Prevent ambiguous meanings

You’ll never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression

The importance of names and slogans is often underestimated. Most entrepreneurs focus on building a great product. However, the first impression you generate won’t come from the product itself, but from its name, slogan and logo. This is what people notice first, and this is what will either entice them to discover more about your product… or put them off from the very start – and into the hands of competitors. That’s why your product or business name needs to be just right.


We’re living in a global world

Finding the right brand or product name is always tricky. The name you come up with is likely to be based on your mother tongue and your culture. However, something that sounds dynamic and powerful in one language can sound boring, funny or even rude in another.

This won’t be immediately obvious when you’re building your brand in your home country. But when it comes to expanding into other markets, this factor has the potential to destroy all the effort you’ve invested into brand building. As a startup, you cannot foresee where the future will take you. But if there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that a successful idea can, and will, spread across borders. Ensuring your brand will be understood and liked globally is paramount.


Insults don’t sell

Consumers don’t often see ambiguity in advertising. This isn’t because these ‘double entendres’ are a rare phenomenon. It is because the companies involved usually go out of business faster than light, their advertising campaigns never making it to widespread media coverage.

We all smile when we notice a blooper from a company that should know better. Consider this classic:

In 1971 the Ford Motor Company branded a new car “Pinto”. Ford was obviously thinking about horses and seeking proximity to the existing and popular brand “Mustang”. Unfortunately, sales in South America have been terrible, as “pinto” there is slang for ‘small male genitals’.

Funny. But let’s take a moment and think it over: being unable to sell one of their models in South America might have been a costly but in no way an existential issue for Ford. They were already a large, established corporation. For a small, new company, however, there might not be a second chance.


Be on the safe side

You might be wondering why these people never consulted a dictionary. After all, it can’t be too difficult to check the meaning of a name. Well actually, it is:


  1. Dictionaries usually exclude offensive words.
  2. Ambiguous words often also have a totally innocent meaning, and it’s only this meaning that makes it into the dictionary.
  3. Ambiguity is often created by the sound of the word, not its spelling. The Chinese number 8 sounds like the word for wealth and is, hence, incredibly popular, whilst the number 4 sounds like death and would bring any sales to zero.

The last thing you want your brand name to do is offend potential customers. So the first thing you should do is ensure your names and slogans contain no ambiguity. Fortunately, this is exactly what we can do for you.

Our team of friendly experts can check your business name in over 20 languages. The most popular languages we are requested to check are Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, French, and German. From as little as €195 per language, a native speaker will summarise what your company name means, what assumptions it triggers out of context, and what connotations it evokes when used in the business and context of your industry.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and one of our friendly team will happily answer your query.

Order your language check today for only €75 per language – just fill in the form below to get started!