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April 2, 2008

Al Ries is Wrong About the Isuzu Brand Name

Isuzu_logo.pngAl Ries wrote an interesting article about the demise of Isuzu. He says that one of the chief reasons that the brand died was because “it had a terrible name.”

Those of us who speak English prefer words or brand names that are perfectly balanced by vowel-consonant-vowel or consonant-vowel-consonant. We find these words and brand names easy to pronounce. Think Coca-Cola, Kodak, and Toyota.

Also think Isuzu. A great example of a brand name balanced by vowel-consonant-vowel.

Other Japanese auto brands are successful in the United States and are similar to Isuzu Brand.

    suzuki_logo.png
  • Subaru is pronounced similarly to Isuzu and the former has carved out a nice niche business in the U.S.

  • And the Suzuki brand name is no easier or more difficult to pronounce than Isuzu and, as we know, Suzuki is successful in the U.S. with both motorcycles and autos.

Although I have the utmost respect for Mr. Ries, I have to respectfully disagree with him on this one.

If Isuzu failed in the U.S. it had as much to do with "terrible" marketing, or product mix, or timing.
hyundai.png
How is the auto brand name Hyundai, which can be pronounced as either "Hun-day" or "Hun-die," (the former being the correct pronunciation) establishing itself as a brand to contend with in the U.S.?

It's not because of a "terrible" car brand name; it's because, I think, when Hyundai was introduced in the U.S. with its tagline, "Hyundai rhymes with Sunday," it educated U.S. consumers on how to pronounce the name.

Hyundai made a positive out of its brand name being pronounceable multiple ways, not unlike, Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) made a positive out of the unusual shape of the Volkswagen.

Sorry Al, Isuzu didn't fail in the U.S. because of its name, it failed for other reasons. Many other reasons.

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Posted by William Lozito at April 2, 2008 8:00 AM
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