Laurel Sutton

Once upon a time, I co-founded Catchword, one of the world’s leading naming firms. While there I worked with clients like Cisco, Allstate, Plantronics, and Corning; responding to working out the intricate challenges of naming architectures and strategies. Since stepping down as a Catchword partner, I’m now focusing on linguistic analysis (my first love), along with expert witness services (believe it or not, I love that too), marketing strategy (gotta love it) and personal mentoring for brand professionals (what’s not to love?). Because, really, what is a brand without solid linguistic foundation, a smart marketing strategy to support it, and well-trained branding professionals to execute those strategies?

Though born and raised in New Jersey, I speak excellent English, due to my double major in English and Linguistics at Douglass College/Rutgers University. I followed Route 80 to California so I could earn my M.A. in Linguistics from U.C. Berkeley.

When I’m not partnering with clients, I’m usually blogging or speaking about names, brands, and language use. In 2016 I was honored to be chosen as part of the first-ever Verbal Identity Jury for the LIA Awards.

I’m active in the following associations:

Professional publications


2016: “Aliens Are Just Like Us: Personal Names in The Legion of Super-Heroes”. Names Vol 64(2).

2013: “Coca-Cola, Chek Cola, or Rally Cola?: A Comparison of Famous Name  Brand Sodas and Their Private Label Imitators”. In Onomastics in Contemporary Public Space, ed. by Oliviu Felecan and Alina Bugheşiu. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 374-390.

2008: “It takes a village: Global brand name development for Kijiji”. Onoma Vol 43. 299-310.

1996: “Cocktails and Thumbtacks in the Old West: What Would Emily Post Say?” In Wired_Women: Gender and New Realities in Cyberspace, ed. by Lynn Cherny and Elizabeth Reba Weise. Seattle: Seal Press. 169-87

1995: “Bitches and Skankly Hobags: The Place of Women in Contemporary Slang”. In Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self, ed. by Kira Hall and Mary Bucholtz. New York: Routledge. 279-296.

1995: “Incommunicada (Parts 1 and 2)”. In Interactive Update Vol 7:10-11. Published by Alexander & Associates.

1994: “Using USENET: Gender, Power, and Silence in Electronic Discourse”. In Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, ed. by Susanne Gahl, Andrew Dolbey, and Christopher Johnson. Berkeley: Berkeley Linguistics Society. 506-520.

1992: “Bitches and Skankly Hobags: The Place of Women in Contemporary Slang”. In Locating Power: Proceedings of the Second Berkeley Women and Language Conference, ed. by Kira Hall, Mary Bucholtz, and Birch Moonwoman. Berkeley: Berkeley Women and Language Group. 560-572.

Collections (edited)

2017: Context Counts: Papers on Language, Gender, and Power by Robin Lakoff. Ed. by Laurel A. Sutton. London and New York: Oxford University Press (expected publication February 2017).

1999: Reinventing Identities: The Gendered Self in Discourse. Ed. by Mary Bucholtz. A. C. Liang. and Laurel Sutton. London and New York: Oxford University Press.

1994: Cultural Performances: Proceedings of the Third Berkeley Women and Language Conference. Ed. by Mary Bucholtz, A.C. Liang, Laurel A. Sutton, and Caitlin Hines. Berkeley: Berkeley Women and Language Group.

1993: Working Papers in Linguistics, Volume 1: Irish. Graduate Students in Field Methods 1992-93. Ed. by Laurel Sutton. Berkeley: U.C. Berkeley Phonology Lab.

1991: Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. Ed. by Laurel Sutton and Christopher Johnson, with Ruth Shields. Berkeley: Berkeley Linguistics Society.

1990: Proceedings of the Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. Ed. by Kira Hall, Jean Pierre Koenig, Michael Meacham, Sondra Reinman, and Laurel Sutton. Berkeley: Berkeley Linguistics Society.


2017: American Name Society. “Creating brand names for fun and profit”. Special panel on Onomastics Outside Academia.

2016: American Name Society. “Aliens are just like us: Personal names in The Legion of Super-Heroes”

2015: American Name Society. “Dr Pepper, Dr. Skipper, and Dr. Bob: The rise of private label soda brands”

2012: 37th Annual Intellectual Property Institute (The State Bar of California Intellectual Property Law Section). “Shake hands with naming”

2009: American Name Society. “Green is the new black.”

2006: American Name Society. “Myth and reality of famous brands: How marketing makes a name brand” (with Barry Cowan)

2005: American Name Society. “Cheddar is from Cheddar, except when it is not: Renaming geographical indicators”

1995: Conference on Computer-Mediated Discourse, Georgetown University. “A Gricean Analysis of Netiquette Rules”

1994: Berkeley Linguistics Society, UC Berkeley. “Using USENET: Gender, Power, and Silence in Electronic Discourse”

1994: Linguistic Society of America, Boston, MA. “‘Secondary Articulations’ in Irish”

1993: COSWL Conference on the Language-Gender Interface, Columbus, Ohio . “Using the Net: Gender, Power, & Silencing in Electronic Discourse”

1992: Second Berkeley Women and Language Conference, UC Berkeley. “Bitches and Skankly Hobags: The Place of Women in Contemporary Slang”