Words inspire me.
The more words I see, the more inspired I become. So when I create brand names, I want to be overwhelmed by endless lists of words.
Publications and dictionaries offer words in abundance, but they don't offer an easy way of discovering masses of words relevant to specific ideas or attributes, such as those found in a naming brief.
In my experience, a corpus – a large sample of words in context – is the most useful and comprehensive stockpile of words, especially when searchable in a database.
I have several go-to corpus resources, but one favorite: Sketch Engine.
Sketch Engine: The Most Powerful Naming Tool I've Ever Used
Published by Lexical Computing, Sketch Engine has over 60 corpora to choose from. There are seven English corpora, each comprising millions of words from spoken and written sources. The other 50+ corpora are non-English, spanning the familiar to the exotic. If you are looking for a corpus of German, the Polish Bible or Igbo, you're in luck.
|Some of the corpora you'll find on Sketch Engine|
How to Create Names with Sketch Engine
My starting point for creating names is a review of the name objectives I've developed, particularly the brand's key attributes. To show what Sketch Engine can do, let's pretend we're naming a new brand that should be perceived as strong.
Sketch Engine will provide a deep exploration of the word strong, and inspire names that are differentiated yet relevant.
After logging-in to Sketch Engine – which requires a well-worth-it paid subscription – I click on a specific corpus link to load it. I choose UKWaC, comprised of a mind-boggling 1.3 billion words culled from UK web sites.
Having loaded the corpus, the option to make a concordance is presented by default. Concordances are a great tool for creating natural-sounding compound names because they show how two words have appeared together in a real-world written or spoken context. For example, a concordance of the word "sun" would include beam, burn, flower and moon -- words that commonly appear next to or near the word "sun".
But we're not going to do a simple concordance because another, more powerful tool is available: Word Sketch. A Word Sketch is a like a concordance on steroids. It shows you every word that has appeared next to your query word, organized by part of speech.
|Click Word Sketch on the left to get started|
Let's make a Word Sketch of the word "strong". Click Word Sketch in the blue box on the left, and you're asked to enter a "lemma". A lemma is the most basic form of a word, as you'd find in the headwords of a dictionary. Enter "strong" in the lemma field and choose "adjective" from the pop-up menu.
After clicking the "Show Word Sketch" button, we're presented with listing tables of the specific words that have appeared near or next to "strong" in the texts of the corpus. Tables are organized by grammatical context and include frequency information about each collocation.
Before studying our Word Sketch of "strong", click "More data" in the blue box on the left to fetch more results. Click it a few more times after the data loads to get even more results. And you do want more results, right?
|Part of the Word Sketch of "strong"|
Our Word Sketch of "strong" can be used in different ways to create new brand names.
How to Create Compound Names with Word Sketch
To create compound names that include "strong", navigate to the "adj_subject" and "modifies" columns. These words have been modified by the adjective "strong". Combine "strong" with them and you'll have a nice list of natural-sounding compound names:
Strong TideYou can also consider these words without "strong" as stand-alone names or combine them with other words.
|Scroll through the Word Sketch to explore further|
Feel StrongHow to Develop Symbolic Names with Word Sketch
Our Word Sketch also tells us what symbolizes strong. To see what's "stronger than ___" or "as strong as __", navigate to the columns "pp_than_i" and "pp_as_i":
SteelCan your dictionary do that?
Some of these words will combine well with words from other columns, giving us interesting ideas like:
Steel BondDiscover New Creative Directions with Word Sketch
The column "and/or" tells us what words combine with "strong" in an and/or phrase. This is helpful for finding words that pair with "strong":
HealthyYou can use these words as springboards for new creative directions that indirectly reflect "strong". For example, "tall" and "healthy" could be separately explored for synonyms, associations and metaphors that lead to new, relevant names.
A Totally New Thesaurus
Sketch Engine also features an interesting thesaurus that gives you options Roget never thought of. The results from this thesaurus are generated automatically, so they include words that aren't synonymous yet are related.
|No ordinary thesaurus|
Click the "Thesaurus" link in the blue box, enter your lemma and choose the part of speech. The results of "strong" offer these interesting ideas:
RealYou might find viable names in this thesaurus or springboards for new directions.
Compare Two Concepts Using Word Sketch
Sketch Engine also has a word comparison tool called Sketch-Diff which reveals the intersection of two words. Let's imagine that we're naming a technology brand that should be perceived as strong and fast.
What qualities do strong and fast have in common?
Click "Sketch-Diff" on the left and enter "strong" for the first lemma and "fast" for the second. Then click "Show Diff".
|Learn what two words have in common|
The result is a an integrated Word Sketch, color coded by the degree to which words collocate with one word or both. Words in red or green collocate with one word, and words in white are common to both.
|A Sketch-Diff comparing "strong" and "fast"|
secureTo create names that reflect both strong and fast, use words from this list as springboards. Digging into the concepts of connection, travel (car and flight), flow, and growth will lead to new names that support or connote multiple aspects of the brand.
In the 20 years I've been creating brand names, I've used a lot of naming tools, but no one resource has been as useful as Word Sketch. Learn how to harness its power and you'll always be inspired.