Shades of Meaning

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Product namer has to be near the top of many lists of dream jobs, right up there with Chocolate Tester and Sommelier. Ah, the power to command a tea drinker to feel “Calm” or “Awake” or “Orange Bliss” while sipping.

But the name game is more complex than you might think. Whimsy helps, but to be a skilled namer, you have to be a shrewd cultural observer and a marketing whiz, to distinguish your products from the glut and make them feel timely.

You also need to be a wordsmith — something Ford knew in 1955, when the car company asked Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Marianne Moore to help brand its latest model. Among Moore’s exotic ideas: “Mongoose Civique,” “Aeroterre,” and “Utopian Turtletop.” Ultimately, Ford went with “Edsel,” after Henry Ford’s only son; some blame the car’s spectacular failure on its dull name.

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