Can having a difficult-to-pronounce brand name actually put a company at a disadvantage?
According Daniel M. Oppenheimer, a psychology professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management, harder-to-pronounce names made people less likely to purchase stocks, and politicians with difficult names had more trouble in polls.
Why? Because people associate easy to process information -- clear, simple language -- with positive qualities such as confidence, intelligence, and capability. If the public has difficulties identifying how to say a company name, it creates contention in the market that could end up hurting the brand.
Consider this: Greek yogurt company Fage was selling its product in the U.S. nine years before competitor Chobani appeared. As this article in Advertising Age explains, there were multiple reasons for the brand's failure to become the category leader. However, one has to wonder if the confusion surrounding the pronunciation of Fage had anything to do with it, especially considering the fact that Fage's packaging provides directions on how to correctly pronounce its name. (It's pronounced fa-yeh, in case you've been trying to work it out.)
How have other brands with baffling pronunciations faired when it comes to their success? The below infographic from Made by Oomph! provides the phonetic spelling of commonly mispronounced brands.
Brands such as Hoegaarden, Nutella, Tag Heuer, IKEA, Hyundai, Porsche, NIKE, MOSCHINO, HERMES, OCADO, HUBLOT, GIVENCHY, BALMAIN PARIS, Volkswagen, Adidas, Adobe, to name a few have been mispronounced all the time.
Check out the infographic to see if you have pronouncing brand names incorrectly.
And there are plenty more!
People get lost at the company name, then they can't move on to what the company sells. While a contentious company pronunciation does not predicate failure (as seen from the highly successful brands listed above), it does create the challenge of getting everyone clearly talking about the same brand -- you can't share it if you can't say it.
Let us know in the comments below which you got right, and if there are any other brands you see getting often mispronounced.