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Hyundai Kona: Great car – questionable name

The market launch of the new Hyndai Kona, a small city SUV, has exceeded all expectations, especially in its home market South Korea. The stylishly designed vehicle should also have good chances in Europe to prevail against competitors, such as the Opel Mokka, and successfully gain market share.

While a car name such as the “Mokka” can be discussed very well, the choice of the name Kona is demonstrably not a happy one. After all, in Portuguese the term “Cona” is synonymous with a vulgar term for an intimate female body part. Surprisingly, such name-related derailments have occurred again and again in the history of the introduction of new vehicle models. Although the companies are internationally networked and have their branches or partner companies in all countries, an international examination of the proposed names does not always seem to be possible. What has already caused major problems in the past with brand names such as “Pajero” or “MR2” is likely to become a not inconsiderable hurdle for Hyundai, at least in the Portuguese speaking countries. After all, who wants to find vulgar or offensive terms in silver letters on the rear of the car?

Here again, it has been shown that the international examination of new name proposals in terms of trademark law and language, regardless of the industry, is a compulsory task in order to avoid later expensive name changes or the accompanying ridicule in public perception.


Thomas Schiefer as managing director of innomark GmbH comments on brand topics currently under discussion at irregular intervals.

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