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Foreign branding is an advertising and marketing term describing the implied cachet or superiority of products and services with foreign or foreign-sounding names. In non-English-speaking countries, many brands use English or American-styled names. In English-speaking countries, many cosmetics and fashion brands use French or Italian-styled names to imply a connection to the style-conscious, while the northern European and Japanese names imply also high quality and advanced technology.
- Pret A Manger sandwich retail chain is British.
- Häagen-Dazs ice cream, trying to have a Scandinavian-sounding name, but was established by Jewish-Polish immigrants Reuben and Rose Mattus in the Bronx, New York.
- Vichyssoise, a cold potato and leek soup, was invented at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York in the 1910s but it was given a French name.
- Dolmio and Kan-Tong sauces have an Italian-sounding name and an Asian-sounding name respectively, but are both made by Masterfoods in Australia.
- "Möben" is a trademark of the English company Moben Kitchens, implying the perceived higher quality of German and Scandinavian kitchens.
- Matsui is Japanese-sounding brand of electrical retailer Dixons (UK).
- Ginsu knives have a Japanese-sounding name "Ginsu" (Kanji Japanese: 銀簾, Hiragana: ぎんす) but are made in America by Douglas Quikut
- Rykä shoes are given a Scandinavian-looking name, despite being an American company.
- Berghaus, a British Outdoor Equipment company that converted the name of its first premises (LD Mountain Centre) roughly into German to market its own products.
- Grü, the gravy-themed restaurant, originated in Detroit, Michigan.
- Swiss Chalet, Canadian based family restaurant known for chicken dinners. Some locations maintain a visual decorum resembling a swiss chalet.
In non-English-speaking countries
- Germany's "Rock Hard" and "Metal Hammer" magazines.
- In Japan Pocari Sweat, a popular sports drink marketed in Japan by the Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., has a name that to many English speakers would imply that the product actually contains sweat, rather than the intended meaning of a beverage intended to replace the electrolytes lost in sweating.
- Roland is a Japanese manufacturer of electronic music equipment with the name being chosen with the global market in mind. It is however difficult to pronounce for Japanese speakers, as they cannot differentiate "l" and "r" sounds.
- The Swedish snack food company Estrella is named after the Spanish word for star.
- Seoul Metropolitan City Development (서울도시개발공사 Seouldosigaebalgongsa), a corporation owned by the Seoul Metropolitan government changed its name to Seoul Housing Corporation or for short SH공사 (에스에이치 공사 Eseueichi gongsa).
- Korea Tobacco and Ginseng Corporation (한국담배인삼공사 Hangukdambaeinsamgongsa), a corporation formerly owned by the Republic of Korea government changed its name to KT&G Corporation (주식회사 케이티앤지 Jusikhoesa keitiaenji) after privatization. KT&G is an acronym for Korea Tomorrow and Global, not Korea Tobacco and Ginseng.
- South Korea-based LG Electronics (엘지전자 Eljijeonja) named its washer and dryer line Tromm (트롬 Teurom). One of the reasons for selecting this foreign sounding name was to imply to the Korean domestic market a connection to the perceived superior quality of foreign brands - but Tromm is a now a global product line.
- The main news program of Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (문화방송주식회사 Munhwabangsongjushikhoesa), a terrestrial broadcaster in South Korea, is called MBC Newsdesk (엠비씨 뉴스데스크 Embissi nyuseudeseukeu).
Many South Korean government-owned companies use foreign branding.
- Korea Electric Power Corporation (한국전력공사 Hangukjeollyeokgongsa), a corporation owned by the Republic of Korea government uses a brand KEPCO(켑코 Kepko).
- Korea Electrical Safety Corporation (한국전기안전공사 Hangukjeongianjeongongsa), a corporation owned by the Republic of Korea government uses a brand KESCO(케스코 Keseuko).
- Korea Expressway Corporation (한국도로공사 Hangukdorogongsa), a corporation owned by the Republic of Korea government uses a brand EX(이엑스 Iekseu).
- Korea Land and Housing Corporation (한국토지주택공사 Hanguktojijutaekgongsa), a corporation owned by the Republic of Korea government uses a brand LH(엘에이치 Ereichi).
- Korea Minting & Security Printing Corporation (한국조폐공사 Hangukjopyegongsa), a corporation owned by the Republic of Korea government uses a brand KOMSCO(콤스코 Komseuko).
- Korean Railroad Corporation (한국철도공사 Hangukcheoldogongsa), a corporation owned by the Republic of Korea government changed its brand to Korail(코레일 Koreil). Korail is a portmanteau of Korea and Railroad. The operator's high speed rail system, Korea Train Express (한국고속철도 Hangukgosokcheoldo) is marketed as KTX (케이티엑스 Keitiekseu), which stands for Korea Train eXpress.
- Korea Water Resources Corporation (한국수자원공사 Hanguksujawongongsa), a corporation owned by the Republic of Korea government uses a brand K-Water(케이워터 Keiwoteo).
Products renamed to avoid offence
- The company Bic changed its name from Bich (French pronunciation: [bik]) to prevent it from being mispronounced in English speaking countries as bitch.
- Mitsubishi Pajero had to be renamed to Montero in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, since pajero is a Spanish slang term for one who masturbates (with similar connotations as the British slang term wanker). Mitsubishi originally got the name Pajero from the pampas cat, Leopardus pajeros.
- The Honda Fit was originally intended to be named the "Fitta", but the name was shortened and in some markets renamed completely upon discovering that in several Nordic languages, "fitta" is a vulgar word for the female genitalia.
- Buick had to rename its Lacrosse to Allure in Canada, because it was a euphemism for masturbation in Quebec.
- The SEAT Málaga was marketed in Greece as the Seat Gredos, because the word Malaga was considered very similar to Malaka, a common Greek swear word for one who masturbates.
- The U.S. fast food chain Taco Bell formerly sold a burrito called a chili-cheese burrito. Its name was changed when many people became aware that the original name, chilito, is used as a slang term for a small penis.
- The Ford Maverick was intended to be marketed in Brazil as the Ford Pinto, but no one in Brazil would identify Pinto as a horse breed, since Pinto is a Brazilian informal term for "penis".
- In Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro, Nestlé could not sell instant coffee called Kenjara because the name resembles Serbo-Croatian vulgar words related to defecation.
- The Toyota MR2 sportscar is named MR in France, because a way of pronouncing it, "merdeux", sounds like the word for shitty in French.
- The popular Vicks brand of over-the-counter cough medication was renamed Wick in Germany, to avoid too much a similarity with the German word "wichsen" meaning to wank.
- In Israel, Korean car company Kia Motors adjusted their original pronunciation (IPA: [ki.a]) to sound like "Kaya" in promotional material, since a Hebrew slang pronunciation for "vomit" (קיא) sounds like the original brand name. This decision was later reversed, and now the company uses the normal pronunciation.
- Church's Chicken is known as Texas Chicken outside of North America, presumably to appeal to non-Christians who would not understand it was named for its founder George Church, and not a religious group.
- The computer Commodore VIC-20 was renamed to VC-20 in Germany, since VIC would be pronounced the same as fick (fuck in German).
- Although the Mexican bakery Bimbo uses its real name in English speaking markets, it emphasizes that the word "Bimbo" is pronounced "beam-bo" to avoid the negative connotations associated with the word "bimbo" in American English.
Foreign letters and diacritical marks (such as the umlaut) are often used to give a foreign flavor to a brand that does not consist of foreign terms.
Characters chosen for visual resemblance
Greek characters in Latin contexts
- The Greek sigma, Σ, is often used for Latin E, although it is the equivalent of Latin S. Examples include the film MY BIG FAT GRΣΣK WEDDING and ABC Family's college set series GRΣΣK.
- Less commonly, delta Δ or lambda Λ may be used for A, or theta Θ for O. Examples include Atlantis: The Lost Empire, in which the title is stylised as "ΛTLΛNTIS".
- The lower-case Greek lambda, λ, was used for Latin A in the video game Hλlf-Life, apparently in reference to the use of λ as the symbol for the decay constant (related to the concept of half-life).
Cyrillic characters in Latin contexts
- Cyrillic Ya, Я, and I, И, resemble the reversed Latin letters R and N, respectively, and are often used as such. Examples include the videogame TETЯIS.
- Cyrillic De, Д, may be used for Latin A, as in the film BORДT.
- The London-based sushi restaurant YO! Sushi uses a typeface that makes the Y and O look like the katakana letters リ and ク (romaji: ri and ku).
- Letters of the Hebrew alphabet can be used to evoke Jewish culture.
- The television series Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis use a glyph resembling Å in marketing materials, thus "STARGÅTE SG-1" and "STARGATE ATLÅNTIS", respectively. This usage derives from the symbol representing Earth on the titular Stargate, and is unrelated to the letter as used in the Swedish alphabet (which is pronounced similar to English "o").
Diacritics and foreign spellings
- The name of the French soft drink Pschitt is merely an onomatopoetic rendition of the sound made when the bottle is opened, but the -sch- and terminal -tt are German, rather than French, clusters.
- A premium-priced ice cream made by a company based in Bronx, New York was dubbed Häagen-Dazs to imply "old world craftsmanship and tradition." Häagen-Dazs has no meaning in any European language, although it contains several conventions used in European languages, such as the umlaut. Häagen-Dazs spawned imitators, such as Frusen Glädjé (frusen glädje without the acute accent meaning "frozen joy" in Swedish), another brand of premium ice cream. Häagen Dazs sued unsuccessfully in 1980 to stop them from using a "Scandinavian marketing theme."
- Le Tigre Clothing, an American brand which adopted a French name, has at times used an accent over the final "e" in tigre (French for tiger), although the French word itself contains no accent.
- The fashion for the heavy metal umlaut (use of umlauts in the names of heavy metal bands) can also be seen as a form of foreign branding.
Characters chosen by keyboard or encoding match
Where different keyboard layouts or character encodings map different scripts to the same key positions or code points, directly converting matching characters provides an alternative to transliteration when the appearance, rather than the meaning, is desired.
- The cover of Madonna's Greatest Hits Volume 2 contains the Japanese characters モヂジラミミヂ. These characters share the same keys on a dual-layout Japanese/English keyboard as the letters M-A-D-O-N-N-A. The characters are otherwise unrelated and the resulting Japanese text ("mo-dji-ji-ra-mi-mi-dji") is meaningless.
- The UK also has its own version of Metal Hammer, but the German one came first
- "SH공사". Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- "한국금연연구소 논평- "KT&G가 토종기업 맞습니까?"". 뉴스와이어. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- 박, 태구. "시민은 모르는 공기업 영어이름". 중도일보. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- 김, 민석. "영어 권하는 사회에서 설 곳 잃은 우리말". 서울대저널. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- 유, 용무. "철도공사, ´코레일´로 명칭 일원화". EBN 산업뉴스. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- "pajero".[dead link]
- Richard Jackson Harris, A Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication (2004), p. 101.