But before they could do further damage, Coke changed the characters to kekou kele (可口可乐) which now means ‘delicious happiness’. That works much better for them and it has stuck ever since. Imagine if Coke had not noticed the unsavoury translation, the brand may end up having a very different story in the Middle Kingdom.
Another linguistically-related example is the Colgate Wisp. Colgate-Palmolive had spent top dollars when they hire an agency to develop a name for their new line of disposable mini toothbrushes back in 2009. After consulting linguists and experts of their own, they came up with a name which they think fits best with the product. To denote the toothbrushes’ light and dainty features, they came up with the name Colgate ‘Wisp’.
What’s interesting is that the name didn’t come out from a meeting room out of whiteboards and presentations. The Wisp was proposed after the think tanks themselves use the toothbrush in their bathrooms, to feel the toothbrush as how customers would. After realising how light the toothbrush feels, the adjective ‘wispy’ came to mind.
How would this get communicated to the customers then? Why did Colgate-Palmolive get all fussy about this one product’s name? Wisp was a new brand in a new product category. It was important that the brand name describes the product benefits of mini toothbrushes being small and light, and help customers better understand what it can do.
Since there are tonnes of websites online these days, it gets harder and harder to find a brand name that has not been made into a website yet. Want to start a cupcake business? Too bad, there’s probably hundreds of websites with the word ‘cupcake’ already.
What can we do then? This is where creativity has to prevail. Take this chance to develop a name so different in the industry, it can’t help but to stand out. For example, in the scarves business, one brand stands out for bearing a radical name; dUCk. dUCk Scarves, although initiated by an already well-known celebrity, proves to have excellent brand recognition by associating something new (a purple duck) to the scarf world that only they can claim ownership.
Chances of the domain already taken are low if your brand name is unique and new. dUCk Scarves and Happy Bunch, the florist brand mentioned earlier, did just this.