On a recent stroll through IFC, I found myself saying the names of the brands in my head. I stopped doing this pretty quickly - because even as a well-travelled, multinational, cross-cultural child of the world - I couldn't pronounce half of them. Let's take a quick look at what I was up against:
AIGLE, BVLGARI, Jaeger-LeCoultre, L'OCCITANE, diptyque, Claudie Pierlot, VILEBREQUIN, Blancpain, CHAUMET - come on. It's not even fair! I was absolutely rubbish at French at school, at the time mourning the fact that I would never be able to ask for directions to the train station in Paris (although, could order 'one bowl of chocolate' - that's still got to be useful). I had no idea that I was supposed to learn it to be able to pronounce luxury goods.
But then I got to thinking - is that part of the charm of these brands? Setting aside the fact that in their country of origin, I'm sure people go around saying 'AIGLE!' just for fun, because it's so easy. But is that the key? The more accessible the name of your brand, the more common it is? Everyone can say 'SaSa' - it's a bit of a leap to your tongue around 'cle de peau beaute'. Even those brands named after people seem to be named after the most exotic sounding people in the world; Ermengildo Zegna, Salvatore Ferragamo, Claudie Pierlot. I doubt a clothes label called 'Barry Jones' would have the edge of Giuseppe Zanotti.
Of course, this isn't always true - but I do find it a bit cruel. Hong Kong folk strive to collect labels and brand names, yet, I'm pretty sure that putting up the challenge of getting them to pronounce, 'Uterque' would be akin to some form of bullying. Is it exclusivity gone mad? Does it create mystery to attract customers? Is it just the way of the future and all of us should enrol in a European phonetics course? Who knows.
All I know is that when it comes to naming - names should be spoken - word of mouth is key to brand development. You want people to say the name of a brand with confidence and flair. Either simplify, or start holding pronunciation courses, free with every purchase.