``We experience the world through a cultural lens, never objectively. Branding works by adjusting that lens to frame not only how customers value the product but also how they experience it." Douglas B. Holt, Marketing, Harvard Business School
"There have been promising preliminary results in clinical trials of one such agent, which has now been given the unpronounceable name ruprintrivir. (Manufacturers like to give drugs unpronounceable generic names because then the only thing you'll remember is whatever brand name they eventually choose.") New Yorker, 3/11/2002, pg. 46. [Emphasis mine, HFS.]For examples of this kind of product naming, see:
And just for good measure, see this article, on branding of stocks and the effect of certain names on perceived value of the stock.
Americans aren't the only people who like foreign brands; the Japanese have many `foreign' brands that to us might be nonsensical, such as a soft-drink called Calpis (sic). (To say nothing of the delicious 'Pocari Sweat'.) In France once I saw someone wearing a jacket labeled (nonsensically):
On the point
the world produce
--produce by persons.
In the US, different kinds of 'foreignness' are associated with different kinds of products. Foreign-branding of an indiscriminate kind is not found; Rather, certain kinds of foreignness are associated with desirability in various products.
But not to be outdone, now even Napa Valley wineries in California are trying to protect their brands by using the same approach.
Our philosophy is that a great name is a "vessel" that allows you to tell a story, deliver an idea, or make a promise. A great name uses semantics, sound symbolics, and phonetics to deliver a message and a personality--in less than a second.
The other company, keenbranding.com, claims to create 'identity' for products. They advertise jobs for linguists to help with this.
The French language and French-ness is clearly associated with a number of notions, and as a foreign-branding technique, is closely associated with food, wine, certain alcoholic beverages, clothing, especially women's clothing (style, couture, esp. high quality), perfume, sexuality, sexual desirability, sophistication, and various combinations of these. Giving something a French brand may be done irrespective of the actual authenticity of the name. The name itself may be unheard of in France, or the brand may be ungrammatical or nonsensical in French, but it doesn't matter, because the market audience for these is Americans and other foreigners, who aren't picky about such things.
Look at some of these examples of this.
"Italian" is associated with food (but not the same kind of food as French food!), with coffee, with high-fashion men's clothing and accessories , and with fancy, expensive cars. Italian branding is usually more authentic than French branding; the names aren't faked as often as with French names and brands (e.g. Esprit, Façonnable, etc.) (although Hospitaliano is certainly a made-up term.) Italianness is also associated with pure, unadultered sexuality/sexiness, as exemplified by this ad for "Baci", which means 'kisses' in Italian. The woman is not wearing much; she is offering kisses (both of the candy sort and other kinds.) She tells us that Baci are Italy's most delicious and romantic chocolates.
Here's a Doonesbury cartoon that makes fun of all the Italian terms for various kinds of fancy types of coffee.
In the food line, here's an ad for pizza that makes fun of the Italian (gangster?) pronunciation of English, especially the pronunciation of 'th' sounds as [d], and of the schwa following 'th' as [a], i.e. [da]. Also 'free dalivery.'
See also this article from the New York Times about Italians' tendency to stereotype themselves about sex and sexuality.
Here's a combination of sexiness and food, an ad for an upscale (Not Olive Garden!) Philadelphia Italian Restaurant ( Pompeii. ) Do we need to know what this woman is saying?
Here's another send-up of Italian naming, especially (what else?) pasta.
One interesting development in this area is the combination of Swiss-French watch manufacturing with Italian (or other language) brand names. Almost all watch manufacturers want you to think they are made in Switzerland (with the words Swiss made or Swiss Movement or Fabrication Suisse somewhere in the ad) but to get away from the perception that Switzerland is stodgy the product may carry an Italian (sic!) brand-name, especially if the watch in question is very high-tech in design (or even if not).
Just for contrast, here's an article about American car-naming practices as seen in some new "dumb" GM names.
The use of German in advertising may sometimes actually use German words in the ad, such as Fahrvergnügen ('the pleasure of driving') used in a Volkswagen ad some time ago. (But now if you do a word-search for this term, you find it has been appropriated by skateboarders, who use it to refer to some of the kinds of wild things they do on their skateboards, and even provide photographs of themselves skating off the roofs of houses, etc.) German language and brands are otherwise not used elsewhere, e.g. for food, clothing, sexuality etc., but here's an ad campaign for the Lexus RX 330, which uses fake German!
Another usage is this same preposition, ueber used in an ad for style, 'chicness'.
Japanese, Chinese, other languages and non-roman scripts?
Or, a faked Chinese restaurant name is created with a fancy umlaut over the "y" for exotic effects. In actuality, no Chinese transliteration scheme (PinYin, Wade-Giles) ever puts umlauts on consonants; maybe on vowels, e.g. ü , but not like this. But then this is just Chinese fused Asian cookery...
And here's a cartoon that makes fun of the supposedly foreign by referring to 'Hoax' Ethnic Food. Notice how many of the 'hoax foreign' foods have umlauts and/or other kinds of accent marks--a true sign of foreignness! (Notice also that the vender in the cartoon has a bushy moustache--clearly a foreigner.)
Ünited Stätes Toughens Image With Umlauts. WASHINGTON, DC.The conclusion, apparently, is that umlauts over vowels, being associated with German, contributes an impression of 'toughness' (since we know how tough and disciplined those Germans can be, nicht wahr?)
In a move designed to make the United States seem more "bad-assed and scary in a quasi-heavy-metal manner," Congress passed a bill Monday changing the nation's name to the Ünited Stätes of Ämerica. "Much like Mötley Crüe and Motörhead, the Ünited Stätes is not to be messed with," said Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). An upcoming redesign of the Ämerican flag will feature the new name in burnished silver wrought in a jagged, gothic font and bolted to a black background. A new national anthem is also in the works, to be written by composer Glenn Danzig and tentatively titled "Howl Of The She-Demon."
Another possibility is to create a totally fake language (or try to create the impression that there is some language out there with these forms). This seems to be particularly common with names of ice creams and/or (frozen) yogurt; the trick is to use umlauted vowels as freely as possible, even where no known language so uses them:
Contrast this with the ad for Belvedere Vodka also a Polish vodka, which hides this fact almost completely, except for the tiny notation na zdrowie ("To your health") under the bottle. Otherwise, the ad suggests solidity, hand-crafting, continuity, doing things the same way as one's father, etc.)
firstname.lastname@example.org, last modified 8/31/07