Blog: Why is Linguistic Research Important in Naming?
08 Apr 2019
Liking and Caring, in a World of Brands
Some people find brand naming to be atrocious; others find it really interesting. That’s pretty much something that could be applied to anything in this world – you either like it, or you don’t. But as in everything, there’s a difference between not liking and not caring. I may not like to pay bills, but I care enough about the consequences to do it.
If we apply the same logic in brand naming, we start to understand why it’s important for our business to be cleared from misconceptions or foul language in other countries. In a world that has never been so connected, small things can add up to a detrimental outcome. Would you really launch a global product with the name ROACON if you knew it would read “the king of assholes” in French?
Luckily, we have been expanding our own team of linguists since the ’80s and offering linguistically sound reviews since then. It has grown immensely over the years, and today we cover many languages in the world. This is the absolute essence of our vision; we do not rely on Google Translate or dictionaries. Our linguists are professionals, trained by us to deliver quality reviews. The linguist lives in the country and has up-to-date knowledge about linguistic anomalies and changes that are natural for a language. By being in the country, the person can provide us with cultural knowledge and slangs that are impossible to find in dictionaries.
One of many examples is the difference between Spanish-Spanish, and South American-Spanish (even between SA countries there are big differences). The saying ‘Ya’ as in ‘ok/alright’ is common in Chile; it is used as an informal expression to confirm that something has been understood. In Spain, the very same word is used when you are done talking to someone or a way of expressing ‘it’s time for me to go’. While one is a simple confirmation, the other one is a conversation killer.
We have been saved many times in the last minute by a linguistic review. The beautiful word ‘SMAKA’ (to taste in Swedish) means ‘the stench of rotten meat’ in Latvian. And as I mentioned in the beginning, ROACON isn’t the most desirable name in French. So, while it’s natural to read brand and product names in our native language, we tend to forget how vital it’s for our brand to manage risk when connecting different cultures and languages. Because it’s not about liking this modern shift, but caring about your most long-term marketing tool, the name.
Until next time,
For more info about linguistic research, please visit our services.
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Joachim ter Haar
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