Does a Product With Any Other Name Sound as Sweet?

Category: Language, Translation Services

Your brand, product and/or service names are vital to your business and, more than likely, you spent a lot of time and energy on finding the perfect name — in English. But what about when you take that name to new language markets? Do you need a new name altogether or do you need to modify it? If you translate the name, does it sound as good or as “sweet” as the original?

As we discussed in our Q4 newsletter article, there are a few concepts and tips around naming that can really help you when taking your brand, product or service global. 

What’s in a Name?

Things like phonetics, morphology, semantics, cultural context, writing systems and market “noise” all come into play when evaluating the suitability of a product name for an international market. Here are some examples of how they might influence your product name’s reception in a global market:

Phonetics is the study and classification of speech sounds. The same sounds can mean different things in different languages — the meaning you associate with the sound of your product name might not be the same meaning it evokes for speakers of other languages. Kraft, for example, launched an international snack food brand called “Mondelez International”. As it turns out, the sound of “mohn-dah-LEEZ” is very similar to a Russian slang term for a sexual act. So make sure your name sounds right to the target listener.

Semantics also matter when it comes to names. Just as the same sound can mean different things in other languages, so can the same word. If you want to use an English brand or product name in an international market, make sure the word doesn’t mean something else in that language. Puff’s tissue, for example, discovered that its brand name meant “whorehouse” in German.

Cultural context can influence the associations people might have with your product name. In China, for example, the number 4 is considered unlucky, so including it in your product name probably isn’t a good idea.

For tips on what to include in your strategy for your global naming project, read the full article. Working with a translation and localization agency on your global naming project can help you avoid naming pitfalls like those above. Contact us today to find out more.