Moving on with our Lost in translation series made us realise that car naming is a whole science. Some countries accept the brand’s name, otherс don’t. The significance of Skoda’s name is one of the remarkable cases, since the issue is with the brand’s name altogether, not just with a specific car model. Skoda means so many things in so many languages and none of them are good. Starting with the Czech “pity” which translates as Skoda (with capital S), the Russian “hurt” which also translates as skoda and the Polish “pain”, which also… yes, that’s right! Are these the best words to associate a car brand with? Where Skoda doesn’t have such issues is the naming of their specific models. But unfortunately this is where other car brands fail.
Clearly car naming is a huge challenge for the companies and maybe this is one of the main reasons for Audi, BMW and Mercedes to name their models just with letters and numbers. But was it really effective? Let’s see.
The Audi Q3 hit the market in May 2011 and was manufactured in Spain. The model’s name sounds like “cu-tres” on Spanish, but “cu-tres” has it’s own meaning, which does not fit very well with the commercial market. According to Real Academia Espanola’s website “cutres” means stingy, miserable, dirty. The naming choice is clearly not so good if the company wants to make selling deals with Spaniards.
Kia Borrego was a 4×4 car that was sold in the States. Designed by Peter Schreyer the car model was officially presented on the Detroit Motor Show in 2008. Although the same car was presented three years before that, but with a different name – KIA Mesa. According to the RAE “borrego” means “ignorant man”. Probably the KIA guys should have stick to the prototype name rather than choosing naming which is more expressive, but in a negative way.
The history of Opel’s bad naming choices doesn’t end with the Ascona model. In 1970 came the model Opel Manta. After three generations of manufacturing, the car was replaced by Opel Calibra. The reason? Well, according to the Spanish dictionaries the word “manta” means “having no ability to do something”.
If car naming is a whole science, then Spain must be the country where this science should be elaborated. It’s always good when a big brand makes a mistake, because that alerts us of when and where we should carefully consider the naming choice. If you’re afraid of falling in the traps of the Spanish dictionaries then you’d better trust professional naming service that will guarantee the right perception of your brand’s name.