On the surface, the name Bimbo is bouncy and cute but it instantly draws obvious negative associations to the word. No matter where the word is looked up there is not one quality or applicable meaning found. There is also no Spanish meaning of the word despite the company being from Mexico. Here are the three and only three definitions for the word “bimbo” found at Dictionary.com:
- A foolish, stupid, or inept person.
- A man or fellow, often a disreputable or contemptible one.
- An attractive but stupid young woman, especially one with loose morals.
Apple’s computer dictionary defines Bimbo as:
An attractive but empty-headed young woman, esp. one perceived as a willing sex object.
A brand should always represent strength, value and reliance. If I were to go to the grocery store and see the brand “Bimbo” slapped on a box of pastries, it is doubtful I would choose their product over the stacks of others surrounding it. Why? Not only would I not trust a company shouting insults at me but also I would probably be a bit skeptical of the taste and quality of the pastries. I can then imagine myself sitting down consuming the pastries, thinking of myself as a bimbo for buying such sweet and fattening foods. It is a no-win situation for me and I would be likely to quickly pass it up with a giggle.
Using the name Bimbo in the United States also sets the company up for a major positioning distraction, an unnecessary marketing obstacle that detracts from the company’s true agenda of selling bread. While the company works hard and spends millions of dollars to eradicate the negative connotations of their name, they are creating a position in the minds of their prospect that is unrelated to bakery goods, which can devalue their product by neglecting it. Here is one sign that depicts the company’s strategy to get Americans to pronounce their name right:
Even this tactic I would propose is not very affective, only because “bimbo” is already an English word that is too familiar in the American mind. They will see the name again and pronounce it the way they know to be correct.
If the issue of pronunciation is so important that the name must be spelled out differently than the actual brand’s spelling, then perhaps using the correctly pronounced spelling would be more wise, if only in the territory where it is confused, which could then turn into another marketing mess. It would have been best to completely avoid or change the company name that has such solid negative meaning in such a global and sweeping dialect as the English language.
On their U.S. website at www.BimboUSA.com (which of itself sounds derogatory of the USA) they describe their values:
“Our company values are strong. We start by valuing the person and seeing others as people not things.”
Why is this statement even necessary for a bakery business? It seems almost as a reply to their disparaging name, since the common definition of Bimbo is a loose woman perceived as a willing sex object; a thing. If a company finds itself having to authenticate or defend the meaning of its company name then it would be best that the company chooses a different, more self-evident name, and one that works positively for its own good. Even if this means changing the name in one country to be more respectful of the language, which should have been avoided in the first place by ensuring the name translates well in all prospect locations.
A new company should always begin with the sensibility of possible future expansion in the back of its tiny startup mind. Had Bimbo considered their English meaning they may have ended up with a different, more universally accepted name. It’s about being prudent in every move a business makes. Take Brandroot for example. Currently we offer resources on naming a business and a catalogue of brand-style .com domain names. In the future it could be possible that we begin offering other branding related services or products, so if we had chosen a name like NameMonkey, which really was an option we had considered, the name would have held us back from moving into other branding fields or would have at least presented a marketing challenge, one in which we would have to make clear that we don’t just offer help for names.