The Difference One Letter Makes: How Global B2B Brand Sodexo Deployed Easy-to-Pronounce Naming Strategy

The Difference One Letter Makes: How Global B2B Brand Sodexo Deployed Easy-to-Pronounce Naming Strategy

Organizational and product naming, particularly for B2B global entities, presents an interesting challenge. We’ve recently written about Ingredion signaling its strategic commitment with its name change. French food services and facilities management company Sodexo underwent a seemingly minor name change that has a big impact on its brand evolution.

B2B Names Must Clear these Three Hurdles

In our global naming work at Insight to Action, we require names to pass several hurdles, including these three:

  1. Easy to pronounce
  2. Appeals to important audiences like customers, employees, shareholders
  3. Conveys meaningful benefits consistent with the company strategy

The bar can be even higher when the name in question is the overall company name, not just a specific product line. Sodexo’s naming strategy provides an instructive case study in the global B2B market.

For Sodexo, Eliminating One Letter Cleared the Way to a New Global Image

Formerly Sodexho, with “ho” standing in abbreviation for “Hotelière,” Sodexo announced it would drop the “h” in an effort to make the name easier for global audiences to pronounce and spell. The strategy passes the naming hurdles:

“The letter ‘h’ has been deleted from the name to support the Group's strategic transformation into a Services company. Because the ‘h’ is often associated with the hotel and foodservices business, particularly in Europe, the change emphasizes the Group's accelerating development in Facilities Management services. In addition to increasing the brand's scope and impact, the simpler, more dynamic name has been found to be easier to pronounce and spell for people around the world.” 

This seemingly-simple name change was a strategically smart move for Sodexo. It maintained existing brand equity while allowing the freedom to expand its global brand strategy.

‘Captique’ Brand Captures Attention in Nine Global Markets

The Difference One Letter Makes: How Global B2B Brand Sodexo Deployed Easy-to-Pronounce Naming StrategyAs another example, Insight to Action was asked to develop a name for an injectable gel used to reduce wrinkles. The healthcare product would be offered through medical professionals like dermatologists and plastic surgeons, so the appeal to both medical professionals and end consumers mattered. The name also needed to be ownable in the U.S., Canada, six European countries and Japan.

Two previous attempts at developing appropriate name candidates were attempted and failed. In the end, we identified five names that were ownable, appealing, easy to pronounce, and communicated the benefits. The client selected the name Captique, which stood out as a sexy, beautiful name that met all the criteria. (Read more about Captique in our naming strategy case study.)

The Difference One Letter Makes: How Global B2B Brand Sodexo Deployed Easy-to-Pronounce Naming Strategy

These two case examples show that choosing a name for global markets can be extremely complex—or deceptively simple. When considering your own global B2B expansion, make sure your chosen name considers the naming hurdles and doesn’t have an unintended translation. You’d hate to be the next iPhone 7 launching among giggles in Hong Kong.

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    Michal Clements

    Michal is co-author of Tuning Into Mom and an experienced consultant. Michal develops winning growth strategies and detailed go to market plans for some of the world’s outstanding organizations including McDonald’s, Gatorade, Abbott, Barilla, Tylenol, Clorox, Key Bank, Eagle Ottawa, Quaker and the Baker Demonstration School.

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