Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. But trust me, it’s bunk (work with me here, I’m trying to keep this blog polite). Unfortunately there are car companies who have yet to be convinced by this phrase. Names are all important to car companies, or at least you’d think they should be.
Let’s start be de-bunking one myth: The Chevy Nova. There’s a story about how Chevrolet didn’t know that this could be interpreted in Spanish speaking countries as “no go.” Not a great name for a car, so the joke goes. I’ve even heard it recanted as a business lesson by training instructors (“business experts”) who believe they’re imparting great wisdom and imploring the class to (wait for it) “do their research throughly.”
Thing is, to assume spanish speakers would treat “nova” as “no go” is like assuming english speakers would treat a company called “Notable Furniture” as not making tables. It’s (work with me here) bunk.
Chevrolet did sell the Nova in spanish speaking countries, and it sold just fine. The story is made up (probably by those business experts who also speak *&^%$! bunk).
But there are cars that have shot themselves in the foot (tire?) with their names. We’ve met a couple in previous posts, the Buick Y-Job, the Daewoo with its No.1 and No.2, for instance.
Ford didn’t want to miss out on testing this approach to marketing their concepts. Hence the Ford Synus.
Now why the ding-dong would anyone call this resprayed prison van a nasal drainage tube is beyond me. Far beyond. I mean, I can think of a long string of verbal abuse I’d like to give to the designers of this waste of road space (and some of it involves intimate body parts), but nasal passages are low on the list.
While we’re on the subject of the Synus, the designers intention was that it would look like a bank vault, then when the pressure of urban life got too much, the occupants would stop, sit in the back and look at a giant TV on the rear door for relaxation. We’re left to hope that the pressure doesn’t get too much for those poor over stressed urban-ites while they’re in the outside lane.
Now, if those “business experts” pushing the Nova myth really want an example to show the importance of research, they need only look to Renault. A couple of years ago the unveiled the concept car below.
Renault, being French, were undeterred by the sniggers, the pointing fingers and the people rolling on the floor laughing. They pressed ahead and put their concept into production.
The reason they chose that particularly, um, distinctive name was because the car has a metal folding roof.
The car has a sort of dumpy chic look to it that’s in favor (mainly with hairdressers) in Europe at the moment. It might even be fun to drive but can you imagine sitting at the lights with everyone staring at you? No, me neither.
The final entry comes from a company that, surprisingly, hasn’t made it big in the car world: Assystem.
Now I realize they’re a company with a proud heritage, but I just can’t see anyone going into the office on Monday morning to declare they bough an Assystem over the weekend. I mean, is there any way to pronounce that world that doesn’t emphasize the ass part? Perhaps they were attempting to distract people from their name when they gave their concept car a diamond arrangement of wheels, and an augmented reality TV screen the occupied the entire windscreen. Take a look at this YouTube clip the get the full impact of their genius.
Despite these lessons in naming, I’m sure there are better (worse?) examples out there. Any ideas?