Weblog Bas – Why coming up with the right name is art

Skoda Kodiaq

I come across Manfred Gotta again in the magazines. Great guy. Invented a new business, making up car names, and became incredibly successful at it because the industry was smart enough to see the point. Gotta is still active at the age of 76 and you can see his customers on the Gotta Brands site; Smart and Mercedes, Opel, Porsche, Renault and Sony.

Gotta became a hit because he understood something. A name is not a formality. It’s a sign, a trademark. It must fit sonically and psychologically. Too weighty is a flag on the mud barge if the product does not have the associated prestige (think Ssangyong Chairman), a wrong cast hits like a pincer on Dirk. The large, not harmless Kodiak bear does not seem to me to be the most appropriate association for the largest Skoda SUV. That brand is too peaceful for that. With the Kodiaq you don’t go out to shoot bears on the weekends. You will make friends, have parties, have a barbecue, play football and swim. The current Skoda commercial shows it so well that you immediately feel like living a well-organized, bourgeois life. The next Kodiaq should be called Dvorák, after the great Czech composer of an oeuvre that draws the biggest grumps out of shit. Same sound byte, better atmosphere.

The requirements vary from brand to brand. A Smart cannot be called Senator and a Rolls cannot be called Panda. Every good car name contains a piece of marketing, a piece of psychoanalysis and a piece of brand DNA. You characterize the object. Gotta, who sniffed cars from top to bottom in preparation for his search for the right word, looked for the soul of a car. For Opel he came up with the modern, agile names of the Vectra, Calibra and Agila, for VW the hit Corrado, for Smart fortwo and forfour, how simple can it be – exactly what it is, two or four doors. Twingo is brilliant because no other city car is called that and because it sounds so friendly when the model presents itself. Panamera, also a Gotta classic, sounds as long and stretched as the car and cleverly links to the historic Carrera Panamericana race in which Porsche once achieved victories. It’s a bull’s-eye in every respect.

Given the number of incorrect names in the current model range, the automotive world is in need of a new Gotta, although Manfred Gotta must also have guessed wrong at times. There were always unfortunate names. We don’t have to talk about Croma again, but Avenger for such a lame plug-in device based on Stellantis is really not possible; that’s like calling a chihuaha Hector. The name Tonale is as characterless as the Alfa that should never have been created. That e-tron from Audi sounds like a microwave or a forgotten concept album from a synthesizer group in 1975. Bentley names are sad. Continental and Brooklands are acceptable in their solid Britishness, but Arnage hangs like a drip from a freshly painted window frame and Bentayga, apart from all the wrong associations with the wrong rappers, is an incredibly ugly word. At Ford, Kuga is like a swear word in an unknown language. No matter how kindly you say it, it always brings to mind gagging and disgust.

Fortunately, many brands opt for neutral number-letter combinations, although these are not necessarily the saving solution. At Mazda, Honda and Toyota they anonymize the range. It becomes one big mess of meaningless codes. In the no man’s land of CX-3 or MX-30 you quickly lose track, and after Bz4X and e:Ny1 even the sheepish Solterra is a relief. E-HS9 is a great model code for a North Korean cruise missile, but a mockery for a Chinese brand that hopes to cheat the people out of a ton with Rolls styling. EQE sounds like nothing because it is an abbreviation of nothing. Exactly the car, head and tail. Conversely, numbers with meaning can become real, magical words. So 911 became Elfer or Neun-Elfer and real BMWs became Dreier and Fünfer. Then as a manufacturer you are where you need to be. Then some stupid number has created its own myth.

But then you are talking about a brand of standing. Most manufacturers, especially the startups and the small ones, just fiddle around through trial and error. At BYD, Tang is a drama because of the nasty associations, Dolphin is more like a boat than a car. At Daihatsu, Levorg is a gurgling slip and Impreza sounds just as good as the car, especially when 555 or WRX follows. Who are doing well? The people of Lamborghini. Murciélago and Aventador are sharp, outspoken, cruel-sounding names that reflect the Gotta spirit, although as far as I know they are not from his name. What would Gotta call herself? I’m betting on Gotcha!

– Thanks for information from Autoweek.nl

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