Saturday, November 13, 2010

Some brand names don’t translate well (From “Deseret News”) :The Cross-cultural Connector

Many global companies, like Coca-Cola, Nike, Google, Intel and Microsoft, choose to use the same brand name in multiple countries.

This is not possible for every brand, but it can often be an advantage. Think of the degree to which a single brand name simplifies marketing and increases return on advertising investment. By comparison, how much more would one of these companies need to spend to achieve the same results with a different localized brand name in every market?

Proctor and Gamble likely understood the benefits of a single global brand nearly 70 years ago when it considered launching a new soap named “Dreck” in the United States. According to the book New Products Management by Charles Crawford, shortly before the company introduced the soap to U.S. consumers, it discovered “Dreck” sounded like German and Yiddish words for dirt, garbage, body waste and a four-letter expletive that can not be published here. Fortunately, because Proctor and Gamble did its homework, it had time to change the detergent name to “Dreft” and has since sold it successfully in the U.S. and many other countries.

Some products may never have the chance to go completely global because companies have already been branded with names that have embarrassing meanings abroad. For example, an Iranian company named Paxan Corp. currently produces a line of soaps and detergents under the name “Barf.” This word has a positive and clean meaning of “snow” in Iran, but what English speaker would ever choose to use a cleaning product with this brand? Likewise, if the Japanese sports drink “Pocari Sweat” were exported to the United States, how many English speakers would choose to drink “Sweat”?

In Japan, automakers have marketed the Nissan Moco and the Mazda Laputa. Unfortunately, these product brand names would never export well to Spanish-speaking countries where “moco” means booger and “laputa” sounds like a slang word for prostitute. (Read the Whole Story)

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Amadou M. Sall

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