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What's In a Name?
Thread poster: Claudia Alvis

Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 21:53
Partial member
Spanish
+ ...
Feb 5, 2008

If a company has a great idea and a great price, even if the the product is great, the lack of a proper localization process can be fatal. It's not just a marketing thing.

A new company has launched a Custom-to-order phone, no comments on the quality, but the optional specifications seem very good, the price is more than fair and the phone looks good (ok, I like it). The problem? The name: the zzzPhone is not exactly a not-so-good brand name, it's a terrible name. According to the company:

What's In a Name?

The three 'z's in "zzzPhone" represent the Chinese characters for 'personal', 'exclusive', and 'expert':

"ZiJi de"(×Ô¼ºµÄ) means 'self-owned' or 'personal';
"Zhuan You de"(רÓеÄ,ΨһµÄ) means 'exclusive';
and "¡°Zhuan jia de" (ר¼ÒµÄ,רÃż¼ÊõµÄ) means 'expertise'.

The zzzPhone encompasses all of these traits, as a personal and exclusive phone designed with expert quality and technical support.

(Pardon the lack of Unicode)

This phone is targeted towards the American market, where most people will associate the zzz with sleeping, so it's fair to think that the name won't work. It's a poor choice of a name, but even worse, if the company was so lazy that they didn't even bother to find the right name (which is kind of important), probably the rest of the parts were equally ignored, I mean quality control, service and the product itself.

The zzzPhone

[Edited at 2008-02-05 22:57]


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 23:53
Spanish to English
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Rolls Royce Feb 5, 2008

Your tale reminds me of the time - a few years back, it's true - when the famous luxury car-maker hit the German market with its latest model, known in the UK as the 'Silver Mist'.

MediaMatrix


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:53
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Think Feb 5, 2008

Now they need to think not in Chinese, but in American. Where is their US advertising agency?

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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
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Spanish
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TOPIC STARTER
... Feb 5, 2008

I doubt they even used advertising services from an agency or even a localization team. Even the website seems very poorly done.

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John Di Rico  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:53
Member (2006)
French to English
Kind of like it... Feb 6, 2008

If it ever came to France, I'd love it! Everyone saying "have you heard of ze phone?" or "Where's ze phone?"...



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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 23:53
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Well, yes, but ... Feb 6, 2008

John Di Rico wrote:

If it ever came to France, I'd love it! Everyone saying "have you heard of ze phone?" or "Where's ze phone?"...



... as the name starts not with 'z' but with 'zzz', the French would end up searching for "ze ziziphone" - and we all know what a zizi is in France, don't we!

MediaMatrix


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:53
English to German
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I wouldn't change the name Feb 6, 2008

It's kind of unique and original. The new zzzell phone... I like it.

Maybe their US ad agency strongly recommended to leave it as is for a good reason.

I am wondering how many people would know what the acronym IBM stands for and in what language.

[Edited at 2008-02-06 11:03]


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John Di Rico  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:53
Member (2006)
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excellent! Feb 6, 2008

mediamatrix wrote:


... as the name starts not with 'z' but with 'zzz', the French would end up searching for "ze ziziphone" - and we all know what a zizi is in France, don't we!

MediaMatrix


I love it!


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:53
German to English
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Localization v. Advertising Agency Feb 6, 2008

I think Henry touched on this and I would like to as well:

Are translators doing localization actually doing what advertising agencies charge lots of money to do? And if so, are these translators (localizers) charging as much as the ad agency would?

Is there a difference between localizing a translation and coming up with an ad campaign for abroad?

[Edited at 2008-02-06 12:48]


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
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Localization vs. Advertising Feb 6, 2008

They're two completely different things. I don't think many localization agencies can do the job of an advertising company, and vice versa. But still a localization team or professional would have warned the client.

And on the same note:




Back to the subject of product names, we noticed a stand for a firm selling “Hyper STD” at the tekom conference in Wiesbaden, Germany last November (see photo above). Yuck! Most American buyers would steer clear of products associated with Sexually Transmitted Diseases.


From "Chevy “Nova”: Updating Bad Translation Apocrypha" - Global Watchtower. The article has very funny examples, although some of them are very well known.


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Roberta Anderson  Identity Verified
Italy
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acronyms Feb 7, 2008

Nicole Schnell wrote:

I am wondering how many people would know what the acronym IBM stands for and in what language.


Ich bin müde?



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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:53
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Hehe.. Feb 7, 2008

Roberta Anderson wrote:

Nicole Schnell wrote:

I am wondering how many people would know what the acronym IBM stands for and in what language.


Ich bin müde?




This unofficial version is indeed highly popular among all people who ever worked for them))
Other than that, the Stuttgart people insist on "Internationale Büromaschinen".


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
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Where do you draw a line? Feb 7, 2008

I do agree, Claudia, that the Chinese company should probably have done some more research on how the name will be marketed in the Western world, and that this would have been in the company's best interest.
But... I can't help feeling that there's something very "anglocentric" (if that's the right word) in what you're saying.
So the first thought of every international company devising a new product should be "what will the name invoke in English"? How about in Finnish, or Bulgarian, or Swahili?
And (Nicole already alluded to that), how much time do companies in the English-speaking world spend thinking about how their product name will be interpreted in other countries of the world? Let me guess... no time at all!
I'm obviously not arguing with the business side of the issue, just wanted to bring that point across.


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 21:53
Partial member
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TOPIC STARTER
American market Feb 7, 2008

Well, this product in particular is just for the American market, as it doesn't work in Europe because it uses a different frequency.

The problem is that many clients (and translation agencies for that matter) think that translating is the end of the road. They expect the translators to do the translations, but they also expect them to take care of the technical issues, design, research, etc., and that's part of the localization process. And what's worse, they assume that all those services are included in the price of the translations. If they want the translator to provide additional services, then those extra services should be paid accordingly.


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 23:53
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Think Global! Feb 7, 2008

Claudia Alvis wrote:
Well, this product in particular is just for the American market, as it doesn't work in Europe because it uses a different frequency.


That statement is apparently incorrect:
The compay's website says:
Supported Bands
Tri-Band
Customers in the USA:
800/850, 1800, 1900
Customers in the EU:
900, 1800, 1900


And even if it were true, there's still a lot of anglocentiric thinking in the assumption that the US is a monolingual market.

MediaMatrix


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