A name creates a discreet identity for a brand just how it does for us

Is it just a random thought which guides the nomenclature of cars or there actually is a lot of pondering and tinkering going on behind the naming process?

From the early sketches to the final production model of a car, the product development team has to go through a grueling process deciding on the looks, engine options, features, optional equipment among others to make sure a consumer gets a high perceived value for the moolah he disburses. However, the journey doesn’t come to a close just there. After the conception of the product and preparing tailor-made plans for the varied markets where the car would witness induction, begins the naming process.

The brand’s name has to be distinct, catchy, crisp and most significantly, one that resonates well with the market. Hence, a smorgasbord of considerations have to be factored in with regards to the naming process. Here are some ways and the process behind naming of a car.

Employing the marketing team

Marketing team of a company has to preside on a name taking several factors into account

Since branding is a part of the marketing process, a company deploys its marketing team to come up with innovative monikers that depict the car’s aura with plenary perfection. They are also told about the company’s policies to be followed with respect to naming. For instance, the marketing personnel at Mercedes-Benz should be cognizant of the fact that ‘normal names’ can’t be followed and they have to follow letters instead. Which is why some prominent names such as the ‘C-Class,’ ‘E-Class,’ and the ‘S-Class’ are used instead of the regular demeanour where words are used for names.

Company tradition

A company cannot afford to forego its tradition for naming its vehicles

They also have to be aware of the company’s tradition. For example, Skoda is known to be using names with the initial ‘K’ for all its recent SUVs-Kamiq, Karoq and Kodiaq which is why, the born in India SUV, Kushaq also has the dominance of the letter ‘K’ in its name.

Body style

2022 Opel Astra
The name should easily nod to the body style of the car, else it might appear out of place

Depending on the body style of the car such as sedan, SUV, hatchback, etc. names are chosen. An SUV is associated with a machine with ‘go-anywhere prowess,’ one that sits high off the ground, has mammoth-like proportions and can seat seven. Hence, the names Land Cruiser or Patrol make sense being slammed at the rear. A creative marketing team can come up with several names which ultimately have to be narrowed down to one. Using the name ‘Zen’ for a pint-sized and moderately fast hatch was received well in the Indian market in the ’90s. Similarly, powerful names such as the Sumo and Safari being tagged on SUVs will make their meaning a whole lot coherent and describe what these cars stand for.

Consumer survey

Skoda Kushaq Front
Skoda had conducted consumer surveys during the development stage of the Kushaq to get insights about their aspirations from a compact SUV

In the recent times, some clever but expensive initiatives such as floating a survey asking the people their preference have been used. Remember the ‘Namakarna’ contest by Hyundai when they were naming the second-gen Santro? It’s the best testament of this experiment in the Indian market. The names then decided upon by the marketing team after twaddling through the answers, are directly trademarked to forbade others from using it. However, trademarks can be bought and sold if required too. For example, the Stellantis group has procured the rights to use the ‘Ambassador’ nameplate for one of its upcoming cars which might be launched in India.

Foreign factors

2020 Honda Jazz Facelift Front
Honda fit is selling in India as the Honda Jazz as the latter would befit much better with the younger generation, for whom this car is meant for

Knowing more dialects and languages is often a boon right? However, ask a car company and you might be left wandering in katzenjammer about this notion. The de facto scene is that linguistic barriers stir up an obscene scenario for launching a car with an identical name in varied markets as it might convey a different meaning to the audience. Hence, the name has to be changed to suit the culture and tradition of the country where the car is launched.

For example, Toyota’s Kijang SUV came to India as the Qualis. The latter sounds much more in line with the Indian taste than the Japanese derived name, Kijang. Qualis stood for Quality and Service which translated to a high quality product that was low on maintenance costs. Names have to be decided such that there is no ambiguity or slang meaning of those which could lead to backlash from the folks and would be easier to remember and pronounce too.

Taking a base and deriving a name out of it

Hyundai Tucson was named after the Tucson city of Arizona. In this example, a place has been used to serve as the foundation for the car’s name

Many times, a country or an iconic place’s name is used which works as a warp for the car’s name. The Daewoo LeMans, Fiorano used in several Ferrari cars are some good examples to quote. The Hyundai Tucson has been loaned its name from the Tucson city of Arizona. Such strategies can be used to obtain names rapidly and won’t lead to much ridicule as these are based on places. Forsooth, a safe strategy!

Paying heed to the specs sheet and contriving a name

Many a times, names are also based on the specs of the model to be launched

Several automakers, particularly the German and French make use of sheer numbers and letters to assign names to their lineup of cars. Audi uses ‘A’ for all sedans and depending on the sedan class and size, numbers such as ‘3,’ ‘4,’ etc. are assigned. This is followed by grades such as 40TDi, 55 TFSI Quattro, etc. to refer to the variant and whether the car is gasoline or diesel driven and comes with all-wheel drive technology. Using this method to name cars can be simple in the short-run but can morph into an ordeal in the long-run as it can get quite sophisticated and enigmatic.

What are your thoughts on the methodologies companies are generally accustomed to for christening a product’s name and which ones have you found really interesting or funny? Let us know in the comments below.