The popularity of "verbing" has seemed to increase lately. For example, when we start a new naming project, inevitably a client will reference the possibility of verbing very early in the discussions. That shifts the focus to selecting a final product name that has the perceived flexibility to one day become a verb.

Google, Seamless, Swiffer—all are proper nouns that have transitioned into popular verbs that describe the action of using the product or service.

Verbing is seen as the pinnacle in the modern branding world, but if you're picking a name specifically for its "verbability," I say, "Don't!" When naming, you should focus on developing a name that best fits the product it will describe. And if the product is superior, the verbing will be (pun not intended) seamless. Why?

You can't force verbing

The process of your product name to becoming a verb has to be organic. The transition from noun to verb must be driven by users and cannot be an artificial creation by marketers and branders.

Just look at the 1990s ad campaign, "Do you Yahoo?!" People never Yahooed, and they certainly do not Yahoo now. It was never a term that made it into the cultural lexicon, partly because of the service and the forced attempts of verbing.

Becoming a verb has to be the result of the superiority of the actual product, not a result from the creative minds of advertisers, which the public feels inauthentic and insincere.

Ultimately, verbability does not come down to the specific name, but the actual product or service itself. If the company is offering something completely different, the word for what it describes may simply not exist yet.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Dan Cohen

Dan Cohen is senior namer at Siegel+Gale, a global brand strategy, design, and experience firm.

LinkedIn: Dan Cohen