August 15, 2006
Brand Naming: Is Kia's New Cee'd Relinquishing Control?
Kia is correct that “cee’d” is an unconventional and innovative brand name for a car. The lower-case “c” and the apostrophe make it seem more like a Web 2.0 company name.
The first half of the name, CE, is meant to represent the European Community, while the ED stands for “European Design.” That makes the name an acronym, and if the car were a government agency, the name would be spelled in all upper-case, rather than all lower-case, letters. (When government agencies start to have trendy, alternate-spelling names, we should worry.)
By the way, the abbreviation CE, or EC, has been replaced by EU, or UE, depending on one's language. That aside, only 6 of 25 member states (France, Spain, Portugal, Malta, Italy, Poland) would reverse the acronym order. I think Kia would be better off referring to "cee'd" as an alternative form of "seed". The other explanations for the name feel like marketing hyperbole.
The apostrophe in “cee’d” is superfluous, as it is not replacing a missing letter. (Even Web 2.0 companies normally use apostrophes in the traditional manner, though the same can’t be said of full stops in brand names.
It would be more logical to insert it in the middle of the word, which would indicate a distinction between where the car is manufactured and where it was designed. Put the apostrophe at the front of the word, and it could indicate that the name is short for “exceed.”
The apostrophe is not the real problem, however. In choosing this new brand name, Kia had in mind the word “seed,” with all the appropriate indications of growth. But “cee’d” runs afoul of another homophone: “cede,” meaning “to relinquish control; to yield.”
I think that’s the last thing any competitive company wants to do, and the last thing most drivers want to do when they’re on the road.
Check out the post about the Kia Cee'd at Leftlane News for some more insights and some great reader comments on the name. David Leggett, at just-auto.com, shares our concerns over the redundant apostrophe.
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