Today’s post is a translation of an interview from Nomen Italy’s Managing Director Gianluca Billo. In it he discusses the perception of different languages when used in certain industries. Gianluca can be contacted through the Nomen Italy website:

How important is the choice of a language in brand naming?

The choice of a language definitely is fundamental to create a new name. But it is not always as our clients see it. Most companies ask for a short name as if it was the only key to success.

Are there any clear links between language, market, type of industry, and consumers?

There are no clear links between the language and the market (in the sense of country or nation). However, I would say that there are links between the language and the type of industry, and between the language and the consumers. Industries as well as consumers follow specific trends and keep using certain languages for specific sectors: English is usually used for technology, mobile phones and mass market services; French will be used for perfumes and fashion; Italian will come handy in the food industry; and Latin and Greek will be used to name companies (especially international ones).

What types of companies usually require an Italian name? And these days, is there any country that has a clear interest in the Italian language?

In Italy, Italian names work very well for pasta, tomato juice and sauce, and ready to use products (whether they are sweet or savoury) such as pastry and pizza dough; then you can also find Italian names (patronyms, not necessarily real) in the fashion industry (the name of the designer always creates fascination) where the italianità – the Italian way of life with its values, style and codes – creates added value and is known world-wide.

Abroad, the Italian language is very popular in Germany and the United States as it evokes thoughts of delicious and fine food, and of the Italian style (fashion and design). It is also very popular in China and Japan.

Say an Italian company creates a product that will be sold abroad: to what extent is it advisable to use an Italian name? Are there specific cases where you would advise against using an Italian name?

The concept of italianità plays a very important role in industries where Italian names – with their images and sounds – convey a set of values throughout old traditions. By this, I mean the industries that involve creativity applied to materials such as clothing, design, construction, goldsmith, and as I said before a certain number of food products (pasta, wine, olive oil, some cheeses, and sausages and salami). We usually advise against using Italian when it is unnecessary, when the use of the Italian origin is not justified, and when it becomes hard to pronounce (this happens with a lot of Italian words, especially the long ones with many consonants or with complicated combinations of letters, for instance [ch]). The Italian language works well when it is easy to read even if it doesn’t make sense straight away, as long as it is recognizable as an Italian word.

What do you think of Italian-sounding and looking names that are created abroad by non-Italian speakers and that sound clumsy, odd, unnatural and funny to us?

To be fair, those names make me smile. I do understand that the word ‘macaroni’ is much easier to read than maccheroni. Italian people usually try their best to get the spelling of English words right, even if the pronunciation could be better, whereas abroad complicated Italian words are directly “transliterated” and simplified if needed (see the ‘macaroni’ example).