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Wordcraft: The Art of Turning Little Words into Big Business Paperback – March 22, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (March 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400051053
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400051052
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,305,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Frankel has managed to crack open the world of professional namers, a highly guarded group of specialists who focus exclusively on coining brand names. A winning name is crucial to the success of any product, and large companies may spend half a million dollars or more for a cadre of wordsmiths to craft just the right one. A successful name--think of Viagra or FedEx--will leap beyond mere brand recognition to enter the public lexicon. Professional namers don't just sell a name, they craft a complete story to go with it, one that companies will expand on when marketing to the public. Frankel explores the details of the creation of five brand names: BlackBerry, Accenture, Viagra, the Porsche Cayenne, and IBM's e-business, revealing industry-level insight into the characteristics of a good name, and the difficulties involved in finding one that is catchy yet functional. Frankel, a business writer for magazines such as Forbes, Wired, and the New York Times Magazine, briefly worked as a namer himself. A mind-opening examination of image, perception, marketing, and manipulation. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Enlightening, engaging, and entertaining.” —Newsweek

“A thoughtful and engaging exploration of how companies and products get their names nowadays, as well as the function of brands in a global culture . . . Hilarious and revealing.” —Wall Street Journal

“Words always matter, but they really matter to a corporation trying to make its brand the one we remember out of the thousands we see daily. That’s why the stories behind the creation of names like Viagra or Accenture are so surprisingly rich. With the outsider perspective of a journalist, plus insider perspective gained by crossing over into the ‘synthetic language’ business himself, Alex Frankel knows the name game like nobody else.” —Rob Walker, “Consumed” columnist, The New York Times Magazine

“Informative, overdue . . . fascinating.” —San Francisco Chronicle

Wordcraft is a rare peek inside organizations making enormous decisions about their identities and futures—struggling to develop a brand name that captures what they want to be when they grow up. Journalist Frankel talks his way into situations most of us never see. The book is both vivid and lively.” —Chip Heath, professor of organizational behavior, Stanford Graduate School of Business

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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He has created the year's must-read book for anyone in advertising, marketing, business, or the business of names.
"lstalberg"
The best part of the book is Frankel's depiction of the naming of the products of the pharmaceutical industry, especially the naming of Viagra.
R. Hardy
His first-hand experiences provide the reader with a true understanding of how companies craft a brand from a name.
C. Rodde

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By P. DAVIS on August 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Alex Frankel, (a true journalist by nature), delves into the murky waters of brand naming to uncover its hidden mysteries. As a former freelance brand namer himself, Frankel set out to interview the top naming firms in the world, to see if there was any systematic method to the madness of naming. What he discovered instead was an odd assortment of colorful characters, each claiming to possess the "gift" or the "method" to creating great brand names. His insights into expensive "top down" umbrella names and viral "bottom up" organic names I found insightful. Some of the quotes by the people he interviews also merit consideration. It was worth the read just to reaffirm that no one can ever corner the naming market with a system or formula; and that good branding requires more than technical, linguistic ability.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After spending more than ten years in the branding and naming industry, it is great to see a good book about how we do what we do. Frankel's book is funny and true to life. Don't approach it expecting to find succint lessons on how to name things but if you pay attention you'll find yourself picking up some insights into the craft along the way.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Frankel is a journalist and also an insider. The result is a fascinating and authoritative look into an industry that most people dont realize exists: the naming industry. The output of course surrounds us in the form of the brands that have become the new vocabulary of our society and our economy. Well worth the read!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Shakespeare may have had us wonder "What's in a name?" but though roses named differently might smell as sweet, they don't have millions of dollars riding on how well a name works. Corporations do, and they know it, and they are ready to pay other companies big money to make sure that the names do more than the job of just being handy labels for their products. Alex Frankel is a business journalist who has actually formed a company to name things for business, and in _Wordcraft: The Art of Turning Little Words into Big Business_ (Crown), he lets us know how this strange and modern facet of global business works. A brand is not just a name but "... an amalgamation of everything that one thinks about when a particular word is uttered." If corporations are spending millions of dollars to make sure that the names that are so familiar (Prozac, Amazon, Cuisinart) can become familiar and can subtly carry extra emotional weight, it is a good idea that consumers get to know a little bit about how we are being influenced (led, manipulated) in this way.

Frankel's book is an analysis of five brand names: BlackBerry, Accenture, Viagra, the Porsche Cayenne, and IBM's e-business, concentrating on the work of the small firms that name the products of big firms for a fee. The world's first naming firm has its own apt name, Lexicon, and it was responsible for naming the BlackBerry, the handheld e-mail device of Research in Motion. "BlackBerry" is a word with an element of fun to it; it is not, by its own nature, tied to e-mail or messages. This represents in some ways a liability; another considered word, "AirWire", might hint of wireless communication, but BlackBerry did not make people think of what the product did.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "lstalberg" on May 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I will never think of "Viagra" the same way again. Frankel is an astute verbal anthropologist; he takes recent brand names ("blackberry") that have become household words and traces them back to their roots -- back to their early beginnings as ideas in a focus group meeting, scribbles in a whiteboard session, a twinkle in the eye of a member of the word-obsessed "naming" community. The world of creating corporate brand names is both thrilling and terrifying. (You learn how Frito-Lay has teams of scientists who have calculated the precise times of day in which people crave salt or sugar, so the company can play their commercials at the right times.) Frankel, a wonderful wordsmith himself, brings each brand's story alive. He has created the year's must-read book for anyone in advertising, marketing, business, or the business of names.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Lippincott VINE VOICE on May 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
Short and sweet, that's how I describe this nice little book about the importance of naming your business and/or products so revenues will be maximized. It also discusses extensively the way in which companies go about thinking up great names for their businesses and/or products.

After a book is written it has to be packaged before it is sold. It can be a wonderful book, but if the cover isn't flashy and the title just right, then sales will suffer. In a way, this book is about the importance of choosing the right title for a book. A book is a product isn't it? But it also talks about titling (naming) businesses, too.

There's really no systematic method to the madness of naming, and we learn this by reading this book. But naming is VERY important just the same. Besides a book full of content on the naming industry, what we get out of this book is five stories describing how big-time successful brand names got started, three of which were BlackBerry, Accenture, and Viagra.

I regularly meet with entrepreneurs in my capacity as a volunteer SCORE counselor. And people starting a business usually don't discuss with me their new business' name. And I rarely raise the issue. It usually is not viewed as an important topic to consider. But after reading this book I think the author makes it clear that naming a business or product is a very important thing to consider when starting a business or developing a product. As a result, I highly recommend that any entrepreneur give this book a read so they can hopefully not hurt their business by choosing a "less than" name.

I would have liked the book better if the Table of Contents had had chapter titles that were more descriptive of the book's content. There are 11 chapters in this book, but known are worth naming here. 5 stars!
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