"One thing we're sure about," my client told me, "is that we want our new name to be used as a verb." He and his team had already rejected several internally developed names because they weren't "verbable" enough.
I hear this request frequently. "We want our name to be used like Google, TiVo, or FedEx," a client will say. As in: You don't "perform a Google search"; you Google it. You don't "record a program on a TiVo DVR"; you TiVo it. And if you want your package to arrive overnight, you FedEx it.
To many clients, the ability to transform a corporate or product name into a verb is the definition of brand success. But is it really?
When clients insist on a verbable corporate or product name, I counter with a simple question: "What's the verb?"
In other words, what's the action you want your brand name to represent?
The answer isn't always obvious. My client, in fact, was stumped. His product has two major functions, each associated with a different verb. One "verbable" brand name wouldn't cover both actions. In fact, it would confuse customers.
Besides, verbability is a red herring. Hundreds of companies and businesses have succeeded without verbable brand names. You don't Gap your closet, Adobe a document, Tiffany your sweetheart, or Budweiser your refrigerator. In fact, of Interbrand's list of 100 top global brands, only three—Google, Xerox, and (maybe) BlackBerry—are commonly used as verbs.
In the end, my client admitted that the verbability requirement was unrealistic and unnecessary. We've agreed on more productive naming criteria.
My two cents: If it works, go for it. But to make verbability a non-negotiable demand is to impose a needless and often unsuitable limitation on your naming process.
There's a great Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin, after pondering the transformation of 'access' from something that one has to something that one does, remarks that 'verbing' weirds language. Hobbes observes that at some point, perhaps we could make language a complete impediment to understanding.
Posted by: Des | November 12, 2009 at 05:46 PM
Hello, Des! I'm very familiar with "verbing weirds language." See my original post on this subject, from July 2006: http://bit.ly/1GOlpq
Here's the Calvin and Hobbes strip you refer to: http://bit.ly/4eGssD
Posted by: Nancy Friedman | November 12, 2009 at 05:52 PM
If a client ask me for that, I'd tell him to FCUK it!
Posted by: Eddie Haydock | November 13, 2009 at 07:41 AM
So, you Wordworked him? :-)
Posted by: mike | November 15, 2009 at 01:48 PM