In A Few Words: Manfred Gotta

We recently had the opportunity to connect with Germany’s “King of Names”, Manfred Gotta – a worldwide leader in the art and science of naming new products and brands.

After building up Interbrand Deutschland, Manfred founded his company, Gotta Brands, in 1986.  Working from an idyllic Black Forest valley, Manfred has created such well known names as: Porsche Cayenne, Renault Mégane, Targobank, Opel Vectra, Persil Megaperls, and many more.

Here are a few (Mega?) pearls of wisdom Manfred shared…

…on why choosing (or creating) the right name for a brand is so important to company and product success:

Choosing the right company or product name is vital, because it incorporates all investments.  If P&G buys Blendax it needs neither the factories nor the people in order to continue marketing this brand successfully – it’s the name that counts.

…on advice for companies naming a new brand for multiple countries or regions:

I would advise them to check how the name sounds in languages used in any of their important countries and to register it under trademark law – successful expansion in the future would also be assured by doing so.

…on the most important factors to consider, in measuring the ‘global-readiness’ of a potential brand name:

It should be unique, linguistically inoffensive and capable of being protected.

…on how he caught the naming bug:

That’s a long story.  I once created a name for cat food: Katzenschmaus [“cat feast”].  Everyone thought it was a good name because it said what the product was.  But the problem became obvious when it came to international marketing.  The name was unpronounceable in many countries and could not be protected.  Afterwards, I analysed lots of names and realised that names do not need to have a concrete meaning.

Having understood this, I then became self-employed.

…on the greatest challenge in creating brand names:

For me, the most interesting challenges are genuine innovations – for example a completely new car transmission system. The name of an innovation stands not only for a product but for the whole segment.

Tiptronic from Porsche would be a completely new “Schaltgefühl” [“shift feel”].  Megaperls from Henkel now represent “Waschmittel in Kügelchenform” [“sphere-shaped detergent”].  It always pays off to be the first – do you remember who won the silver medal as runner-up to Usain Bolt at the last Olympic Games?

…on his naming creative process:

I prefer to create a completely new name, which will be “understood” in the same way globally.  If I say:

Ist ein neuartiger zweifarbiger Diamant [is a new two-tone diamond]

I can translate the explanation of the name into any language so that TIONY consistently has the same meaning and is thus understood.

…on brand naming faux pas:

The most recent case was the car name “MIEF” from Mitsubishi for a zero-emission electric car.  In Germany “MIEF” means a bad smell!

A simple check of the German language would have been enough to prevent this name from being used.