Is Your Brand Name Like Throwing Up?
December 11, 2023
Kevin Schulman, Founder, DonorVoice and DVCanvass
I promise this title isn’t clickbait while acknowledging it probably feels that way.
The mouth’s first job before words and speech existed was to swallow food and liquid that was digestible and return indigestible items back to nature in reverse order. These days, the mouth has a much bigger role to play notwithstanding the two-to-one ratio of ear to mouth.
But swallowing and talking use the same mouth muscles and as a consequence, some words create a front to back (swallow) muscle contraction, others a back to front (throwing up). More specifically, it’s consonants that involve very specific muscle tension that move from front to the rear or reverse.
This evolutionary red thread subconsciously influences our preference for words that mimic the more pleasant swallowing movements. Researchers have validated this preference across English and German speakers in a variety of product domains.
Here’s two made up words using the same letters in different order to illustrate the effect; KADAP mimics throwing up, PADAK swallowing.
I’m not suggesting YMCA, or Feeding America or Habitat for Humanity change brand names any more than I’m suggesting Nature Conservancy, Red Cross and Catholic Relief Services are successful because their name mimics swallowing.
But in a generative AI era where cranking out 20 subject lines, program names, headlines and teaser copy suggestions is free and done in seconds it’s zero extra work to have it flag those ideas whose words move the mouth from front to rear or rear to front and narrow the final choice set to those ideas you like and that don’t make you vomit.