Whenever I read "Moleskine," I think MOLE SKIN and visualize dirt-digging furry critters with extra thumbs, or the zits on the faces of Cindy Crawford and Barack Obama—not expensive notebooks.
If you are considering names for a company or product, do your best to make sure the name's pronunciation is unambiguous in the countries where it will appear and that the name does not have incorrect or unpleasant connotations.
- Mr. Toyoda decided that "Toyota" sounded better than the family name.
- "Bich" can be pronounced "beesh" in France but when the company decided to market its lighters and pens in the USA it chose the "Bic" name which would probably not be pronounced "bitch."
- At its American debut, Korea-based Hyundai announced that in the USA the company name rhymes with "Sunday."
- Mr. Morita thought that "Sony" would be easier to pronounce than "Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo." He was right. However, I dated a young woman in New York who insisted on pronouncing the name "Saw-nee." I cringed whenever she said it and the relationship was short-lived. Sony once ran an ad campaign with the tag line "Sony. No Baloney." This was too late to save my relationship.
- International meanings can be as problematic as pronunciation is. The Chevy Nova caused snickering in Spanish-speaking countries where "no vaya" means "no go."