Global Naming Party



Ford recently announced that it is relaunching the Fiesta as a worldwide brand (see article). I love this naming strategy, but it doesn’t always work. Ford’s justification is two-fold: the name already has some existing equity (albeit, not all positive) and by using one name in multiple markets, they can trim down their marketing expense.

But from a naming consultant’s perspective, they got lucky. Fiesta is one of those words that has near-global awareness. The Spanish word (meaning festival or celebration, from the Latin festum/festa, meaning “feast”) has transcended borders and is now commonly understood by native English speakers (as well as speakers of dozens of other languages). Because the car is targeted at new car buyers (typically a younger demographic), the idea of a celebration ties in nicely with the broader marketing message for the car (again, across geographic borders).

Creating names with such international consistency is tough. Just ask the folks at VW. Can anyone spell Tuoreg? Taureg? Touareg? Or ask the folks at Buick. Who knew that Lacrosse was a Canadian slang term for masturbation? If they had done the linguistic research we offer our clients, they would have known before they launched.

Some of you may want to include the infamous “Nova” in this mix. However, let us dispel the myth once more. Yes,� when literally translated, “no va” would mean “doesn’t go” in Spanish. Yet the car is still sold (quite successfully) in Spanish-speaking countries. This is possible because people don’t usually parse brand names this way. I love the counter-example offered by would anyone think twice about buying a dinette set that used the brand “Notable”? (Get it?)

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Kudos to Ford for coming up with (and now relaunching) a brand name that sends the right message to a global audience. If any of you readers out there are looking for a new brand name that functions equally well in multiple international markets, Catchword can help.

Name Grade: A


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