1. Be clear.
Follow the KISS principle: Keep it simple, stupid. (xem thêm bài: Nguyên tắc KISS trong viết tiếng Anh – Keep it short and simple)
Example: A clear and clever maxim that sums up food writer Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food is “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
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2. Paint a picture.
Using sensory information makes abstract ideas easier to remember through association. Sensory includes the visual, but also the sensuous and auditory.
Examples: Company names like Yelp, Twitter, and Yahoo! engage our auditory imaginations.
3. Use ambiguity for good, not evil.
You can get two meanings for the price of one, but your word choice must be intentional and both interpretations spot-on.
Example: David Bellamy’s country music lyric, “If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me?”
4. Give it rhythm.
There is a natural, or default, emphasis on various syllables of words in the English language. Different rhythms can also create different moods.
Example: We use the phrase “salt and pepper” versus “pepper and salt.”
5. Play with poetic patterns.
The tools of poetry lend musicality to language and include repetition, rhyme, and assonance (repetition of vowel sounds), as well as alliteration.
Examples: Company slogans like “Relax, it’s FedEx” and Mitsubishi’s “Better built, better backed”
6. Break the rules but only if it sounds right.
You can do this a variety of ways. Be playful!
Examples that use misspelling: Company names like Tumblr and Google, a play on googol
Example that uses grammar differently: Apple’s slogan “Think different”
7. Coin a new word.
New words help us keep pace with the changes in science, technology, business, and society.
Example that reuses an existing word: spam (canned ham and now unwanted email)
Example of creating a new compound word: YouTube
Example that makes an analogy/play on words: podcast
8. Repeat structures.
Also known as parallelism, this repetition of phrasal structures can give a message balance and rhythm.
Example: John F. Kennedy’s famous quotation, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
9. Evoke conversation.
Relate your message to the kind of normal, intimate conversations people have with their friends, family, and colleagues daily. Provide a familiar, everyday context.
Example: Amazon’s tagline directly addresses its consumers with “. . . And You’re Done.”
10. Establish a relationship.
What you say and how you say it conveys a lot about how you understand a relationship underlying and implied by the message.
BAD example: Chase’s slogan after the financial collapse of 2008: “Let’s start banking better, Washington.”
11. Create a microvoice.
You need a singular voice to participate in the web conversation.
Example: When Johnson writes his blog, “The Name Inspector,” he adopts a persona that’s a “cartoon” version of himself, highlighting certain aspects of his training, experiences, and humor.
Christopher Johnson, author of MICROSTYLE: The Art of Writing Little, is a verbal branding consultant, blogger, and author. He received his PhD in linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley, and has worked at Lexicon, one of the country’s top naming firms. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
Copyright © 2011 by Chirstopher Johnson, PhD