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Etymology: When you can't have it, find it in the unexpected

Posted by: Interbrand on November 15, 2012

When you can't have it, find it in the unexpected

There are (arguably) approximately 650 thousand words in the English language. There are more than 2.5 million trademarks in the US alone.

OK, so we'll add in other languages – modern and ancient, used and unused – and, sure, the number shoots up. But then there are more than 27 million active trademarks, not to mention more than 201 million websites registered globally – and the numbers increase daily. Somewhere out there, someone owns the word you want.

In the face of such heady numbers, how do we ensure we've not run out of ideas, or worse, run out of words?

Because we know there's always something new to say, and a word with which to do it. Yes, there are the mainstays – bizarre spellings, outrageous coinings – but while they often work, not everything has to have that default. Instead, by stretching a creative brief into different shapes, a brand can find an unexpected real word, or even create a new familiar sounding word to add to our lexicon.

Unexpected is exactly what a creative brief should yield, but it takes some concerted effort, and a lot of imagination. One tool that namers have often turned to is the area of semiotics. A sometimes maligned study of signs and symbolism, within it there is a pragmatic approach whereby focusing on the simplest meaning of an idea, one most people can relate to, we can tease out multiple shades of expression. By using these as creative territories, more words suddenly come to the fore.

Find out how to discover treasure in unexplored territories in Semiotics Rising. In a time of over-communication, it seems we still have more words.


Semiotics Rising

Category: Etymology

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