Brand Names You Might Be Pronouncing Wrong
Globalization has spread popular and well-known brands beyond their national borders. These days, it’s not unusual to drive a car made in South Korea, wear a watch made in Switzerland, drink beer brewed in Belgium, carry a handbag made in France or use a Chinese smartphone.
But, sometimes, the correct way to say a company’s name didn’t also cross borders. Here are 24 well-known global brands that people often don’t know how to pronounce, and a guide to how to say them correctly.
Adobe is an American multinational company that makes printing, publishing and graphics software. Adobe was a driving force behind desktop publishing.
Adobe is pronounced as “ah-doh-bee.” The E on the end of the name should be spoken. It’s not “ah-dobe.”
Bayer is a 150-year-old German multinational pharmaceutical company that develops and sells products in the areas of health care, veterinary science and agriculture. Bayer is best known for its brand of aspirin, which it has been selling for 120 years.
Many people assume that Bayer must sound like “bare” or “bay-er.” Bayer is pronounced the way the Germans say it: “buy-er.”
Dom Perignon is a prestige vintage champagne made by the House of Moet & Chandon. The wine is named after Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk who was the cellar master of the Abbey of Hautvillers in the 17th century. He developed innovative techniques for winemaking and blending, and pioneered the use of corks and thick bottles for making champagne.
Dom Perignon is pronounced as “dom peh-ree-nyon.”The G is silent, so it’s not “dom per-ig-non.”
Ruinart is the world’s oldest champagne brand, founded in 1729. Dom Thierry Ruinart was a monk and winemaker, who collaborated with Dom Perignon, to learn the secrets of making champagne. The monk’s nephew, Nicolas Ruinart, established the first champagne house.
Dom Ruinart is pronounced as “dom rwee-nar” not “dom ruin-art.”
Ermenegildo Zegna is an Italian luxury men’s fashion label. The name comes from the company’s founder, who, in 1910, set up a wool mill in the Alpine foothills of the city of Trivero. The Zegna brand, now based in Milan, Italy, has over 550 stores globally, annual revenue in the billions, and is considered the largest menswear brand in the world.
Ermenegildo Zegna is pronounced by saying (as the Italians do) “er-men-i-jildo zeh-nya.”
The French fashion house Hermes was founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermes as a harness workshop, making bridles and saddles for horses. The company started making handbags and its iconic silk scarves in the 1950s, and has since become a well-known luxury fashion, home goods and accessory retailer. Hermes is best known for its famous Kelly and Birkin bags.
Hermes is pronounced as “air-mez,” not as “her-meez.” The H at the beginning of the name is silent.
Hoegaarden is a Belgian wheat beer, based on a recipe developed in the 15th century by monks in the town of Hoegaarden who added orange peel and coriander to their sour beer to improve the flavor. By the 18th century, the town industry was beer, with over 36 breweries and 100 malt houses. After the last brewery closed in 1957, a village milkman took over brewing the monks’ beer and created the current brand that he named after the town.
Hoegaarden is pronounced as “who-gar-den,” not “ho-gar-den.”
Established in 1987, Huawei is a Chinese information and communications technology company that makes phones, laptops, tablets and other smart devices and accessories. The company operates globally in over 170 countries and regions.
Huawei is pronounced as “wah-way,” not “high-ah-way.”
Hublot is a Swiss maker of luxury watches with a minimalist black dial, shaped like portholes (the word hublot means “porthole” in French) that combine unusual materials, such as gold and rubber. The watchband conforms to any wearer’s wrist, so Hublot is a popular brand with athletes and sportspeople.
Hublot is pronounced as “oo-blow,” not “hub-lot” or “hoo-blo. The H at the start is silent.
Established in 1967, the Hyundai Motor Company is South Korea’s largest automobile manufacturer and has grown to become the fifth largest automaker in the world. The company started out making budget-priced economy cars, and now makes sedans, SUVs, trucks and buses, as well as next-generation electric and hydrogen-fueled cars.
Hyundai is pronounced as “hun-day” not “hi-un-dye.”
IKEA is the world’s largest home goods retailer, popular for its inexpensive, flat-packed, self-assembly furniture, and for its massive blue and yellow stores. Founded in Sweden in 1943 as a small mail-order catalog business by Ingvar Kamprad, the company now has over 300 stores worldwide. The name IKEA is an acronym made from the founder’s name and the names of his family farm (Elmtaryd) and his home village (Agunnaryd).
IKEA is pronounced as “ih-key-yah,” not “eye-key-ah.”
Meile is a popular home appliance company that makes dishwashers, ovens, refrigerators, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and more. The company was founded in Germany in 1899 by engineer Carl Miele and businessman Reinhard Zinkann, who first set up Miele to make cream separators.
Miele is pronounced as “mee-luh,” not “mee-lee.”
Miu Miu is a high-fashion brand owned by Prada and known for its younger, more daring avant-garde style. Miu Miu was founded by a member of the Prada family, Miuccia Prada, in 1992, and uses her family nickname.
Miu Miu is correctly pronounced as “mew-mew” not “mee-oo mee-oo.”
Moschino is a luxury Italian fashion brand that makes both men’s and women’s clothes, shoes and accessories. The company was started by Franco Moschino in 1983 after he left a job with the Gianni Versace fashion house to start his own label.
Moschino is pronounced as “mos-key-no,” with a hard C. It’s not “moh-shee-no.”
Nutella is the wildly successful invention of the Italian Ferrero family, who built a small confectionery business in Alba, Italy, into a global multinational company. Nutella was developed as a result of a chocolate shortage after World War II. The family started adding local hazelnuts and vegetable oil to the chocolate to create a spreadable product they called Nutella.
Nutella is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable, as “new-tell-uh,” not “nuh-TELL-uh.”
Porsche is a German maker of high-end, top-performance sports cars. Porsche began as an engineering consulting company in the automotive field, before starting to make cars in 1948 under the company’s own name and logo. The company took its name from founder Ferdinand Porsche, who also helped to develop the Volkswagen (another commonly mispronounced car name).
Porsche is pronounced as “por-shuh,” not “porsh.”
Ralph Lauren is a designer best known for using military and Western looks, as well as the American flag, in his fashions. The Ralph Lauren brand now includes everything from fashion and accessories to home goods to restaurants and coffee shops.
Even though Ralph Lauren is an American fashion brand, many people still don’t say his name correctly.
Ralph Lauren is pronounced as “ralf lor-en,” with the emphasis on the middle syllable. It’s not “ralf lor-EN.”
Renaultis a French maker of cars and vans founded by the Renault brothers in 1898. The company is known for its involvement in automobile racing, for which the company developed several technical innovations, such as the first two-cylinder engine and the direct drive gearbox.
Renault is pronounced as “re-no.” Say the A and U together as an O sound, and ignore the final L and T.
Schwarzkopf is a well-known brand of hair care products. Hans Schwarzkopf started the company in Germany in 1898. Schwarzkopf means “black head” in German. He created the first hair wash powder, and over the next 120 years the Schwarzkopf brand created a wide range of hair color, styling and care products.
Schwartzkopf is pronounced “shwarts-kawpf” not as “shwarts-kof.”
Stella Artois is a Belgian brand of pilsner and the best-selling beer in its home country. Stella Artois was first made by Sebastien Artois as a Christmas beer that he called “Stella,” or “Star” in Latin, and sold only to locals. The beer is now exported around the world and brewed in the UK and Australia, as well as in Belgium.
Stella Artois is pronounced as “stell-ah ar-twa,” not “stell-ah ar-twahs.”
TAG Heuer is a Swiss luxury watch brand that has a long association with sports timing and automobile racing. The company developed the first mechanical stopwatch that measured 1/100th of a second, revolutionizing sports timekeeping and becoming the official stopwatch supplier to the 1920 Olympics.
It was also the first Swiss watch to go into space: Astronaut John Glenn wore a Heuer 2915S stopwatch during his orbit of the Earth in 1962.
TAG Heuer is pronounced as “tag haw-yer,” not “tag hew-air.”
The Volkswagen Group, or Volkswagen AG, is a German car company that was set up in 1937 by the German Labour Front, a Nazi organization, to make a low-priced “people’s car” that everyone could afford. The Volkswagen brand is now one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world, and is most famous for its classic Beetle car.
Volkswagen is pronounced as “folks-va-gun,” not “vokes-wagon.”
Zara is one of the largest international fashion brands in the world, and was established in Galicia, Spain, in 1975. Zara is a global icon in the world of fast fashion, with more than 2,220 stores in 88 countries around the world.
Zara is pronounced as “dzah-dah” or even “saa-daa,” not “za-ra.”
The German sportswear company makes Adidas and Reebok brands of shoes, clothing and sportswear. Adidas isn’t a word or a proper name: It’s a hybrid taken from an actual person’s first and last names. The founder of Adidas was a man called Adolf Dassler and his nickname was Adi. Adidas is simply a combination of Adi combined with Das for Dassler. The result? AdiDas, or Adidas.
Adidas is pronounced “ah-dee-dahs,”* with the emphasis on the first syllable, not “ah-DEE-dus.”
*Source: Forvo, the largest pronunciation dictionary in the world, based on pronunciations by native speakers.