Car. Clio, Yaris, Megane… how do manufacturers choose the name of your car?

Nomen CEO Marcel Botton knows what your next car will be called. Photo Name

“For a long time, cars have had international, often even global, careers. Therefore, most car names are international in nature. Make no mistake, we have about a thousand correspondents in more than a hundred countries. So we can query them before confirming the name.

Our mission is to find the name for your next car, but also to ensure that the name is suitable for all countries or all languages,” says Marcel Botton, managing director of the naming and creation agency Nomen.

Appropriate names around the world

Marcel Botton: “We receive interviews from up to 70 different countries. In the past, some cars ended up with inappropriate names for many reasons. Manufacturers later realized the significance of the name. They pay attention to these types of issues.

So our first task is to find a suitable name. That is, a name that is not ridiculous in one of the languages. »

Be careful in some countries, some numbers have meaning.  Photo of Peugeot

Be careful in some countries, some numbers have meaning. Photo of Peugeot

Names or numbers?

MB: “One of the great things about numbers is that they are the same all over the world. Take the Peugeot 208, as it will be called in all countries. Even in China or Japan, the numbers are the same.

Taking a cue from Peugeot, they added a 0 to move to a four-digit designation and thus differentiate the SUVs from the rest of the range. But be careful, because four numbers can have a special meaning, for example in China. »

Names available

MB: “One of the biggest challenges in our profession is finding an existing name. Builders file their names in advance. They are ahead of a number of appeals.

There is a good code of conduct among car manufacturers. Generally, a registered name that has not been used for five years is deemed to be re-usable by any other trademark. »

Should names have meaning?

MB: “Car names don’t necessarily mean anything. Take Yaris, it has no special meaning but is pronounced all over the world and has no hidden meaning.

In Europe alone, we have 27 different languages, including Hungarian, which is far from French, Italian or Spanish. The Greco-Latin languages ​​are closer to the Anglo-Saxon languages ​​than you might think, with over 6,000 matching names.

Some names really work without knowing why, like Renault’s Clio. »

Name selection often begins several years before the car is launched.  Image Adobe Stock

Name selection often begins several years before the car is launched. Image Adobe Stock

What is the process of choosing a name?

MB: “To name a model, we will start with several hundred names. They are creatives with names, but they are also computers.

To make it easier to pronounce the name, we start sorting by the number of syllables according to the specifications. We will also remove the names that make “laundry name” from the list.

At the current stage, there are about a hundred offers left. We will be able to check which ones are free. Then about forty will remain. Thirty names will be presented to the manufacturer.

Generally, it is the manufacturer’s internal committee that will choose the final appeal. »

Female or male, how to choose the gender of the car?

MB: “This is a real topic. Some manufacturers actually insist that such a model is a girl or a boy. There are certain rules about SUVs that are often said to be men’s cars. We are talking about the Kadjar, or 3008 when we say 308 for the sedan.

There may be exceptions, and it may also be in the manufacturer’s specifications initially for the choice of name. »

Why don’t some names like Megane or Clio change?

MB: “Choosing a name three years in advance involves planning. Avoid trendy names as they can quickly become outdated. Applying and choosing a name is a complicated, lengthy and expensive process that is a source of litigation.

If you have a brand that works, it’s in your best interest to maintain it. Take Corolla, Golf, Clio, these are the names we immediately identify with. Conversely, if a manufacturer really wants to turn the page with an entirely new model, it can bet on a new name. »

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