the product naming blog

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July 5, 2006

Is it Smart to Use Foreign Words When Naming or Branding?

homosoap.jpgThanks to Lee Hopkins of Better Communication Results for reminding us of both the humor and the potential for disaster when using foreign words to name products or brands.

Some time back on this blog I discussed the phenomenon of "," in which Koreans (mis)use English for slogans and brand names.

The Japanese version, “Engrish,” has a long and hilarious history, chronicled at by a dedicated webmaster who lived and worked in Japan for several years.

myfannie.jpgTo be fair to the creators of the products displayed at the website, most are not meant for export, so there’s nothing particularly funny or embarrassing to the people buying them. As long as they’re kept out of the hands of English speakers, there’s no problem.

But such products as “Homo Soap,” “My Fannie” toilet paper and a few others I prefer not to mention but can be found here, remain an important reminder to check on the meaning of any cool-sounding foreign words before using them in public, never mind using them for naming a company, product or brand.

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Posted by William Lozito at July 5, 2006 7:00 AM
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While living in Santiago, Chile I saw a cigarette brand called "Life." Ironic? To me yes, but I guess the Spanish speaking populous didn't understand the English meaning -- similar to the examples you describe.


Thank you for sharing another naming example.

It's much appreciated.

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