THE COMPLEXITIES OF SELECTING A PRODUCT BRAND NAME IN THE 21ST CENTURY

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THE COMPLEXITIES OF SELECTING A PRODUCT BRAND NAME IN THE 21ST CENTURY

 
Juliet once asked Romeo “What’s in a name……What’s in a name, it’s only a name – right? Wrong! All too often, companies, in their efforts to coin that perfect name for their latest product, neglect a number of important issues. Brand holders invest excessive amounts of time and money developing their brands in line with certain values, attributes and qualities, which could all be undone in one foul swoop. In selecting a new product name, a number of “old faithfuls” are always likely to be bandied about: the signs of the zodiac, deserts, wild animals, colours and of course the most exciting alpha-numeric combinations. The naming issue is complicated by the fact that there are more than 2700 languages and 8000 dialects across the world, so it’s no surprise that there are countless cultural and linguistic difficulties to be borne in mind when selecting a product name. Whilst driving the latest Chrysler “Taurus” may well be appealing to the Western world, it would hold little attraction to the Chinese, whose zodiac signs include the rabbit, rat and pig, and who may far rather prefer to drive a Chrysler “Dog”! Language differences also wreak havoc with naming exercises: “Ha ha ha” means mother in Japanese, whilst “socks” means “juice” in Russian. Even something as simple hand gestures could land a brand holder in hot water if used in the wrong country. Be sure not use the thumb and forefinger sign for “okay” in France, as it means worthless, whilst the gesture is positively indecent to Brazilians. Over the years, a number of brand owners have fallen victim to the mistake of failing to check the proposed new name for language and linguistic problems. Perhaps the most notorious of these blunders was GM’s poor sales of its “Nova” in Spanish-speaking countries. What a pity that in Spanish, the words “no-va” mean “won’t go”. The word “mist” in Germany is a reference to manure, so there goes the market for Clairol’s “Mist Stick” and Rolls Royce’s “Silver Mist”. One may not understand the sideways glances from the French when asking for Colgate’s “Cue” toothpaste if you didn’t know that “Cue” was also the name one of their pornographic magazines. Schweppes experienced a similar problem with the tonic water in Italy, which was translated to “Schweppes Toilet Water”. Delicious. So how do you get it right? In drawing up a short list of names, consider current naming trends, linguistic issues and longevity of the name. The strongest names are those that are invented words, as they are unlimited in scope, they mean nothing and are least likely to offend in any language (think XEROX, GOOGLE and KODAK). Then, critically analyse the suitability of the name to the intended positioning of the product in the market place. The next, and critically important step, is to involve the legal experts to establish whether or not the name is actually available for use. All too often companies spend millions on launching a new product only to discover that the name was never available and instead of enjoying the benefits of a strong brand, find themselves forking out even more for legal fees. Finally, the name should be adequately protected through registration as a trade mark, which should clear the way for a successful product launch. A good, strong name spells power for both the brand owner and the product, but beware the name that has not been properly researched and considered, it could spell trouble. Be sure then to call your spade a spade for one by any other name might very well not smell as sweet! Publication Name: Product Brand Name Date: June, 2013

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