Do you know a job called ‘Namist’? Namists create brand names for a company or a product. Some people may think that naming would be easy, but it is not! Lee Mirim, who belongs to the first generation of namists in Korea, says being a namist is like being a swan. Swans always maintain a wonderful figure on the water, but underneath they are pedaling nonstop in order to float around. Likewise, the job of a namist may look easy but the work requires a lot of effort.
As a director of Lee & Brandhaus, Lee made brand names for Heachandle, Yedason, Mychu and Samsung Plaza, etc, through her endless effort and passion. Here’s the story of her life.
1. What was your childhood dream?
My father was a good writer. I also liked writing and started to write when I was a child, maybe I inherited it from my father. In the second grade, I wanted to be a fairy tale writer, and ever since then I’ve dreamed of becoming one. One day I saw a program about copyrighters and that changed my dream. I majored in mass communication because, at that time, that was the closest thing to my area of interest.
2. How did you come across your job?
At the time, a job called namist didn’t exist. Sometimes, clients requested a copyrighter for a brand name. I worked for an advertising agency and, as you know, it is a very busy place to work. One day a co-worker of mine left our company and started her own business creating names. I helped her out, and worked only part time at first. The first name I made was for a children’s clothing line. Meanwhile, the company I was working for had gone out of business, so I decided to work for this company instead. I realized then that this was the chance of a lifetime for me.
3. You are the first generation of namist, which isn’t well-known. What were the most difficult things to overcome?
Of course there were many obstacles, but above all, we didn’t even have a name for our company. Furthermore, today our job name is fixed as “namist,” but at the time we didn’t know what to call ourselves because naming was a new field and there wasn’t even a major regarding our field. In addition, there wasn’t anybody who could teach us so we had to teach ourselves. One of the things we needed to teach ourselves was creating catchy words. At first, we were busy searching the dictionary for words just to make names. That’s how we came up with the name for the children’s clothing line, but searching the dictionary wasn’t enough to create names.
4. When you’re working, how do you come across data or information? And I heard that you must also keep up with trends, how do you do it?
I always prepare the database whenever I have time and I gather more data in my favorite field. I tend to be stronger in female-oriented fields such as groceries, but relatively not in machinery. I arrange the months and names for each country and read books about certain types of categories that I need to know. Naming is not just about coming up with words but is also about becoming a half-expert because we have to know the entire product, such as its concept, property and working processes. These days you can also get data from the internet as well, so that helps a lot.
When I go to a café or beauty parlor, I read ladies’ magazines. There are many ads, which is very helpful, and they let me be able to get a grasp on the trend. I go to department stores or around Hongik University or Sinchon to see what the younger generation likes these days. The department stores especially are like my playground and library. There are a lot of products and names and I learn a lot! When I observe them, I say to myself ‘that one is good but this one is bad.’ These methods have been very beneficial to me and have given me the much needed experience I need. .
5. In society, getting an idea is not easy. How do you improve your creativity?
If you want to improve your creativity, you have to think outside the box. You need to see various points of views and be able to think in different ways. One good example I will tell you is about a golf course. I’ve been to golf courses, and usually in a round of golf, when a player hits the ball, everyone stops everything. But a stadium called Coliseum in Arizona is different from others. Like the real Coliseum, people sit or stand, and they eat, yell out a cheer, or jeer every time when a player hits a ball. This is kind of like thinking outside the box.
6. What were the greatest moments of your work?
There are some products that I’ve named but weren’t launched at all or simply disappeared and that can be disappointing at times. So I feel really great when a brand I named is launched and becomes famous. When I see my products in a department store, I’m really pleased with myself. Sometimes I tell other people, ‘I named it!’ One day my nephew asked me, ‘Did you come up with the name Heachandle? I love the name and the products!’
7. What are the favorite names you have come up with? Are there any names created by other people, which have become your favorite?
Among my works, I like ‘Red Roof.’ It was name for a card brand from Kyobo, but it no longer exists. It was my first creation, so it was very dear to me. I also love the Korean brands like Heachandle and Yedason.
Among other people’s works, I love ‘A house filled with happiness’ and Apple. Most titles of women’s magazines are made with the word ‘woman’ and the company’s name. But ‘A house filled with happiness’ was very shocking and unprecedented. Apple is too. I think it is really nice because it breaks the mold. Commonly people name electronic products after their last name but Apple was not one of them. Although the word, Apple, didn’t exactly match with a machine, it shows the best brand value. The story of how the name came is just amazing.
8. Any word of advice for those who want to be a namist?
I think the field of namist is very small compared to other jobs. However it is a growing market and it will need many namists one day. The demand is growing, but you have to consider whether this line of work is really meant for you. If not, I do not recommend it. The work is really hard and requires so much passion. Nevertheless, if you do want this you should have a large vocabulary. In addition, you must study marketing, design, and Trademarks Law. You should know product concepts and be able to match a design with a brand and a name, and you must also be able to create a brand mark. We have to consider these things ahead of time. Marketing is important because these days new products are being produced daily and you might have trouble with copyrights, so knowing the trademark laws is also important.
9. Paraphrase Namist.
I was originally going to say that it is people who create new cultures, but I think a better definition would be to say that they are people who breathe life into a brand. The name itself gives recognition to these people, so I think by giving a name to a brand, I give it a life.
10. These days there are many students who worry about grades or getting a job, what would you like to say to them?
Today, unemployment is a serious problem, but we must remember that it has always been hard and it will continue to be so. No matter how hard finding a job may be, there are always people who get work. The point is, ‘Do your best.’ As long as you do your best, you are bound to find a path that is right for you. Learn how to adjust to the evolving society. The fact that never changes is that you must always try your best. You should never wait for an apple to fall from a tree, but instead go up there and try to grab it.
People prefer stable and high-salaried jobs, but I wanted to do something free and challenging. If you want to do something that is new, don’t be afraid to try. In occupations that already exist, it is difficult to be on top; but you could be easily on top in a new field. You can find your way if you take into consideration these three things; aptitude, changing society, and your area of interest.
Mirim Lee is turning 50 soon, but she still goes to Sinchon and department stores everyday to experience something new. Her passion makes all this possible. Still in our fresh 20s, where have you been pouring your passion? Maybe you prefer stable and high-salaried jobs but don’t know what you like. Maybe you haven’t even yet seen the world. So let’s find our own way. Try to participate in as many activities as you can and try out some volunteer work. Don’t be anxious about finding jobs when you’re still in college. Even though it might be unstable and unknown at first, you can still overcome those obstacles as long as your passion is still burning. < Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >