Finnish Translator and Writer

Why do products have different names in different countries?

my 5 cents - top tip -satu wiren

How and why would you localize a brand name for other markets?

Without meaning to sound too obvious, the only way you can do it is by working closely with local marketing experts, who are native to your target country and understand the local market.

Some reasons to have different names for different market include:

  • Names may have undesirable meanings in foreign languages so there is a need to change the brand name for that country
  • Product’s original name is already in use in another country by a different product
  • The original name may be a word in the target language which brings something totally different in mind
  • The original name is too close to an another brand’s name


Some examples:

Lynx: they change to Axe in some countries

Mist: It means ‘manure’ in German. There’s a brand of liquor called Irish Mist that had to use a different name in German speaking countries.

Tegro, a weight-loss pill: It sounds harmless enough in English, but in French the word is phonetically identical to t’es gros, or ‘you are fat’.

The name is vital in building a brand’s identity over time. But with international markets, there is an added complexity, as the message represented by words and symbols can vary significantly between countries and cultures. What works in one country won’t necessarily work in another.

The old story about Chevrolet Nova

Legend has it, didn’t sell very well in Mexico.No va is spanish for “it doesn’t go.”

Not true. while ‘no va’ really is ‘no go’, the name had no effect on sales

Ask yourself and your international ‘helpers’ some vital questions


  1. Does the name mean anything in the target market (such as an antipsychotic medication that translated to “dogs are afraid of me” in Mandarin)?
  2. Does it have any negative connotations (such as the pill that started with the letters “Xep,” which in Russian sounds like a slang word for male genitalia)?
  3. How easily can it be pronounced?
  4. Are there any local products with the same or similar names?



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