What’s in a Name?

Contributed by Peter R. Geyer

There is an old marketing tale (that is handily debunked here) about how back in the 1970s Chevrolet tried to market the Nova automobile in Mexico, only to find that it sold poorly. When they looked into the matter, they discovered that “Nova” in Spanish could be read as “no va” which roughly means “doesn’t go.”

While it turns out that this story is not actually true, it does demonstrate the usefulness of having somebody familiar with your new overseas target market actually review your product, its marketing, and its positioning prior to release. What may seem like an awesome name or marketing strategy in one language or culture, may actually end up sending all the wrong signals in another language or culture. Even the best product in the world can be an unnecessary burden if it unintentionally sends the wrong signals to its international customer base. 

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