MAM

Lost in Translation: Corporate Branding

Is your corporate image sending messages of love, hate, profanity or sobriety? No matter how and where you travel, with or without your products or your corporate image, the chances are that a lot of your marketing messages are getting lost in translation as they make their way around the globe.

Business names are being hit the hardest as the world becomes smaller and companies go global. Each one of us is now spinning in a mix of international alphabet soup of strange names and terminologies. You invent something new, send out a release, the media talks about it and, within seconds, it becomes an international item. Your business name image might end up as a great universal message or emulate some strange and confusing messages with insults or profanity. But why?

A Trunk Call to Britannia

Like it or not, from the Greeks to the Koreans or from the quiet Zen masters to the chanting Buddhists, all will try to figure out the meaning of your great message and the name of your new gizmo as you push for an international audience.

Thanks to several historical factors, including colonisation, the largest global population is increasingly tied to a string of 26 alpha characters in English. Today, even in the oldest and remotest jungles, some form of English is spoken. Thank you Britannia, we are amused. For that and for many other reasons, English-based naming has been the norm for corporate business nomenclature, because, it always has provided some measure of sobriety and universal understanding.

It is true that the other half of the global populace is still non-English speakers, but the process of corporate naming can seriously risk the future of a company by picking an exotic non-English word as a corporate name to gain quick attention or to cure a lingering corporate image problem.

Emotional Break-Dance

For example, a press release announcing a new company, KumangaTeq, would struggle to explain the meaning of the name in the first paragraph. "Kuman" means "mighty leader" in Serbio-Latin? and "manga" means "a very sweet mango with firm body" in Sanskrit?. "Therefore," the press release might say, "this fits our very unique branding tagline -- curved for power and technology -- and it matches our curvy logo design."

At times, this holistic, homeopathically driven and overly emotional strategy is like going from the frying pan into the fire. Talk about an emotional break-dance. KumangaTeq would be a good name if its customers were all located in northern Calcutta around some Sanskrit temples, or in Croatia where there are still a few villages with traces of Serbian-Latin dialects. In Delhi, Karachi or Manhattan, and in most major cities around the world, KumangaTeq would be considered not so sweet, at best.

Business Naming Trajectory

This type of naming problem is repeated just about every day around the globe. Of the hundreds of new names of various businesses -- including product and service announcements -- many strange names emerge every single day. True, such names fade away after the initial funding stops the branding fireworks.

They then go out deeper into other jungles, searching for new words, hoping to combine those words with other marketing pushes. During the last few years, thousands of such foreign corporate names were adopted with the weirdest stories of their cute origins. Surly this corporate branding technique will eventually exhaust itself. Now you know why corporations change their names so many times.

The false rumor that all names in English are gone is just a branding cop-out. There are millions of great English language names available with global trademark potential, but what is missing is the knowledge to develop them as clear global corporate name identities. Focus groups and randomly pooled exotic name lists is not the way.

No Mai Mai

"Nay" is yes to Greeks. The American "yeah" means "no" to the Japanese. To the British, long distance is a "trunk," sister a "nurse" and elevator a "lift." A simple laugh -- "ha, ha, ha" -- means "mother" in Japanese, while "Ohio" means good morning. In Russia, "looks" means "opinion" and "socks" means "juice." In France, a simple sign of "sale" means "dirty." The Chinese word "mai" said in a certain style means to "buy" and in another style to "sell." When enunciated together, "mai mai" means "business."

To appreciate this issue further, I should point out that despite the seeming dominance of English, there are some 2,700 different languages with 8,000 dialects around the world. Altogether, there are 12 important language families with 50 lesser ones. Indo-European is the largest family in which English is the most important category.

Based on usage by population, the following is a list of major languages in descending order: Chinese, English, Hindustani, Russian, Spanish, Indonesian, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Bengali, Mali and Italian.

The globalisation of e-commerce and the use of digital branding for domain names point to a serious need for special sets of skills when it comes to corporate name branding.

We all better be wary of language issues. After all, the customers are no longer just on our streets, they are now all over the globe. Better learn to name correctly or pick up Chinese so at least you can properly enunciate "no mai mai" -- meaning there is no more business left.

Naseem Javed author Naming for Power and also Domain Wars, recognized as world authority on global Name Identities and Domain Issues, introduced The Laws of Corporate Naming in the eighties and also founded ABC Namebank, a consultancy he established in New York & Toronto a quarter century ago. Naseem conducts exclusive executive workshops on global naming issues and cyber-branding, via web conferences ...www.abcnamebank.com

Latest Reads

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/03/22/Ministry_Ayush-ASCI.jpg?itok=pyr8Xpnq
Over 250 complaints of misleading ads about AYUSH products since Jan 2015

NEW DELHI: The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) referred 263 complaints of allegedly AYUSH products related advertisements to the Consumer Affairs Ministry since January 2015, including seven advertisements of herbal medicines in 2016.

MAM Media and Advertising Media Agencies
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/03/22/Woodland-800x800_0.jpg?itok=v8zCy5jP
Season 2 of Woodland's #AgainstAllOdds digital campaign returns

Mumbai: The second season Footwear and apparel and apparel accessories brand Woodland’s #AgainstAllOdds digital campaign is back with highlighting the stories of people who are pursuing offbeat adventure sports in spite of severe obstacles.

MAM Marketing Brands
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/03/21/Santoor-Femina_1.jpg?itok=t-ppxUD8
Manipal girl Ashna Gurav wins the Santoor Femina Style Diva South 2017

Bangalore : The winners of this year’s Santoor Femina Style Diva South were declared at a glittering ceremony attended by who’s who of the Hindi and Kannada film industry. The evening witnessed 14 gorgeous girls take over the stage at the 5th edition of Santoor Femina Style Diva South 2017 powered...

MAM Marketing MAM
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/03/21/BARC_0.jpg?itok=qmHu_GyY
Four brands enter the most advertised brands list in week 10 of 2017

BENGALURU: Four brands entered the list of top 10 brands in terms of television ad insertions for week 10 (Saturday, 4 March 2017 to Friday, 10 March 2017) of 2017. The new brands to enter the list of most the 10 advertised brands per week on television in week 10 were: One brand from the phone/...

MAM Marketing Brands
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/03/21/Jio-Airtel.jpg?itok=AC2HS5x9
Jio takes Airtel to ASCI over network speed ad

NEW DELHI: The telecom war between Reliance Jio and other telecom service providers took a new turn when a complaint was lodged with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) against broadband tester Ookla's network speed test that said Bharti Airtel has the fastest network speed.

MAM Marketing MAM
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/03/20/anita%20%281%29.jpg?itok=X4tBD_IG
Kohler retains Havas Media for integrated media business

Kohler has retained Havas Media as its media agency for integrated media business following a multi-agency pitch.

MAM Media and Advertising Account
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/03/20/denstu%20%281%29.jpg?itok=iCRK0sA4
Dentsu Webchutney appoints Anil Kumar as EVP

Dentsu Webchutney has roped in Anil Kumar as EVP and branch head. He will be based out of Delhi and will report to Dentsu Webchutney CEO and co-founder Sidharth Rao. Kumar will lead key accounts like Airtel, IndusInd Bank, Canon, Tetra Pack, Hike, Payback, DS Group and ITC amongst others.

MAM Media and Advertising People
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/03/20/Mulshi%20Springs.jpg?itok=XmKDxYkx
Mulshi Springs all over GCC through Masafi

MUMBAI: Masafi, the beverage giant of the Middle-East Asia, has signed a deal with Mulshi Natural Spring Water to distribute the luxury brand in the entire GCC region.

MAM Marketing Brands
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/03/20/Schneider_0.jpg?itok=M0THcl_M
G.M Pens a new-age design for Schneider

MUMBAI: G.M Pens International Pvt. Ltd., the pioneer in writing instruments, manufacturer and marketer of ‘Rorito’, announced its strategic technological association with world-class expert, Schneider Schreibgeräte GmbH (Germany), for their new-age Product Design & Development. To mark the...

MAM Marketing Brands

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories