How to name a product…so it sounds right.

The science behind the way a name should sound.

Which sounds faster to you – ‘zeep’ or ‘forgar’?

And which one of those do you think is bigger?

When you’re naming a new product, you need to know.

I’m betting you thought ‘zeep’ was faster and smaller, and ‘forgar’ was slower and larger.

That’s because the phonetics of a word – the way it sounds to your ears and feels on your tongue – shape your preconceptions of whatever is associated with it.

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To people all around the world, ‘z’ sounds faster than ‘s’.

And front vowels, like those in ‘beat,’ ‘bit’ and ‘bet’ feel smaller, lighter and less powerful than the back vowels you find in ‘but,’ ‘bought’ or ‘boot’.

There’s an argument from evolutionary psychology to support this: different sized objects are associated with different types of noises. Consider the whine of a small flying insect (‘zzzeee’) compared to the roar of a lion.

There are also cultural factors – ‘q’ and ‘z’ are more modern-sounding consonants to western ears partly because they’re unusual in our everyday language.

So the next time you’re naming a product, it helps to remember that it isn’t just about semantics. You also need to create the sound of the word as well.

Verbal Identity are brand strategists with expertise in linguistics and psychology. If that’s a recipe that sounds interesting to you and your company, let’s have a coffee.