We’re all familiar with the non-English words used as brand names, like Kijiji, Bodega, Prego, or Uber. We’re probably more familiar with intentionally misspelled words used as brand names, like Tumblr or Lyft.

Non-English names (especially European and specifically French-derived) can signal elegance, and are often used in fashion. Misspelling can be a cue that the company is techy, or an upstart.

With Phlur, you get both.

From www.Phlur.com

A misspelling of fleur, the French word for flower, Phlur is hoping you will be willing to skip the trip to the department store and buy cologne online. Specifically, Phlur’ll sell you some samples on the cheap, and then give you a discount on full bottles once you find the scent you like.

We usually stick to reviewing newborn names. Phlur has been around for over a year, but saw renewed press recently due to a round of fundraising. Since the name was a bold choice, here we are.

Both non-English names and misspelled names are meant to be surprising; they ask the consumer to go on a little journey with the brand. They are meant to make you take a second look. When well executed, consumers like that. But the heart of the matter is this: can English-speaking consumers handle a non-English name that is ALSO misspelled?

Zappos is one pseudo-precedent. The name comes from zapato, the Spanish word for shoes. But Zappos has many of the hallmarks of a good name in its own right: it has a double letter, a memorable Z to kick it off, and it’s fun to say.

Phlur doesn’t have that. Phlur is awkward to read, and the pronunciation takes work to decipher. We just aren’t used to that letter combination; the only word I can think of that starts with “phl” is “phlegm.” (A quick jaunt through Webster’s also cues me in to phlebitis, which believe me, you don’t want to contract.)

The scent names they’ve created are all elegant, and the copy is cheeky but informative. The scent Hanami, for example, is descibed as “Effervescent and ethereal; a butterfly ice skating.” That’s all great, but the name Phlur just isn’t quite elegant enough, and doesn’t read as playful and cheeky enough to be the face of the otherwise well-branded brand.

Finding an available trademark and domain name is always difficult, and doing so with a misspelled non-English name would be, in theory, much easier than with most other naming directions. (The options are less limited because the territory is relatively uncharted.) Perhaps that was a motivator for the company’s choice of Phlur. Exploring this territory for a company name could be a good call but only if you can develop one that works well on all levels, including pronunciation by English speakers.

I’ll tell you one thing. Phlur definitely got its domain name for free.

Both non-English names and misspelled names are meant to be surprising; they ask the consumer to go on a little journey with the brand. They are meant to make you take a second look. When well executed, consumers like that. But the heart of the matter is this: can English-speaking consumers handle a non-English name that is ALSO misspelled?