Great designers don't only set out to succeed visually, they understand the power of words and how creative and appropriate copy can strengthen a project's concept and effectiveness. Professional designers often work with copywriters, whose job is to write the words for advertisements, publications, websites etc. The opportunity to develop copy for self generated/school projects will better prepare you to work with or without a copywriter on staff once you graduate.
The Namestorming Process
The namestorming process for developing a title is a great exercise to build your creative copywriting skills. I'll go through the process below (adopted from Mashable), using a student's concept for a restaurant project as an example.
Restaurant Concept: Dinner with your dog
To start, we'll braindump everything (there's no wrong answer, write it all down!) that comes to mind in each particular category below:
1. LITERAL CONCEPTS These should be words that directly relate to and describe the business, product, function, and/or service.
restaurant food service dining pets pet care meals convenient sharing bond men inclusive comfy laid back social relaxing dogs dog food
2. FIGURATIVE CONCEPTS Push past the obvious and expand to include names, feelings, events and moments.
restaurant - spot, joint, diner, dive
food - grub, sustenance, snack, life force, nutrition
service - with a smile, tips, waiter/waitress
dining - fine, champagne, linens, candlelight, lady & the tramp, spaghetti, italian, low light, strung lights, patio, outdoors
pets - puppies, kittens, birds, fish
pet care - petco, grooming, leash, collar, ID tag, fleas, ticks,
meals - 3 a day, breakfast, lunch, dinner
convenient - fast, friendly, easy, time saving, clock, minutes, hours, stop watch
sharing - cut in half, shaking hands, unselfish, giving, loving, compassionate
bond - glue, tape, welding, stiching, togetherness, gold bond, james bond, an unspoken bond
singles - independent, kraft, dollar bills, meet people, singled out
inclusive - inviting, open, friendly, understanding
comfy - pillows, cushions, clouds, bed, arm chair, recliner, couch, dog bed
laid back - easy going, stretched out, feet up, arms back
social - meet people, talk, drinking, music, conversation, chit chat, banter, flirt
relaxing - de-stress, comfortable
dog - fido, doggy, dog-eat-dog world, dog days, hair of the dog, fire hydrant, chew toys
dog food - beggin strips, bones, pig ears, alpo, dad's, steak, water bowl, chewy, slobber, messy, crunch, scraps, scraping bowl
3. THESAURUS This will vastly expand your bank of words collected in step three and open up a lot of new possibilities! Try Merriam-Webster (free) or Visual Thesaurus (free trial). Using just one word below, you can see how much I missed!
dog (domestic animal) - canine, doggy (or doggie), hound, pooch, cur, mongrel, mutt; bitch; lapdog, pup, puppy, puppy dog, whelp; bandog, bird dog, coonhound, courser, gundog, hunter, sheepdog, sled dog, watchdog, wolf dog, wolfhound; guide dog, police dog, working dog
dog (a person whose behavior is offensive) - bastard, beast, bleeder [British], blighter [chiefly British], boor, bounder, bugger, buzzard, cad, chuff, churl, clown, creep, cretin, crud [slang], crumb [slang], cur, dirtbag [slang], dog, fink, heel, hound, joker, louse, lout, pill, rat, ratfink, reptile, rotter, schmuck [slang], scum, scumbag [slang], scuzzball [slang], skunk, sleaze, sleazebag [slang], sleazeball [slang], slime, slimeball [slang], slob,snake, so-and-so, sod [chiefly British], stinkard, stinker, swine, toad, varmint, vermin
From Visual Thesaurus:
Now I'm thinking even more about the various meanings of the word dog, and since this is a restaurant, I'll certainly add all of the food related categories to my list. Step three can seem tedious, but it definitely pays off. If time is not on your side, start with the words that relate most to your concept and the direction you want your title to go. For example, I know I want my version of this restaurant to be more of a masculine, beer-drinking, sports-watching atmosphere, so I can quickly eliminate words like candlelight, italian, champagne etc.
4. EXAMPLES AND TYPES Going back to your root list expand the main ideas into examples and types that further describe each word.
Dog - Top 10: Labrador retrievers, german shepherds, golden retrievers, beagles, bulldogs, yorkshire terriers, boxers, poodles, rottweilers, dachshunds
Restaurant - coffee shops, bar, diner, joint, inn, outlet, saloon, cafeteria, grill, hideaway, dive, canteen, café, greasy spoon, luncheonette, dining room, lunchroom, chophouse, eatery, pizzeria, drive-in, doughtnut shop, fast-food place, hamburger stand, hashery, hotdog stand, night club, soda fountain, watering hole
Types of Dog Owners - The BFF’s: your dog is your sidekick; The Norms: you adopted a dog because it’s the American way; The Look-a-likes: your dog has been a part of your life for many years; The Fashionistas: your dog is your baby; therefore, you take care of him like a small child; The Worker Bees: you and your dog are a team
4. Phrases and Sayings I'm sure by now you've already listed a few in one or more of the steps above, but this is another chance to include more common catch phrases, slang terms, quotes, cliches, idioms etc. It's worth it to do some research here as well.
dog-eat-dog dog days of summer give a dog a bone every dog has his day man's best friend who's walking who sit stay roll over paw shake go get him speak your a dog what's up dawg quit begging barking up the wrong tree barking mad hair of the dog fed to the dogs in the dog house the tail wagging the dog you cant teach an old dog new tricks sick as a dog hot diggity dog top dogs lucky dog work like a dog meaner than a junk yard dog dog tired let sleeping dogs lie pooper scooper dog treats bow wow
dinner is served soup's on bite more off than you can chew bite the hand that feeds you bottoms up bring home the bacon chew the fat come and get it done to a t down the hatch food for thought grab a bite take home a doggie bag grab a bite happy hour
5. Mix and Match Now that you have a plethora of reference material, start pulling out words and phrases that catch your eye and try combing them into titles. Once again, don't worry if they are bad, silly or inappropriate - you only need one good one, but sometimes you have to clear all the other junk out of the way to discover it.
Bring Home the Beggin Strips
Man's Best Friend
The Lucky Dog or Lucky Dog's
Chew the Fat
The Dirty Dog or Dirty Dog's
Kibbles is Served
Dinner and a Doggie
The Doggie Bag
Will Bark for Beer
The Watering Hole
The Fire Hydrant
Lick the Hand that Feeds You
6. Feedback Spend time discussing your list of name within a group and be critical of each. What does the name communicate out of context? Is it original and/or clever? Is it easy to say? Is it memorable? Once you've answered these questions, hopefully you've found the perfect solution. If things aren't quite working out go back to your research and come up with a new list of titles. The possibilities are endless once you've done the backwork, so get to it!