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Linguistic Screening / Product Name Evaluation

The next time your client or your company wants to evaluate their English product name or tagline in other countries/languages, give us a call for our proprietary process that we use in linguistic screening projects.  We will help you choose the testing method that works best for your particular needs. See our infographic on 2 options here…

There are a whole array of considerations that marketers and product developers go through before they even decide on a product name in their domestic market. However, these considerations are often overlooked during product name testing for their foreign markets.

When our clients come to us for linguistic screening of their English product names, we start by taking inventory of the main considerations that went into the development of the brand for the domestic market. Here are a few examples of the most prevalent metrics for linguistic screening:

The Brand Concept

We consider the elements such as brand positioning, brand messaging, and product segmentation to be the foundation for analysis in the target market. We leverage the knowledge that was created during the name development to test and analyze in the target market.

The Language

Our product name evaluation process provides you with 2 options:  The Gut Check or the Thorough Linguistic Screening.

A gut check is a high-level linguistic check that is typically used for pharma companies launching global drug names.  The pharmaceutical industry is under strict requirements for drug names to avoid mix-ups with other similar sounding drugs and to be able to go through the rigorous trademark process for global brands in Class 5.  Many linguistic issues can be inadvertently created.

Linguistic screening should not only take into account appropriate meaning in other languages but also the ease by which a product name can be pronounced by a person from another country. Pronunciation could be an important success factor in product name adoption. Names can be unintentionally softened through differences in pronunciation in the target market. Understanding how a product sounds in the target market can be valuable information in choosing the right product name.

In addition to the oral pronunciation, we also consider the written form, as a whole and in parts to identify any negative or positive meanings and/or connotations. Our more thorough testing also includes subjective research which uncovers further associations and research in the target countries on literal and figurative meanings, other existing products, historical and religious associations, etc.

Our process in doing the analysis with our linguists is based on our experience in education and research. We ask our questions of the linguists in certain ways to elicit and draw upon their unique learning styles.  We provide you with definitive answers and examples illustrating any range of points on an answer so that you don’t have to come back to us to get clarifying information.

Our linguists are selected based on their research ability. Not every translator is also a linguistic screener.  Our linguists must have experience in this specific field and be able to answer questions that focus on phonetics, phonology and morphology.  Linguists specializing in this field are also researchers.  They know how to quickly search with different keywords in their language to find that additional information (such as an existing product in their country with a similar name) that can be very helpful in deciding which name to use. In addition, it’s also up to our Project Managers who read through the responses and go back to the linguists for clarification, more information or questions on how they answered.  This dialogue and final report is facilitated with precise project management.

The Culture

Cultural analysis can include a wide variety of aspects. One example is the use of colors and images that are appropriate and engaging. Another aspect is name associations. In product name development, associations with competitors or other organizations is usually taken into account for different reasons (legal reasons, unique factor, etc.). Powerful associations can be made with similar words used in related or unrelated industries, or for instance in popular culture. Especially with highly ambiguous names, powerful associations that support the brand positioning can be a key success factor and should be tested in the target markets. Cultural views may vary by generation and therefore an important attribute is to understand the target segmentation of the product. Gender roles in purchasing are also important to consider as these differ by country. You may not be marketing to the decision maker!

Product Analysis

While actual product testing is not part of the scope for linguistic screening, we also should not discount the value of product analysis for the target market. Product aspects such as packaging and design can be taken into consideration and analyzed for further testing in the target market. Having product aspects analyzed before you test in your target market can help narrow down the goals for expensive tests using local focus groups.

The Linguistic Screening process should benefit from open communication and flow of information between product developers and linguistic and cultural analysts. Too many times, the brand development process is overlooked in product name development for a foreign market. When considering the investment that has gone into the product and the potential it could have, the investment in a carefully executed linguistic screening process should be a drop in the bucket.

Want to learn more about the specific metrics in linguistic screening that are considered?