Evocative Words Work Wonders
Give a mundane product an evocative name and you will dramatically increase its appeal.
Humans are uniquely gifted to attach complex meanings to sounds. Some of these sounds are musical; pitch, key, tempo, rhythm, interval and contour. But much more specific in their meanings are phonemes, the building blocks of words.
Cat and Kite begin with the same sound. Ignore, for a moment, that C and K are different letters. The phoneme is the sound, not the letter. The sound represented by the letters “ch” in chirp, cherry and cheerful is another phoneme.
There are only 40 phonemes in the English language. If you want to get fussy, you can count the unvoiced “th” sound in with as a different phoneme than the voiced “th” in the. If you continue down that road, you can find as many as 44 different phonemes. But that’s all.
Forty-four sounds allow you and I to know each other’s thoughts.
The Bible opens and closes with stories about the importance of names. Genesis tells us that Adam’s first task was to name all the animals. In the Revelation of John we read, “I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”
Names are important. This is a fact known to every cognitive neuroscientist.
Nouns originate and are interpreted in a region of the brain just behind your left ear known as Wernicke’s area, connected by the arcuate fasciculus – a high-bandwidth bundle of nerves – to another region slightly forward of your left ear known as Broca’s area, where we attach the sounds we call “verbs” to the actions we need to name. Broca’s area then coordinates the diaphragm, larynx, lips and tongue so that we can form the rapid succession of phonemes in that positively human display called speech.
Information gathered by the eyes, muscles and skin is routed through Broca’s area on its way to the dorsolateral prefrontal association area, the home of the visuospatial sketchpad*, the mind’s eye, where we “see” things in our imaginations. All of this is connected to the ear.
Yes, humans are uniquely gifted to attach complex meanings to sounds. And we are uniquely gifted to make those sounds, as well.
All of this is well documented.
Shape and Color are visual languages.
Phonemes and Music are auditory languages.
Painters use paint and brush. Fashion designers use cloth and scissors. Jewelers use metals and gemstones. Visual artists, gifted in the languages of Shape and Color, often expect their work to “speak for itself.”
But it can’t.
If you will add to these visual languages an evocative name, the listener – your customer – will craft their own unconscious bond to the thing you have named. A well-chosen name focuses and accelerates the talent of the visual artist and gives that talent greater impact.
A designer and a poet holding hands can reshape the world.
Here’s a 60-second radio ad built upon the evocative naming of visual products.
SARAH: Christmas is coming!
SEAN: And what could be better
SARAH: than designer diamond earrings!
SEAN: You’ve never seen ANYTHING like these.
SARAH: From diamond Hugs and Kisses
SEAN: two-hundred-ninety-nine dollars
SARAH: to the fabulous hoops of the Renaissance Queen.
SEAN: Twenty-five-hundred-thirty-nine dollars.
SARAH: See them on our website.
SEAN: The Diamond-Studded SUPERSTAR.
SARAH: The Summer of Love.
SEAN: Cinnamon Roll earrings!
SARAH: Fairy Tale hoops.
SEAN: Forever THIN.
SARAH: Sparkling Springtime!
SEAN: Pink CHAMPAGNE hoops
SARAH: and Captured Hearts
SEAN: Buried TREASURE hoops
SARAH: [sexy] and the Diamond Negligee.
SEAN: The Ocean Journey
SARAH: and the Embassy Ball.
SEAN: We have Splish-Splash earrings
SARAH: and Drop-Drops!
SEAN: Diamond Sunflowers
SARAH: and The Four Seasons of Vivaldi.
SEAN: Did you mention Snuggles and the Colors of Light?
SARAH: No, you did.
SARAH: Just now.
SARAH: Designer diamond earrings start at just 299 dollars
SEAN: at Spence
SARAH: and Spence Diamonds dot-com.
SEAN: Do we need to give them the address?
SARAH: No, they can find us.
Do you want to see these earrings?
Of course you do.
Because you’re human.
Some words describe what is outside a listener.
But other words evoke what is within them.
Evocative words and phrases connect with core values and allow the listener to attach their own story to what you are selling.
Roy H. Williams
* Working Memory, (1986) by Dr. Alan Baddeley