Phonemes combine to make syllables, which can be open or closed, simple or complex. Each variant has their own distinct qualities that brands names can harness to indicate what they stand for.
In Cracking the lexical code part 1, we investigated the smallest units of sound - letters and phonemes. In part 2 we discuss the next layer of the lexical code - syllables.
Wii® is friendly, whilst Bic® is precise - why?
Wii® ends in a vowel, it is an open syllable. With no distinct end, open syllables are fun to say, that's why nicknames often end with a vowel sound.
Conversely, Bic® is a closed syllable, the vowel is enclosed by consonants. Closed syllables are less flexible, demanding the final consonant sound is clearly articulated.
Bic® and Wii® are also simple syllables, as the consonant sounds are made by a single consonant. Whereas, Three® is a complex syllable, the consonant sound is represented by a consonant cluster (thr).
Open syllables are relaxed and approachable. Brand names like Gü®, Sky®, Three® and Wii® all take advantage of this. Longer examples, that use multiple open syllables, are Coca-Cola®, Haribo® and Yahoo!®. All these brand names are friendly, fun and celebratory, largely thanks to their use of open syllables.
Closed syllables are definitive, requiring careful enunciation. They suggest structure and confidence. Monosyllabic examples include Bic®, Nest® and Sun®. Longer brand names, that use multiple closed syllables, are Comcast®, Lexmark® and Salesforce®. The use of closed syllables means all these brand names are assured and precise, the qualities that might be expected of brands with engineering at their heart.
Words made of simple syllables often have Old English roots, and are easy to say and read. Old English words make up 95% of spoken English and are therefore widely understood. Brand names consisting of simple syllables, often in a consonant-vowel-consonant format, include Bic® and Sun®. These brand names are unintimidating and easy to remember.
Words made from complex syllables are more common in written English, and are less likely to be universally understood. They are sophisticated and technically complicated to say. Brand names where the use of complex syllables is appropriate include Montblanc® and Scalextric®.
By mixing and matching syllable types, you can benefit from the best of both worlds. The surgical microscope, GoScope® we recently named for X-Biomedical achieves this. Go is open, friendly and energetic, Scope is structured and precise.
Hidden meanings and nuances like these lie behind every brand name. By understanding them, they can be harnessed, ensuring the audience hears the story you want to tell.
To understand more about these subliminal linguistic messages, read Cracking the lexical code - part 1.
In the mean time, if you'd like to hire us to run a workshop, or find out more about our NameDek system, that exposes these hidden stories, please get in touch.