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How Spork Killed the Runcible Spoon

(Or the importance of a catchy name.)

Are you trying to come up with a name for your business, your brand, your product or service? Think Spork.

Ask 5 people what a runcible spoon is – go ahead, ask them. My guess is that maybe 1 in 5 will know. Then ask them what a spork is. Now that they will know. It’s the same thing – and the term “runcible spoon” has been around decades longer. “Runcible spoon” is even immortalized in the 1871 Edward Lear poem, “The Owl and the Pussycat” – yet it hasn’t lived on in people’s memories. Why? Well it just isn’t as catchy as “spork,” which made its first dictionary appearance in 1909.

The portmanteau word “spork” combines the words “spoon” and “fork” – accurately describing this utensil which has tines and a scoop. You get its meaning right away and it’s fun to say, two factors that weigh heavily in its memorability. Then throw in the uniqueness and you’ve got the trifecta – sort of an organic pre-Internets SEO that has remained strong in name recognition for over a century.

Spork made its first New York Times debut in 1952, and you can read all about spork trademarks and patents here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spork. The runcible spoon? Not so much to read about, although you can enjoy The Owl and the Pussycat poem here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171941.

The next time you are tasked with naming something other than a child or a pet, put it to the Spork Test. Is the name 1) descriptive, 2) unique, 3) fun to say (if appropriate)? If so, you just might have a spork on your hands.

~ Denise Blasevick, @AdvertGirl & CEO, The S3 Agency


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