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The Danger of Frankenames

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Guest Bloggers, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts

-Mark Prus, Principal, NameFlash

What are Frankenames? They are names created by slamming two or more word parts together to make a new name. This would include a name like “Toasterrific” (toaster + terrific).

Who creates Frankenames? My observation is that a lot of companies generate Frankenames during internal brainstorming sessions. Slamming two unrelated words together in a “clever” way is easy, and it makes you feel like you are taking into account the needs of your consumer.

In reality, you are probably just confusing your customer. Often when creating a Frankename, companies truncate one word and/or overlap a letter or two to make it look like they created a new word. And if you stare at it long enough, you can see the cleverness. But consumers don’t spend as much time thinking about the name as you do, so they miss the cleverness.

Consider the attempt to develop a slogan for Edinburgh, Scotland. A marketing company was paid a “six figure sum” to develop a slogan to provide global branding and a dynamic image to Edinburgh. The name they came up with? “Incredinburgh.” Can you imagine the process at the marketing company? “Wow, what a great idea! Let’s combine incredible and Edinburgh together to make a uniquely memorable slogan!” The marketing company obviously got caught up in the cleverness of their idea and after staring at it for a long period of time (or perhaps in the absence of any other good names or slogans) and decided it was the best idea they had.

Hey Edinburgh, I love your city and would do a much better job for you as a pro bono project!

Another great example is POOLIFE (see photo below). This name is obviously intended to create a sense of luxury; however, the thoughts of what a “poo life” might be are anything but appealing.

The danger of a Frankename is obvious, but bears repeating. No matter how clever you think you are being, consumers really don’t care and won’t work to get the meaning. If the consumer cannot grasp what you are saying in a fraction of a second, they will pass right by. Do some simple checking with your target consumer (not your brother-in-law) and you can ferret out the issues before you create a monster!