#27 Words have two meaning: connotation and denotation

I renamed a number of companies and products that would otherwise have misled or confused the potential customer. Do not underestimate the power of a good business name. I refer you to this book. These principles, since 1980, have been a key part of marketing.

Positioning the Battle for Your Mind.

Positioning Wiki

A designer usually says, “The business owner is always right about naming and logos.” That is false. No marketing person would back up such a haphazard method. Especially for niche markets. In marketing, the customer [buyer], not the business owner, is always right.

There’s frequently a touch of grandiosity in company naming strategy.

We all fall prey to grandiosity at some moment. I once made the mistake of telling a potential customer that I made smart men rich. He then asked, “And are you rich?”
An embarrassing moment – as I was not rich. I had made men wealthy but he was saying, “Physician heal thyself.” I was humbler after that.

Names and logos have what are called connotative and denotative functions. It’s a way of saying, every word and symbol has two meanings: what is its dictionary definition (denotation) and what is implied (connotation). Words also have a varying degree of potency. The danger when using a name for a business is, “What does it mean to your customer?”

But the method I prefer first is simply to look up connotations in the dictionary. For example, our American culture has assigned implied meaning to many animals: dog, pig, cow, hawk, chicken, weasel, shark, bear, dove, etc. Just put “He (or she) is a …” in front of any of those and you’ll see what I mean.

So if a logo has the silhouette of a goose and as a test, I say you’re a “goose”, what does that imply? It’s not positive. If I goose someone, that is not positive either. These are subliminal meanings. Neither of these meanings is what you want to communicate.

A silly or foolish person; a simpleton.
Slang. a poke between the buttocks to startle.

I generally hedge bringing these things up. Why? Because 51% of the population think psychology is mumbo-jumbo voodoo and mind trickery. And they may be right!

And since you’re curious, my totem is a platypus. Odd, unusual, and unique. It’s taken some time to be comfortable with that weirdness – but I just don’t fit the normal classification of animals. It’s okay by me.

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