Sunday, September 7, 2008

Brand and Product Names that may not do too well with Singaporeans and Malaysians

Building up your brand or product with a memorable and striking name is essential, but a name which works well in your country or region may be taken out of context in another part of the world. The brand name Siemens surely invokes sniggles among teenagers of the English speaking world.

Here are 36 which I could think of at the moment, in the part of the world I live in. Do let me know if you know of any other!

Name of Product: Softlan
What is it actually selling: Fabric Softener
What it sounds to us: Lan, in the Chinese dialect Hokkien, is the Penis. And having a Soft-lan, in certain situations, is definitely not a good thing for both parties.

Name of Product: DBI-Sala
What is it actually selling: Fall Protection Equipment in the Construction Industry, selling Body Harness, etc.
What it sounds to us: The Malay word Salah means wrong, and when you're talking about body harness and how it's supposed to save your life in case you fall, you so do not like it to go wrong. DBI-Sala products probably don't do so well in the Construction Industries of Malaysia and Indonesia.

Name of Service: Pukii
What is it actually: A savings plan, catered for children, created by The Shanghai Commerical and Savings Bank. Also, the little piggy mascot's name.

What it sounds to us: Puki, in the Malay Language, is the cheebye, which is, in clinical terms, the Vagina. With TVCs such as these, you'll have the children of China singing the jingles which goes puki-puki-puki, kawaii!, while in another part of the world, sputtering the same word could earn the Malaysian/Singaporean kid a smack across the face from their parents.

Anyway, Check out the Puki City as well.

Name of Company: KOTEH Auto Sales
What is it actually: A Canadian Car Sales Company
What it sounds like to us: KOTEH is dick in Tamil. Indians in Canada must have giggled.

Picture Credit: Becca Sutton's Flickr

Name of Company: Wanko
What it is actually:A clothing line of Veeko International Holding Limited, Hong Kong. (Source). Executive wear, catered for women in their 30s.
What it sounds like to us: People in English speaking worlds would tell you: to wank is to masturbate, and though it's an activity people engage themselves in once in a while, no one enjoys being called a wanker. Much less tell people that you work in a place called Wanko.

Wanko has opened several branches in the shopping malls of Singapore, so you'll have people like my poor chinese-educated mother enjoying the smart executive clothes, totally clueless. And no, I can't explain it to her. I don't know how to say " to masturbate" in Mandarin.

Name of Company: Pondan
What it is actually:Manufacturers of Baking Ingredients from Indonesia. Here's their website.
What it sounds like to us: Pondans are how the Malays call transvestites, and sometimes, effeminate men. Nama Salah lah, brudder.


Anonymous said...


cakie :P

JY / kosherjellyfish said...

Cakie, you wanker!

EzRich Project said...

I loves Pondan ... baking ingredients lar.

みえ® said...

hahah there are a few more i came across with funny names when u read it in dialects LOL but surely i didnt know Koteh is dick in tamil ... now i learned something new

desperate addict said...

I also don't know what is "masturbate" in Chinese. Let me know when you find out!