Word Combos

A method for coming up with creative ideas.

Diana Lillicrap 7.16.2013

Here’s a method for coming up with creative ideas by using thoughtful word combinations. You can use this brainstorming technique to solve a problem, identify opportunities for new products or services, or to generate creative names.

How it works

Identify the main noun and verb in a problem you are trying to solve. Place the noun and verb at the top of two columns and then generate lists of words with similar meanings under each. Once you have dozens of word options, go through the lists and randomly select a word from each column and combine them to generate ideas.

Here’s a real example of a company we helped name that provides nursing home care to aging populations. The lists generated looked something like this:

Nursing Home (noun)

Home
Facility
Safe Place
Dwelling
Nest
Harbor
Abode
Alcove
Cocoon
Grove
Dwelling
Oasis
Sanctuary

Care (verb)

Comfort
Empathy
Wellness
Health
Hospitality
Empathy
Dignity
Thriving
Empowerment
Flourish
Hope
Love
Relief

As we combined words like Wellness and Alcove, we eventually landed on Welcov, which had links back to the original problem, but in a creative, new way.

Try this brainstorming activity next time you have a problem. You’ll be surprised at the power behind smart word combinations.

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