name that makes it so effective and evocative?

First, there are two implications:

Zima is the Russian word for winter.

Russian vodka is the quintessential clear alcoholic beverage, associated with both the aristocracy and the common man.


You could be forgiven if you first thought BlackBerry was just another cute, quirky high tech name.

However, the name’s uniqueness heralded a game changer in mobile communications. It announced BlackBerry not just as a new addition to an expanding market but actually as a new type of device with functionality far beyond what terms like phone or digital assistant conveyed.

The name’s playfulness didn’t detract from the BlackBerry’s obvious precedent-shattering technical features. If anything, it seemed to give early adopters—often executives and government officials—permission to say how much they loved their BlackBerry. Before long, users—playfully again—found the device so compelling they dubbed it their CrackBerry.

Swiffer or Ready Mop?

Ready Mop announces, I’m a mop.

Swiffer responds, I’m a new floor-cleaning technology.

Even among their few fans, mops lack glamour. Swiffer rejects mop-hood in favor of a more exciting identity.

The name uses uniqueness to point to its inventive technology and peppy sounds to suggest that it cleans quicker than anything that came before. At the same time, it expresses allegiance to traditional mop values by sounding similar to the term sweeper.


How can a brand name for purified water capture freshness, relaxation and a distinctive personality without overpromising? The coined name Dasani managed to do this, thanks to its linguistic structure and its one meaningful root—san—that means clean, healthy.

The name’s elemental quality comes from its three basic syllables: da, sa and ni.

The CV syllable (a single consonant followed by a vowel) is the very basis of pronunciation in the world’s language, yet in English, it’s rare for a three-syllable word to consist solely of such simple syllables. (Look for words composed entirely of CV syllables on this page, and you’ll find them in the simplest words, like of and the.)