8.05.2014

Branders and Trademarks, If You Assume...

When it comes to branding and trademarks, if you assume, you can make an "ass" out of "u" and "me," goes the saying.  And in many ways it's true as Mark Prus points out in Duets BlogHe offers some tips on how to make sure your logo, brand or company doesn't end up offending other cultures, inadvertently. 

And speaking of "asses..."
Sometimes the potential for offending your target customer is obvious. For example, Assitalia is one of the biggest insurance companies in Italy. I am sure the company developed its name without thinking about international considerations and in Italy the name is fine. But if they ever wanted to expand to an English speaking country…well, let’s just say there might be a problem.
This is a real company, folks. Not a joke.
But sometimes the potential for offending your customer is less obvious. Most of the large companies I work with agree to conduct foreign language checks to ensure that the names have no problematic connotations in the major foreign languages.
However, this is not only recommended for companies doing overseas business.
Even if you have no plans to sell your product internationally, you need to beware of potential unintended consequences of your actions. 
For example, people of Hispanic or Latino origin in the US represent over 17% of the population. What if you unintentionally chose a name that had a bad (but not obvious) connotation in the Spanish language? Would you like to offend over 17% of your potential market? 
It is relatively easy to investigate potential unintended language consequences. There are linguistic companies or freelancers who will do this work for a reasonable fee. You can also try to do it yourself if you know different native language speakers. Just ask them questions like: 
• How is this word pronounced by a native speaker of your language?
• Is this word similar in sound or appearance to other words in your language? If so, what do those words mean? 
 • Are there any inappropriate associations with this word? Is this word similar to any slang terms of the language? 
Finally, if you want to check to see if a common word is being used as slang for something else in the English language you can always check the Urban Dictionary.  
It's commonly advised that the "buyer beware," but in today's global economy, let's add "brander beware." 
 

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