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When Millward Brown becomes a tongue twister

by Nigel Hollis | September 26, 2012

Until recently I had not thought too much about the difficulty that pronouncing the name “Millward Brown” might give some people. This is hardly surprising given that I am British by origin and once upon a time worked with both Maurice Millward and Gordon Brown. But the name turns out to be far from easy to pronounce if your native language is Spanish, Korean or Japanese.

In researching the origins of familiar brand names for an article in The Atlantic, I asked my colleagues, “How is the name Millward Brown mispronounced?” It turns out that there are many potential variations on the name. Here are some of them:

Millwood Brown (USA)

Millword Brown (India)

Milguar Braun (Mexico)

Milardi Braun (Brazil)

Mirrward Bran (Kenya)

While “Millward” proves to be the more difficult to pronounce of our two founders' names, “Brown” has caused confusion with the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Defaulting to the easier to pronounce “MB” also proves to have challenges, risking confusion with a children’s toy brand in France and even the President of Korea.

All of which proves how difficult it is to take a brand name global. To explore the origins of familiar brand names, and the reasons why Ikea’s product names cause people to blush in Thailand, read my article in The Atlantic "What's in a 品牌? How to Name a Company in a Global Economy."


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  1. Meron Wambui, October 01, 2012
    Your name is pretty difficult to pronounce especially if one still has an accent.

    QUESTION; what is your identity even with all those other names that almost sound like yours? As in what makes yours different?
  2. Alex garnica, September 27, 2012
    I agree about the difficulty on your name for us non-english speakers. Question: if MB would happen to be your client, wouldn't you recommend a brand name change/adjustment?

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