Catch This

Latin, Italian, whatever

Dell VostroSomehow I missed the news in July that Dell introduced another new brand name for its computers – Vostro. This line of computers is aimed at “the smallest businesses”, which I guess means 0-1 employees, since 1-25 (or even 1-50) is usually considered SMB. At the launch, Dell explained the name thusly:

Vostro means yours in Latin and Dell says the new brand is a milestone for the company, because it involves the company restructuring itself with a new division focussed on small businesses.

While Googling it, I noticed that “vostro” is sometimes said to be Latin, sometimes Italian. That’s because it’s both! As you will remember from your introductory Linguistics class, Latin is the ancestor of the modern Romance languages, including Italian.

It’s interesting that they’ve chosen a real non-English word here, in contrast to the real English words (Latitude), coined words (Inspiron), and alphabet soup (XPS). Maybe they’re just trying to cover all the bases.

I became aware of this brand while watching Mike Rowe on the Discovery Channel; a Vostro commercial has been running pretty often. At first I thought Vostro was a new brand name for Dell’s small business service, since the TV commercials are all about service and caring and your needs and so forth. Until I went to the Dell website, I didn’t realize that actual computers were named Vostro, too.

I think the meaning of the word is spot-on, but I disagree with points made by the good folks at Strategic Name Development:

Like many Italian words, it sounds powerful and racy.

I don’t find Vostro to be particularly “racy”, although, by virtue of the two “o” vowels it does sound grounded and weighty. (I’m not a big fan of the sound symbolism stuff, but I do think there are some cultural associations with certain linguistic structures.)

Italian also has the advantage of being a phonetic language, so it’s not hard to guess how to pronounce it.

Not really. I’m still not sure whether it’s “VAH-stroh” or “VOH-stroh”. Also, the consonant cluster “-str-” will be a bitch to pronounce in most Asian languages. So, do I like it, or spike it? I guess I like it, but sadly, it does not sing to me. Maybe Mike Rowe likes it better.

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Posted: Friday, October 19th, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Laurel Sutton

Veteran naming strategist and co-founder of Catchword

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