Shizens – brand name smarts or fail?


Walking through the shopping centre at the weekend, I couldn’t help but think this must be a joke – unfortunately it’s not.

Malaysian cosmetic brand Shizen (now in Australia) must’ve thought they were on a winner with this name.  The Japanese word conveys much of the brand’s positioning of natural beauty and they secured the dot-com.

The trouble is, as they expanded from Asia to Australia they didn’t consider how the name might be understood.

Pronounced differently, it is a German swear word (commonly understood in Australia and many other countries), and gives the brand a whole new meaning.

Depending on your understanding of the name you get a very different sense of the brand and its benefits. The product either gives you natural lip care or shit lips!

Shizens store

As many of regular readers and clients know, brand naming can be one of the trickiest parts of the branding process. It’s like naming a baby – and you want to give it the best start possible. (read more on brand naming in this earlier blog)

When you find a great name, it is essential to do some basic checking and validation to ensure you can own the name and it will work for the product – not against it.

Researching current usage, trademark searches and business registration is all part of the process we follow, but linguistic and cultural checking is also essential – especially when you extend the brand into new markets.

Clearly Shizens (the brand) didn’t do some basic cultural and linguistic checking before choosing their name. A quick web search brings up the Urban dictionary’s colourful definition of Shizen as one of the first listings.

There also seem to be several other brands trading off the same idea and similar name.

shizen australia

If you need a name for your next product or service, we can help you create it – but most importantly we can make sure the name is ownable, positive and viable.

If you ambitions to go beyond our shores, we can also tap into our global network partners in E3 for cultural and linguistic checks across the globe. It always helps to ask a local if you want to ever sell to them in the future.

Michael Hughes
Director of Brand Strategy
Follow @logiculture



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