Rebrand Recoil: Name Review of the Kalashnikov Concern


Perhaps the world’s most ambitious, harebrained, unthinkable, just-so-crazy-it-might-explode rebrand ever is occurring right now in Russia. The Avtomat Kalashnikova in its various forms, most notably the AK-47, will soon be known as the Kalashnikov Concern. That’s right—the Kalashnikov Company would henceforth like to be known as an ambassador of “peace and calm” and be, as one controlling stake-holder puts it, as internationally recognizable as Apple. Accompanying the rebrand are all sorts of marketing materials that speak to how the weapon represents peace, calm, and liberation for oppressed people (you know, much like a white dove or olive branch). Maybe it’ll come pre-loaded with a flower in the muzzle.

First of all, the AK-47 is already the Apple of weapons. If you aren’t a gun enthusiast (and don’t play videogames), can you name ANY other branded weapons? Ok, maybe Colt or Winchester, but still. There are 100 Million AK-47s in the world—it’s a global weapon of Apple status, and the name is iconic among gun owners and non-gun owners alike.

But anyways, the Kalashnikov Group wants to promote Peace rather than Death and decided to ax their brand name. Not getting into whether it is remotely possible in the first place for the company to become associated with peace and calm, “Concern” is an interesting choice. Concern means worry and anxiety. It also means a matter of interest, and most fittingly, care and sympathy. Now of course, we are dealing with an imperfect translation here, and these three English definitions were not all intended (though when naming internationally, of course, one must check for all alternate meanings!). To be true to their intentions, we’ll take Concern to just mean care and sympathy. In addition, the Russian word, концерна, also carries a secondary denotation of “trust.” So, what about shooting someone involves care, sympathy, or trust? Nothing…but…

I don’t know what to say. This incredible gambit is so unheard of, all the rules are out the window. I can’t think of any precedent (outside of Nineteen Eighty-four) for this strategy of, you know, calling a dog pile a daisy.

The disconnect is so absurd, I don’t know how to evaluate the name. The rebrand is obviously intended to influence public perception (in a time when international sanctions on Russia have greatly curtailed the export of the gun to the US and elsewhere), rather than appeal to individual consumers, for whom the AK-47 brand is iconic. But, who’s buying into this?

The Kalashnikov Concern rebrand is just so far beyond my comprehension.  If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments!

Grade: WTF+

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