When will New Dogs Learn the Old Tricks?

audi e-tron negative brand nameAnother car brand makes a linguistic faux pas? It seems too extraordinary to be true, and yet Audi has just released its newest electric car called “e-tron.” Inconveniently, étron means “excrement” in French.

Whether or not Chevy’s car name “No Va” was really what led to its abysmal sales in both Mexico and Spain, it’s easy to argue that a name, literally translated, that means “no go” is a no-no for a car. Now Audi is dishing us up “excrement?”

Doing due diligence before running with a name in international markets seems like a no-brainer to me. Maybe it’s the fact that I do international trademark screenings on a regular basis that makes this point particularly salient, but it just seems too obvious that names with negative translations should be properly vetted before appearing on an international stage.

That being said, what about unbranded names, or names that try to be too novel or ironic? Take the latest release of Urban Outfitters jeans, for example. They’re literally called “Unbranded” denim. The irony behind this approach is that a lack of a brand name by default defines the brand. The lack of a logo, label, embroidery, or celebrity endorsement speaks to the rise of this brand’s target market: the modern-day beatnik, or more popularly known “hipster.” So, by allegedly targeting no one, this brand actually targets its largest consumer base – those people who shun conformity and yet unknowingly embrace it, hipsters.

So, too explicit of a name can be negative and a name that is not explicit enough can be confusing. What’s the Goldilocks (or “just right”) mentality to brand naming?

A post in the New York Times written by University of Texas Economics Professor Dan Hamermesh answers this. He comments that despite the determinants of demand that every student learns in ECON 101 (price sensitivity, personal income, and general preferences) he factors in an additional determinant he calls “the cuteness of the product’s name.” This is a man who purchased a Soy Vay® hoisin garlic glaze and a six-pack of Arrogant Bastard® ale based on the appeal of the products’ names alone.

Granted, not everyone can go out and buy a $150,000 car (price tag of Audi’s e-tron) just based on the appeal of its name. That being said, a good name can go a long way towards winning the hearts (and wallets) of a target market. Why alienate your consumers with your brand name when you can leverage it to win them over? This seems like a fairly simple mistake to avoid that some modern-day companies insist on repeating.

2 Comment(s)

  1. the real deal

    eric | Jul 13, 2011 | Reply

  2. So glad you liked it!

    admin | Sep 7, 2011 | Reply

Post a Comment

  • HealthYes!

    Video Testimonial - Part 1 | 2

  • Snapio

    Video Testimonial - Part 1 | 2

  • Raving Fans

  • Thanks so much for all your expert advice and professional project management throughout this endeavor. This has been one of the most satisfying engagements with a vendor that I have experienced over the years, which speaks to the high quality and thoughtful output of your efforts. I especially appreciated your flexibility and patience as the project took on new challenges which impacted the scope of work. You can be certain that as our business grows, NameStormers will be top-of-mind for future work.
    Will Jarred - Executive Director of Sales & Marketing - ETS - Educational Testing Service
  • ________________

  • I must underscore what an absolute pleasure it was to work with you during this entire project. Your methodical, timely, and resourceful approach to educating me on how a new name affects a company, and the steps you so painstaking address to make the transition a seamless one, were outstanding. Each time I needed to contact you to get direction or clarification, you responded with immediate and informative action. You are the consummate professional and a real pleasure to work with.
    Dorian Stern - Director of Marketing, Logicare
  • ________________

  • Thank you for your excellent work, great customer service, and fast turnaround. I'd be happy to provide references for you. We decided on Alliant as a good tie to the corporate name: Virginia Mason-Group Health Alliance, Inc. And we've got two Alliant Health Plans, Plus which is a point of service plan, and Select for the HMO.
    Paula Heath - Director of Advertising & Sales Promotion - Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound
  • ________________

  • I received your presentation booklet for our new car concept---I looked through it and want to compliment you on an outstanding job. The names you have developed will be terrific starting points for us as we move our project forward. We will not hesitate to use your firm again.
    Mike Suchstand - Vice President, Strategic Development - THORN Americas, Inc.
  • ________________

  • Mike, Thanks for the quick turn around time. I appreciate all you have done to help us with name, logo and tagline. Some great work!
    Rob Greenbaum - Senior Vice President - Marketing - Nationstar, formerly Centex Home Equity
  • ________________

  • Our success with our name change and branding has been phenomenal. I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out. I am ecstatic over it. Our experience in working with NameStormers has been so good let's just call them again and let them handle this next project for us.
    Bill Macey - CEO of Valtera, formerly Personnel Research Associates
  • ________________

  • I wanted to thank you and the NameStorming team for your great effort in helping me find a name for the company and our first product...starting a new business is quite a sizeable undertaking so knowing a competent team was tending to the name issues was a relief. We love the (company) name. We are also going to use the product name Acquis for a family of internet-and-otherwise commerce software packages. It really was a pleasure working with you. I look forward to NameStorming in the future.
    Tom Dowdell - Senior Software Developer - Intuitive Edge