Thursday, July 9, 2009
Lessons in Business Naming from Newspaper Headlines
Copyright (c) 2009 Marcia Yudkin
Creative Marketing Solutions
Two headlines in the "Home" section of my local newspaper
caught my eye the other day: "Natural floors can be knotty and
nice" and "Serving cheese with ease." Both headlines involve
enjoyable wordplay of the sort that could easily figure in
business names or tag lines. I can imagine "KnottyandNice.com"
as the domain name for a wooden items crafts shop, and "Cheese
with ease" as the tag line for a cheese lovers' online
So I went looking for some tips on writing news headlines,
thinking they might offer valuable insights for naming, too.
After all, news editors need to come up with informative, catchy
headers numerous times every workday.
Even more challenging, their headers need to fit the available
space. They need to be able to condense or stretch an idea's
expression, depending on how many columns an article spreads
My Google search didn't quickly turn up any such tips, though.
Maybe headline writing is an art passed on in secret by grizzled,
ink-stained veterans during the midnight shift.
Nevertheless, by pondering a couple of dozen headlines, I was
able to observe several key points.
1. Newspaper headline writers collect short, vivid verbs, such as
"mines" ("Obama mines small, red states"), "stirs,"
"pushes," "clings," "set," "edges," "sparks,"
"tosses," "sees," "OKs" and much more. Not only can
headlines with verbs tell a complete story, they convey energy.
Because verbs are frequently overlooked as an element in naming,
these punchy little words can help you come up with a
trademarkable name or a free domain in a competitive industry.
2. Long, vivid words can also come in handy. In the headline
"Super Bowl party can be gastronomical success," the word
"gastronomical" rescues the line from dullness. It's a
wonderful word that could be tweaked in a zillion creative ways
for a company name or tag line.
The lesson: long, vivid words can help you convey a complicated
idea concisely, as long as your average customer has an inkling
of their meaning.
3. Short, vivid words come in useful, too. Take a look at the
word "ire" in the headline "Delay in polar bear decision draws
ire of Senate." This is another kind of word that most people
understand yet probably wouldn't think to use.
4. Combined cleverly, ordinary words can please inordinately.
Besides the rhyme in "cheese with ease" and the homonym in
"knotty and nice," I also found "Hoops and hollers" atop a
photo of kids cheering at a basketball game, which illustrates
alliteration - the repetition of initial letters or sounds.
Another headline, "Bush comes clean with former addicts," used
an expression with two meanings that both tie in with the subject
matter - George W. Bush talking openly about his former drinking
All in all, your newspaper can serve as a source of instruction
and inspiration for naming. Just make sure you screen out
bloopers like these, which have actually appeared in newspapers:
* Blind Woman Gets New Kidney from Dad she Hasn't Seen in Years
* Grandmother of Eight Makes Hole in One
* Quarter of a Million Chinese Live on Water
* Stolen Painting Found by Tree
* Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim
* Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
* Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
* Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Marcia Yudkin is Head Stork of Named At Last, a company that
brainstorms creative business names, product names and tag lines
for clients. For a systematic process of coming up with an
appealing and effective name or tag line, download a free copy of
"19 Steps to the Perfect Company Name, Product Name or Tag Line"
Expert Wordpress Design and Site Promotion
Work At Home Profiles (membership site for $3.77 per month)
Posted by greg at 5:17 AM