There’s an old anecdote about the Chevy Nova. Rumors are that it wasn’t selling very well in Spanish speaking countries. Then someone figured out that “No Va” in Spanish means “No Go.” And that’s probably why naming companies and products is an entire field in itself. Names not only mean different things in different languages, they are also attached to emotions. A name evokes a certain set of feelings and of course we all know feelings.
On a Food Network show, they conducted a research project to see how diners would react to food names. Would their taste buds dominate their feelings about the names? Researchers served the same basic dinner to two groups of diners. One group was given green beans, fish and potatoes. They were also served a piece of chocolate cake and a glass of red wine from New Jersey. The other group was served the same meal but with gourmet and French sounding names. They were told the wine was from Napa Valley as opposed to New Jersey for the first group.
The group that ate food with generic sounding names rated their meal a 3 or less out of ten while the better names got ratings of 8 and above. Generic sounding names were also perceived to be worth less though not necessarily worthless. The test customers would pay $12 for generic names but $22 for classier sounding names of the same meal. Feelings won in a big way.
It would be easy to generalize completely from this except the researchers further handicapped the generic names with paper plates and plastic table cloths as opposed to ceramic dishes and linen table cloths for the other group. We can’t really say the customers were reacting to the generically named food rather than the table cloths and dishes. Such research left us wondering what feelings are evoked when it comes to names of DVD players and other electronics. And, do product names trump brand names?
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