Disasterous Brand Names

by Harold A. Meyer, III

Brand name and image are incredibly important considerations, especially in commodity products. GM made the mistake of exporting its NOVA brand automobiles to countries in South America, and were perplexed why the car was selling so poorly; it seems the name 'Nova' means "won't go" in Spanish, the native language of the end users. Oops!

PEPSI made a similar mistake in China where its marketing slogan was translated into Chinese as "Makes your ancestors come back from the grave." Needless to say, sales were terrible.

An article in the March 17, 1997 issue of Newsweek named some other disasterous brand names for foreign products:

If you've never seen these products on the shelves of STOP & SHOP(r) , don't be surprised. In an era when companies live and die based upon a few percentage points of market share, these products never even made it out of the gate in America.

The bottom line is that customers buy product based upon image. The average customer only spends a few seconds picking out which products to buy. Known brand names are the easiest sales, because customers have an innate understand of the product. Brand names alone are worth big bucks, such as the Pan Am logo, which was sold as a trademark only for $1.3 million.

If a product is new and doesn't grab their attention, the sale is lost. Worse, if the product mentions some sort of raunchy subject or has a distracting or offensive message, it won't only fail to win significant market share, it will crash. So....name CAREFULLY!

(c) 4/1997 by the author

Harold A. Meyer, III, 34, is Chairman of The Hook Appropriate Technology, a performance based licensing, marketing and new product development company. Meyer is also President of the non-profit group, THE INNOVATORS Guild of Danbury, CT. He can be reached at: The Hook Appropriate Technology, 52 Bank Street, Suite A, New Milford, CT, 06776-2706 USA. VOICE: 800-HOOK-VOX, EMAIL: info@thehooktek.com, WEB: www.thehooktek.com 

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