The dangers of naming products for the international market

If your company sells a product on the international market, it’s a good idea to do some careful research about how that product’s name sounds in all languages spoken by your new customers.

Here are some classic examples of where companies failed on this due diligence:

t1000988xw_1In English, the word „mist“ means a light fog – it sounds ethereal, mysterious and beautiful. Not so the German word „Mist“. This proved a problem for a number of companies when they tried to introduce their products to the German market. Rolls Royce (who had to rename their car from „Silver Mist“ to „Silver Shadow“), Clairol (whose curling-iron , the „Mist Stick“ was a flop in Germany) and whiskey-maker Irish Mist, all had big problems with this particular false friend.

Vicks-VapoCool-1-size-3And did you know that in the rest of the world, the brand known in Germany as „Wick“ is actually called „Vicks“. Doesn’t sound so appropriate when pronounced in German, does it…?

And honestly, I think the less said about the IKEA product-naming disaster below, the better..


Do you know of any other examples? Add them to the comments below!

3 thoughts on “The dangers of naming products for the international market

    1. Wow. Some of those are amazing. I really wonder what the process was that led to that drink being called „The Jew’s ear juice“. Incredible.

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