March 30, 2005
An article in Time Magazine by Jeninne Lee-St.John (28th March 05) looks at how companies are finding it a challenge to market to U.S. Hispanics ‘With the U.S. population expected to be 25% Hispanic by 2050, hitting the Hispanic sweet spot isn't just politically correct, it's a business necessity’.
The article looks at how big companies like Citibank, Hershey's and Proctor & Gamble need to understand and get to know their market and after years of simply translating their mainstream English-language into Spanish are now looking into creating products for U.S. Hispanics. For example, Hershey's came up with the ‘Cajeta Elegancita’ candy bar. The Mexican term for caramel flavor made with goat's milk is "cajeta" – so far, so good, but it is also a word for 'female genitalia' in Argentine slang, so not so good!! This highlights but one of the challenges of marketing to so contrasting a group as the 37 million U.S. Latinos.
Alex Pallete of the Hispanic ad agency Vidal Partnership says that “Hispanics in the U.S. "live in two worlds,". Their Latin world is remarkably diverse, which means that advertising must hit common cultural cues and appeal to U.S. Latinos' shared values and experiences—like close-knit families or having loved ones in another country—while reinforcing the brand identities that Hispanics recognize.“
There is an old urban legend about the Chevy Nova flopping in Latin America because the car's name, in Spanish, means "won't go." The lesson of this myth, is to know ‘thine’ target. Here at LingoLAB (with over 10 years of naming experience) we know only too well how important it is to look at creating names that are linguistically and culturally checked. Our team of qualified linguists, have first hand local knowledge of the language and the culture. Any words that are difficult to pronounce, have negative connotations or don't fit well in terms of meaning or association are identified when we 'scorecard' our names. When working with ‘international clients’ our linguistic experts and associates form a key part of the project team to ensure that we create solutions that are powerful but culturally sympathetic.
If you would like to learn more about our naming service, we would love to hear from you.
March 21, 2005
What value are values?
When I was joint creative head and then internal communications manager of Apple International, we had awesome Californian values such as ‘positive social contribution’. They became a meaningless mantra and were also used as criteria for performance.
I remember well a performance review with my French boss when I had been marked down on one of the values. “Do you actually know what ‘empathy’ means, Michel?” “Non.” This blissful ignorance could have cost me thousands of dollars.
This is just one example of how values can misfire. In the majority of companies, they are created in isolation by the management and then presented as faits accomplits to the unsuspecting personnel who are expected to accept them and conform to them – or else.
The values themselves are all too often glib, meaningless or not values at all (a value, according to my book, being a driving principle). In future articles I’ll be ‘sharing with you’ the values of companies who should really know better.
Continuing with my tirade, every time I see values on a company’s website I cringe. Firstly, I believe that they are an internal communications tool. Secondly, publicising your values leaves you vulnerable if you are not seen to be living up to them even in the smallest way.
Declaring your values is nearly as bad as setting out your mission statement. “Our aim is to be the world’s No 1 telecommunications provider.” “So what? When are you going to repair my telephone line?”.
In my experience, the most effective and credible values have been those that have been created by the people for the people.
But why does a company have to create an array of values? Why not have a single one that everyone can buy into and reflect in everything they do, say, design and write? More about this in future articles.
Here’s hoping that you’ve found this to be of some value…
© 2005 Johnny Bruce is a seasoned copywriter (www.adverb.co.uk) and a LingoLAB associate.
March 18, 2005
What's a good idea worth?
Most communication agencies say their job is to understand and express ‘the’ brand, but do clients really want to buy ideas anymore? Are ideas still valuable?
What's a good idea worth, if it can't be realized?
Most communication agencies say their job is to understand and express ‘the’ brand. Their websites purport to develop strategic and creative communication ideas. But do clients really want to buy ideas anymore? Are ideas still valuable?
People are sick of fluff. We want real things. We want tangibleness, things we can touch, items to hold, products to devour. It’s why there’s currently a greater focus on product design (witness recent events at the Design Museum). It’s frightening to read companies like Nestle say that marketing is the heart and soul of the company, rather than their products. It’s products that need to be at the heart, not the spin.
Nike’s latest product line ‘Nike Considered’ unites innovation with its commitment to the environment. Nike, through its products, is actually doing something about sustainability, not just talking about it. As Nike says on its website, “it combines the coolest athletic products and, well, the green stuff.” Do you want to be told that corporate social responsibility is important to a brand, or do you want to see a brand actually do something about it?
Agencies need to help brands invent products and services rather than just sell the ideas around them. Clever communication agencies are slowly beginning to work with brands on service and product innovation, not just the identity of the brand. There is a growing trend for clients to focus less of their marketing budget on the consumer insight strategy piece, and more on implementing the consumer insight into future product and service offerings.
Agencies have to move beyond being seen solely as communicators, but also as having tinkering hands that can help invent brand’s futures. They have to stop creating ideas for ideas sake. What’s a good idea worth if it can’t be realized?
Think when Richard Gere’s character in the film Pretty Woman decides to build ships instead of tearing a business apart. We want to make things with our hands, build things. Talk is hot air. Ideas on their own no longer have any currency.
© Kristina Dryza 2005
Kristina Dryza is a consumer trends expert and a LingoLAB associate and can be reached on mobile 07812 352 088 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
March 15, 2005
Blushing Buyer saved embarrassment
The ‘Name of the Month’ for March is a website I stumbled across called 'blushingbuyer', while looking at names and language used for OTC pharmaceuticals.
In a virtual serendipitous moment I was part of Blushing Buyer’s world. Now I can avoid the embarrassment of asking for haemorrhoid cream, incontinence pads, condoms, bad breath treatment products and something for my athlete’s foot that was definitely not acquired through athletic activity.
For those products that you are likely to blush over when purchasing in a shop this is the solution and it all comes delivered to your door. “Shyness can stop you” as Morrissey’s song laments. In my case it can stop me from asking for anything vaguely embarrassing and therefore never sorting my minor health condition out. I am absolutely target market for this website for while I’m a grown-up, I do blush and am very self-conscious about certain things.
Most of us don’t like to admit to embarrassing complaints or conditions despite the fact that we’re likely to have them, usually several of them throughout our lives. To admit that we’re covering something up, sweeping something away can be difficult.
It’s probably a truism that we have the problem rather than the shop assistants and fellow shoppers. After all I wouldn’t think at all badly people buying the products for sale on this website. Thinking about it I must admit I can’t recall having seen a ‘man of a certain age’ buying 'Just for Men'. They obviously do and maybe for many their partners buy it for them.
I like the idea of saving the blushes of me as a buyer. At the same time I think I ought to conquer the fear, be honest and assert my right to have an itch here and a verruca there.
The Blushing Buyer provides the means of buying products discretely. It’s a bit of a revelation as there are products I never knew existed, notably a kit with which to examine one’s breasts and ‘ice batons’ - look under haemorrhoids or not as you choose!
Blushing Buyer is a relatively long name and while it doesn’t trip off the tongue its alliterative double ‘b’ is good as the repetition of the consonant sounds is a basis structural principle of Germanic languages. It is familiar and comfortable in linguistic terms and is common in most poetry. Also, the four syllables has a quite a bouncy rhythm. As a whole the name is comfortable. It emphasizes personal and shared experience and implies that it was set up to meet the needs of purchasers.
So what other kinds of names would work, names like ‘Blush Saver’, ‘Spare my Blushes’, ‘Secret Shopper’, ‘Discreet’, ‘Shyboots’, ‘Too Shy Shy’, ‘Heaven Sent’, ‘Door to Door’, ‘Click Safe’, ‘Shy Shopper’.
It’s an old comedy sketch routine where a young man (usually a man rather than a woman) is too embarrassed to ask the usually female shop assistant for ‘something for the weekend’. It’s one reason that vending machines in public conveniences, bars and motorway service stations are popular. The theory is that we’re all more ‘up front’ about purchasing products for our very personal use and while this is true I suspect we all look at who’s behind us and going to serve us.
Standing in Boots in Hammersmith with a shopping basket containing around 20 packets of condoms (all in the aid of product research) was actually rather enjoyable. I would love to know what the assistant and the shoppers behind me in the queue thought!!
Embarrassment is relative. I know that I would be much more conscious at purchasing Tena pads, Anusol cream and Nice ‘N’ Clear and a Natruclear head lice comb. Ice batons would be out of the question entirely!
To finish with I’ll pass on a tip for how to get some space on a crowded Underground train from a teenager I observed some months ago. Just sit there combing your hair with a head lice comb. Make sure that you inspect the comb with deep concentration after each stroke. No one will come within several feet of you and those close by will move.
Lice combs are available from Blushing Buyer as you would expect.
March 10, 2005
Brands & Brand Names in China -Seminar with Briffa
LingoLAB partner Pauline Amphlett gave a presentation on 'Brands and Brand Names in China' at the Law Society as part of law firm Briffa’s seminar ''Brand Protection in China' on 8th March.
The event provided the opportunity to look at the economic and manufacturing powerhouse that China has become and see how established brand owners in the West have dealt with the economic, social, cultural and linguistic differences. A big topic for one evening!
Pauline’s paper set the scene by providing a snapshot of brands that are becoming established in China. Mostly well-known international brands with a proven track record. Brand owners have had to adapt to particular local conditions and government requirements as well as facing the challenge of communicating what they are about to a largely new audience. It’s a truism that many businesses eye China with a mixture of fear and greed. It’s a market with both huge opportunity and challenges. A market that many businesses know they cannot afford to be isolated from.
The conditions for conducting business in China can be very different. For instance cosmetics giant Avon has had to sell in a retail environment rather than through network marketing, which was forbidden. The result has been that you are likely to find Avon on cosmetic counters near to Chanel – something unheard of in the US and Europe. Olay is another brand likely to be seen along the major luxury cosmetics brands.
At present foreign brands are exotic and desirable. There is a hunger for new products from an emerging, inquisitive consumer base eager to be satisfied. Many of the world’s desirable brands are already available and being made in China. Taking a brand to China presents many challenges and a major long-term investment.
Cultural appropriateness and brand translation in both brand message and linguistics are fundamentally important. Starting with the basics the Chinese language is based on a different system to Latinate languages. The good news is that the grammar is straightforward. From there on in it gets more complicated.
The key is pronunciation as there are four different tones of speech. If you give a particular tone to a syllable it has a different meaning, for instance the word “ma”. Depending on the tone it can mean “mommy”, “horse”, “hemp” or “curse”.
In order to popularise Putonghua, a Chinese phonetic alphabet was introduced in the late 1950s called ‘Pinyin’. Pinyin is a means of transcribing Chinese rather than translating it.
It is based on English pronunciation, so that essentially it is pronounced as written. It used the 26 English letters as its consonants and vowels to pronounce Chinese words correctly. Many people seeking to learn Chinese learn Pinyin first.
Then there’s the written pictographic language to deal with. Chinese is written in a character form using a series of strokes that form a character. Characters may be combined to provide additional or more exact meaning. 10% of Chinese characters are pictographs, stylised representations of the objects they represent e.g. sun, moon, person and tree. Over many thousands of years these have been simplified and modernised.
These are not enough to convey ideas so the other characters are ideographs that express ideas, concepts. For instance:
A person and an enclosure combined = prison
Two people on top of the character for ‘earth’ = to sit
A woman and a child beside her = good
A pig under a roof = home
In addition there are radicals that denote additional meaning to the whole character by expressing emotion such as love, hate, fear etc. It is normal for a Chinese character to have a radical and there are over 200 of them in Chinese writing.
One reason the pictographic language has survived is that in a country where there were different dialects the pictographs were used by all. Simplified characters were introduced after 1949 to support increased literacy and ease of communication.
English is widely taught and people are becoming more familiar with foreign names and English language usage, notably in the major urban centres. Brand owners have adapted communications campaigns to the local market and cultural sensibilities and foreign brands do have cachet. However, translation of brand names to ensure that they are right for China is crucial. The importance of good translation applies to the meaning as well as the description.
Some names are just untranslatable. A brand name like “I can’t believe it’s not butter”would present a real problem, as would concepts, cultural references and idioms that are completely unknown in China.
There are some major regional dialects in China. In all, there are eight regional dialects, seven in the southeast and one in the north.
Words are made up of initial consonant sounds, followed by a vowel and in compound words a second syllable. Cantonese, being more ancient often has a second consonant at the end.
The Chinese language has relatively straightforward grammar. A major difference to English and other European languages is that of the third component of the language, that of the tones of pronunciation. There are four tones and it is the tone that makes the difference to the meaning and it is this that is most difficult to learn. English speakers have a natural inclination to pronounce the fourth tone.
Putonghua (standard Chinese) is based on a northern China dialect and is used in broadcasts and taught in schools throughout China.
Regarding the brand identity the name may appear in English, or with the English version alongside the Chinese. There are different ways of translating the names and brand owners have taken different approaches.
Essentially there are three types of translation:
A combination of phonetic and punctuation
How Brand Owners Represent their Brands
Some examples of well-known brands in China:
McDonalds __ Mai Dang Lao
SONY __ Suo Ni
Walt-Disney __ Di Si Ni
Motorola __ Mo Tuo Luo La
Valentino __ Hua Lun Tian Nu
Nokia __ Nuo Ji Ya
Givenchy __ Ji Fan Xi
Pizza Hut __ Bi Sheng Ke
Name implies that if you eat there you are invincible and successful.
Microsoft __ Wei Ruan (Micro Soft)
Apple Macintosh __ Ping Guo (Apple)
Poison (Dior Perfume)__ Du Yao (Poison)
Coca-Cola __ Ke Kou Ke Le (tasty and happy)
Mercedes-Benz __ Ben Chi (fast car)
Ping Zhi in Hong Kong (safe & reliable)
Volkswagen __ Da Zhong (car for ordinary people)
BMW __ Bao Ma (cherished horse)
Pampers __ Bang Boa Shi (help the baby comfortable)
Avon __ Ya Fang (elegance & fragrance)
Pentium __ Ben Teng (rapid & powerful)
Canon __ Jia Neng (good performance)
Colgate __ Gao Lu Jie (very clear and clean)
Ikea __ Yi Jia Ju (furniture for a cosy and comfortable house)
IBM – no translation or pinyin version
KFC – Chinese translation not used by consumers
Here are some examples of Chinese brands where the literal translation from Chinese into English carries a negative message:
White Feather clothing brand
Pansy shirts for men
White Elephant batteries
Five Goats bicycle
Fang Fang skin powder for babies
Some Chinese businesses are looking toward the international export market and have understood that their names and identities have to be used in a Latinate form. They have re-created them where translation and transliteration didn’t work. These names are much more akin to international brand names.
Irico from ‘iris’ and ‘corporation’ TV monitor manufacturer
Subor electrical appliances
Taking your Brand to China - key things to consider and action:
Does the name work linguistically and culturally?
Are there regional differences to consider?
Is it available as a trade mark?
Have you registered it in China? (This is essential for establishing your rights)
Have you defined your proposition and offer for the Chinese market?
Have you conducted market and consumer research?
Do you have a defined communications strategy?
Taking your brand to China requires a well-laid plan to cover the cultural and legal conditions. The challenges are not insurmountable. What you need is an understanding of the market, the country and Chinese people and a plan for doing business in this most important emerging economy. Viewing China with a mixture of ‘fear and opportunity’ is not a bad thing as both are part of the business mix. Brand owners who concentrate on the opportunity are the most likely to reap the rewards.
March 03, 2005
'Wave Goodbye' - What's in a name?
What happens when the name you have chosen for your product or company becomes associated with a disaster beyond imagination?
On 7th January 2004, the Canadian division of Toyota announced plans to call one of its new models the 'Celica Tsunami'. The car's strapline: "The new wave of bold style." However, shortly after the Tsunami that devastated South Asia on 26th December 2004, the company decided it couldn't face a storm of negative publicity and pulled its Tsunami ads. They have now changed the car's name to the 'Celica Sport Package'.
I think Toyota have made the right decision choosing to change the name, as Tsunami (Tsunami is the Japanese word for tidal wave) is now a word that has so many negative connotations for people all over the world. A natural disaster - yes, but still devastating and very much at the forefront of many peoples minds. Would you really want to go and buy a car with a name which reminds you of such a tragedy. However, very bad luck for Toyota, as I would say that 'Tsunami' before the 26th December worked very well especially with the strapline "The new wave of bold style.". It will be interesting to see whether the name 'Tsunami' will be used again in five to ten years when memories have faded a little or whether it will be pushed back into the dictionary archives as one to never go near again.
Other 'Tsunami' named products are registered for:
Cosmetics and toiletries
Tools and household products such as washing machines, dryers, cookers etc.
Loudspeakers and hi-fi equipment
Sports goggles, ski goggles and sunglasses
Bathtubs, whirlpools and bathroom fittings
Stationery and writing instruments
Plants and seeds
Non-alcoholic drinks, tea and coffee
TV and radio transmission services
Posted by louise.tomkinson at 11:19 AM | Single Article
LingoLAB is a creative naming agency,
creating the language that makes brands successful.