‘Lumps of Delight’ anyone?

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Most of us have heard the phrase, ‘Think before you act’, but how about ‘Check before you market’?

I recently received a tasty box of authentic flavoured gel and starch morsels from the market stalls of Instanbul, otherwise known to us in the Western world as ‘Turkish Delight’. In other countries it’s known as lokum, halqum, or ratluk. Interestingly, the literal translation in formal Arabic is ‘comfort of the throat’. Somehow though, I don’t think it would have become the multi million pound confectionary industry it’s become today had it been promoted as such.

Perhaps the English aristocrat who brought over crates of the stuff in the 19th Century had an early sense of global branding or maybe he just got lucky? Either way, we’ll never know. However, today’s global brand managers need to think ahead and tread a lot more carefully when conjuring slogans or names, particularly in our social media driven world where things can go viral in hours. Badly translated slogans are harmless enough when it is confined to the local market, such as:

‘Our wines leave you nothing to hope for!’ (Swiss restaurant menu)

‘Teeth extracted by the latest methodists.’ (Hong Kong Dentist)

‘The manager has personally passed the water served here’ (Hotel, Acapulco)

However, it’s a far more costly and potentially ruinous mistake if a global brand ends up immediately alienating or offending new markets. It sounds obvious to check, but well known major brands have screwed up investing millions before realising their simple error didn’t translate as intended. Take Ford’s Pinto, (‘tiny male genitals’ in Portuguese), Schweppes tonic water (‘toilet water’ in Italian) or Nokia’s Lumia (‘prostitute’ in Spanish).

It’s no doubt amusing to tourists when you can get Poo Poo smoothies in China, BARF groceries in Austria or Shito peppers in Ghana. However, before entrepreneurs get carried away with their funky new brand name, it might pay to check whether the name is going to work internationally – especially in markets they expect to expand. Who knows, you may have just scuppered your potential to successfully branch out into a major new and before you’ve even started.

Fortunately, Jumpstone has no such connotations – or does it?

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matt guiver
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