Nothing to see here


Of course the following story would be comical if I could say that nothing like this ever happens here.

Source: AOL: Powerpoint paralysis – Valleywag

…Straightforward enough. Splice in the different databases, slap a name on the product, pray. Not for AOL. The company engaged a top-tier naming agency, evaluated 120 different options, tested the finalists with focus groups in Denver and Chicago, checked on the meaning in 16 languages — and the brand strategy group explained its process in a laughably belabored 20-slide presentation.

The truth is somewhere in the middle. There isn’t much risk if you are a start-up in naming your product something that means “crap” in non-English languages.  But if you are AOL then doing so could mean irreparable harm to your brand and the money you make in that country.

I shudder when I think how much effort must have gone into the “Vista” name choice, but I’d rather spend that money than piss off an entire country or ethnic group with a poorly chosen name. 

I won’t say this means there is no bloat here, but simply that some things that are laughable from the perspective of a english language only startup are not that laughable when you own products that need to scale globally.

Comments (4)

  1. Source: The JobSyntax Blog : Microsoft and cool: so close yet so far :) Anyway, I love the end of the

  2. Norman Diamond says:

    > There isn’t much risk if you are a start-up in naming your

    > product something that means "crap" in non-English

    > languages.

    Actually whether you’re a start-up or not, there isn’t much risk in naming your product something that means "crap" in non-Japanese languages.  Or that has sexual meanings in non-Japanese languages.  The worst that can happen is that you get a[nother] listing on engrish.com.

    Of course a lot of companies just choose different random character strings for export versions and domestic versions even when the hardware is identical.  For example for a while I had an Epson MJ670C printer, and I think one time I figured out which export model string was the same printer.

  3. X.Static says:

    Reminds of the Chevy Nova ordeal (among others). Of course, "No Va" means "No Go" in Spanish, which certainly isn’t a very appealing name for a car.

  4. Mike says:

    X.Static: You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic urban legends. The most famous is that BillG said 640k should be enough for anyone, but only slightly less well known is this:

    http://www.snopes.com/business/misxlate/nova.asp