Parents often have a hard time finding the right name for their children. One name may sound old-fashioned. Another may lead to unwanted nicknames, and some will suit one parent but not the other one.
It is much the same with new cars: Recommended names go through a long process until the right one emerges. There is a good reason for this: A model name should not only sound good, but also tell a story. As a result, a name can sound masculine or female, elegant or sporty.
One of the newest members of the Volkswagen family goes by the name of “Arteon.” In just a few days, the dynamic fastback will be unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show. The search to come up with the right name for the car began two years ago when a team of experienced name creators went to work.
“A good name may not produce sales success all by itself. But a bad name can certainly play a role in the failure of a new model. This is why we carefully test every idea.”
The new name “Arteon” is closely related to the Sharan, the Touran and the Tiguan: Just like the names of its siblings in the Volkswagen family, this name is an invented word – a creation consisting of two parts that, taken together, produce a certain connotation. The word “art” is used to describe the harmonious lines and emotionality of the fastback. The ending “eon” identifies the car as a premium model by linking it directly to the Volkswagen Phideon.
“As a rule, we develop the names for our new models with the help of an agency that specializes in name development. This is the approach we took with the Arteon as well.”
The search for the right name is usually conducted in several stages
- In the identification phase, the company's creative minds immerse themselves in information about the vehicle concept, target group and the competition. They then use this information as a basis for a strategy and initial ideas.
- “A tough vetting process follows,” Polland says. “We test the meaning of the names in at least 17 languages – regional dialects are frequently considered as well. Our reason for doing so is obvious: A name should work well not only in Germany, but also in other countries.” The key consideration is to ensure that a name has no negative connotations – in terms of its spelling or its sound.
- Once a name has cleared this language hurdle, it is passed on to brand lawyers for careful scrutiny. “Today, it is much more difficult to provide a name with trademark protection because so many registered brands already exist,” Polland says. A recommendation is passed to the Board of Management only after the suggestion has been approved by the lawyers. Once the name has been added to the board's agenda, its members have the final say, just like mothers and fathers.