For what is in a name? Global branding – is it possible?

Branding and naming is something I have been pondering on some time now. Let it be known that I am far from a brand specialist myself. I’m more of the branding school “stick to your guns and reuse what’s there.” But what got me thinking was a small text in today’s newspaper (Dagens Nyheter) relating that a Bollywood film had been stopped by Apple Store because the film’s Indian name meant something else in English.

But how often does an English speaking branding specialist bother about a non-English speaking audience? I admit that one can’t take too many concerns into account because nothing would ever get done. Still I ask myself how do “they” think?

Take for instance Google Play. Exactly how professional does that sound? It took me some time to go there because I’m not particularly interested in playing games on my mobile. Turned out it was Google’s app’s repository. Am I just a grumpy user that expects a certain level of usability also from naming?

My favourite pet peeve is “Kindle.” Why a book store want to name a product after something that only makes you think of latter times book burning in the style of Hitler and Stalin has always puzzled me. Yes, someone did explain the thinking behind the name, but tell me, if a name has to be explained – hasn’t the branding failed?

The basic question is, with an ever larger internationalisation and user groups which haven’t got English a mother tongue – how will that affect branding? Will brands get blander in order to achieve a lowest common denominator? I personally think so, and that will be sad because a brand can and should tell a cultural story and not doing so will make us all loose and become poorer as society.

But is there a way around this development of ever blander brands? Is it possible to build an international brand that at the same time stands out while is appealing to a cultural diverse global audience?


One response to “For what is in a name? Global branding – is it possible?

  1. I think you raise a valid point and I can remember from my undergrad days the story of the Cheverolet ”NOVA”, which in Spanish apparently translated to ”does not go”. However I think that brands that are affiliated more with grammatically ”proper” words or names may be more enticing or words that don’t translate at all. Examples such as Toyota, Hilton, Marriott, Monsanto, Pfizer are all family names that have morphed into brands. Or nondescriptives such as Exxon or Google which really don’t
    translate into anything will likely be more successful and opens up opportunities from marketing and branding specialists to be more creative in their role in brand creation and development.



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