Naming Faux Pas

Faux Pas

Many companies both in the U.S. and abroad have underestimated the importance of thoroughly investigating language differences when naming a new product, service or company. The resulting mistakes made by the companies are commonly called faux pas - naming mistakes. What follows is a list of common faux pas organized categorically:

Slang Connotations

Slang is part of every language and often changes from region to region. It generally starts small with a subgroup of people and continues to evolve and grow. Since slang is ever evolving and differs based on region and culture, it is easy for companies and products to stumble across unintended slang connotations. For example:

Brand Contradictions

Brand names that contradict the essence of a product or service offering can confuse and deter customers. Marketers should always ensure its name accurately fits its identity after translation. Some contradictions that occurred in product naming are:


Mispronunciation, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is "incorrect or inaccurate pronunciation." A product or company name should be checked with native speakers to ensure pronunciation doesn't affect how it is perceived. Often times the pronunciation may sound similar to other words that are unrelated or inappropriate for a product or service offering. Here are some pronunciation examples that may not have been thoroughly checked before introduction:

Direct Translations

Often times when expanding into new markets, many companies have found that translating their company's or product's name or tagline from one language to another is a difficult task. Languages are complex and don't always have exact equivalents with one another. Therefore, considering a translated name or tagline that is consistent phonetically and semantically in meaning as well as fitting similar cultural connotations may be more appropriate than using a direct translation. Here are some examples that had issues due to direct translations:

Unfortunate Associations

Names can often have unrelated associations that companies are unaware of. It is important to consider other products or services with similar names that exist, or have existed in the past, in order to avoid negative associations. Here are some company and product naming missteps due to previous associations:

Domain Names

After a company name has been created, a common next step is to secure the domain name. However, one must be particularly careful with domain names since spaces and stylized work marks are not utilized. It may lead to some unfortunate misunderstandings if the URL is read incorrectly, for example:

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