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Brands Should Watch Out For Offensive Product Names In Different Languages

Naming a product is a serious business for a brand. One thing a company would not like to see is international customers trying to suppress a chuckle when hearing it.

Swedish furniture maker Ikea has experienced this on a number of occasions. Part of the problem lies in the fact that Ikea´s catalogue lists more than 9,500 products sold in 26 countries and each of the items has its own name. The company has a strict naming policy that gives textiles Swedish girls´ names, while chairs and stools have boys´ names and other products bear the names of local lakes or even slang words. The company tries to make sure none of the names sounds offensive or obscene in any of the languages spoken in countries where Ikea has a presence.

However, the Ikea museum has a whole cabinet with unfortunate examples of product names that have caused a giggle, such as Anis, Dick and Fanny. There are also two of the most famous examples of product names – the children´s workbench called “Fartfull” and the desk targeted at slightly older customers, called the “Jerker,” the Belfast Telegraph reported.

Such examples might become even more common with the implementation of EU Directive 1007/2011 in 2014, which requires labels of clothes sold in EU member states to be translated into the 23 EU languages, potentially increasing the risk of improper translation and calling for very careful consideration. Ikea, meanwhile, aims to open between 20 and 25 new shops per year until 2020, which may make control over product names even more of a challenge.

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