The naming of a brand has always been a problem for Chinese companies. Mistranslation of the name of a sexual enhancement product results in stir and marketing dilemma for a Chinese dietary supplement company.
Online PR News – 06-September-2009 – – September 3, 2009
Abacus Chinese Translation Services frequently receives requests from customers who are in trouble, mostly clients who need to have documents translated "right now". This time, on September 1st, 2009, a worried customer, Chong's Health Care, requested them to re-translate or come up with a new name for their male enhancement product "For Her 1-2-3".
"For Her 1-2-3" is a male enhancement dietary supplement composed of Chinese medicinal herbs which are found to have male sexual enhancement effects. For example, one of its main ingredient is Epimedium Grandiflorum, also known as Horny Goat Weed, whose name came from a herder who noticed his goats becoming more sexually active after eating the plant. Another ingredient is Cnidium Fruit, which according to Ray Sahelian, M.D., contains a coumarin compound called osthol or osthole that was found to help relax the corpus cavernosa of the male genitals that would potentially help with blood flow in those with erectile dysfunction. It also contains fennel. According to "Sex Herbs: Nature's Sexual Enhancers for Men and Women" by Beth Ann Petro Roybal and Gayle Skowronski, fennel is used to increase the libido of both men and women, and it has been shown to increase the libido in animal studies using both male and female rats. Fennel contains an estrogen-like substance (estragole) and may thereby increase sexual drive in women. It was considered for use in the 1930s as a source of synthetic estrogen. "In men, fennel may interfere with testosterone, relieving bladder and prostate problems, thereby making sex more enjoyable. Fennel also moderates orgasm, allowing men to enjoy sex longer."
With such a potentially promising product, "For Her 1-2-3" experiences marketing issues because of its name. "We had many customers questioning us whether 'For Her 1-2-3' was for men or for women", says Evan Li, the former marketing manager at Chong's Health Care. "It was extremely problematic because we have to explain to our customers that it was for men only."
Indeed, the name "For Her 1-2-3" may be confusing to most people, thinking that the product is for women. "The name 'For Her 1-2-3' was translated by a former employee of our company. At that time, we did not think about spending money to hire a professional translator or a brand name consultant," says Ana Hou, the manager of the company. "In retrospect, we probably should have done it, because we have spent much time and energy marketing the product, only to get confused customers because of its name."
Chong's Health Care is not the only Chinese company having problems with the name issue. Lenovo, a leading computer maker in China, had similar problems with its former name "Legend", when the company found out that they were not able to trademark the word "Legend" in many countries. In turn, the company had to spend millions of dollars changing the name and then marketing Lenovo as its new brand.
"Compared to Chinese companies, most Japanese companies fared much better," says Samuel Chong, the director of Abacus Chinese Translation Services. "The most prominent example is Sony, whose founding father was said to spent considerable amount of resource and time to make its brand name sound good to English speakers. Now, it is a global company".
So, what is the suggestion of Abacus Chinese Translation Services to the name "For Her 1-2-3"? "We suggested them to explain to their existing clients to take 'For Her 1-2-3' for her, for her pleasure. We also suggested them to add a more clearly represented name 'Ulti-Mate Tiger' on their existing bottle." says Samuel Chong.
"The Chinese name of 'For Her 1-2-3' is excellent. It is 'Zhuang Gen' Chinese, which means 'strong root' in English, with the 'root' having the connotation of the 'root' of a human offspring, i.e. the male genital", says Evan Li, "It is just that we were stirred by the puzzled customers with its name in English."
Chong's Health Care will start promoting "For Her 1-2-3" along with its new name "Ulti-Mate Tiger", hoping to resolve the confusion of potential customers.
"You really don't see a lot of well known Chinese brands in the US, because most of companies in China are manufacturers of companies like Nike and Calvin Klein. They have not yet really started promoting their own brands yet." says Samuel Chong.
"A few companies are lucky, such as Haier, in which the Chinese pinyin of its brand sounds like a German word", says Evan Li. "If I were to start my new company, I would name it ChinaSona or have Abacus Chinese Translation Services to find a good name for us in order not to repeat our previous mistakes."
This article can also be found at http://www.certifiedchinesetranslation.com/09/0903-for-her-for-him-lost-in-translation.html