You might wonder – does the brand name really matter? Shouldn’t the product quality, the advertising campaigns do the trick to pull the consumer in?
The answer is – the brand name matters, a lot. Agreed that the product quality is going to help, but it will help retain the customers, not pull them in for a first use/trial. It is the advertising campaigns that create the hooks for the customers.
Now, any advertising campaign will have two messages: one is the carefully worded sentence that the brand gurus want imprinted on the consumer mindspace. the other, perhaps more important one, is the message that is subconsciously registered by the viewer (if at all he registers something). The first one is of course in the marketer’s control, while naming a brand correctly is one of the few ways that the second can be influenced.
Let me take up a recent example which has floated in a lot of my posts recently – that of Suzuki Kizashi. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Kizashi? – Japanese? Korean?. And from these geographical imprints, what is the first quality that props up in your mind? Chances are that the quality would be – superior, advanced technology. Bingo!
This was the exact reason of picking up a Japanese/Korean sounding name for the car. A car is usually reviewed by its technology, and the brand name puts in a subliminal message to the consumer that the car boasts advanced technology even before he has driven it. The positive frame of mind regarding the product is all what you need, in an age where the POD is less and less on the product quality (which is now a universal POP) and more on the brand perception.
A few other examples that I use here to illustrate my point:
1. Louis Philippe, Allen Solly, Van Heusen. – I can bet that if I did a dipstick survey of consumers in India about these brands, a strong majority would say that Louis Philippe might be from France, Allen Solly from England and Van Heusen from Netherlands – all countries from Europe, which represent prosperity and the accompanied class in clothing.
The truth? – Surprise Surprise! – each of the above three brands are of Indian origin, from design to manufacture. They are all owned by Madura Fashion & Lifestyle (earlier Madura Garments) – a reflection of how a brand name affects the consumer mindset.
2. United Breweries – alcohol brands – Kingfisher, McDowells, Romanov : Again, India is not supposed to be the specialist in making beers and whiskeys and vodkas, hence the international names. Which country is known for Vodka? – Russia. Which country does the name Romanov indicate? – Russia. The synergy is complete
There can be many other examples (Indian NGOs named in Hindi such as Prayaas, campaigns with Indian names to achieve a better connect with TG, such as Shakti Amma (HUL) etc. Even the acclaimed Häagen-Dazs brand of ice creams – named to look Scandinavian to Americans !!)
So, a large portion of the brand fortunes can hinge over its name. You better choose carefully!
Language too plays a major role in the naming of brands, especially when working across countries. Take a note below of the following major marketing blunders which erupted due to a lack of thoroughness in taking language into account:
1. Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”
2. Coors put its slogan, “Turn It Loose,” into Spanish where its translation was read as “Suffer From Diarrhea.”
3. Clairol introduced the “Mist Stick”, a curling iron, into German only to find out that “mist” is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the “manure stick.”
4. When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as they did in the U.S., with the beautiful Caucasian baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label of what’s inside, since most people can’t read. Yikes!
5. Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious naughty magazine.
6. An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market which promoted the Pope’s visit. Instead of “I saw the Pope” (el papa), the shirts read “I saw the potato” (la papa).
7. Pepsi’s “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” translated into “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”, in Chinese.
8. The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as “Ke-kou-ke-la”, meaning “Bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax”, depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent “ko-kou-ko-le”, translating into “happiness in the mouth.”
9. When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” Instead, the company thought that the word “embarazar” (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”
10. Frank Perdue’s chicken slogan, “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken” was translated into Spanish as “It takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.”