Lisa Merriam

Funny Brand Names: This Bimbo Isn’t Stupid

Brand names often don’t “travel”. What works in one language often does not work in another. And that makes for funny brand names. (see the recent post on Putzmeister).

But a funny brand name can actually be effective.

Take the case of Bimbo Bakeries. Most brand consultants would advise adopting a new name for the U.S. market because of the word’s association with stupid women of loose moral character. But Bimbo executives are standing firm. The Bimbo brand strategy might just work.

Bimbo is a Mexican brand with tremendous positive equity from the Tijuana to Terra del Fuego. The company has entered the U.S. market in cities with large Hispanic populations, people who already know and love the Bimbo brand. With a solid base of support, the brand has a running start.

Bimbo ads and packaging in the U.S. put an emphasis of Bimbo the Bear. Getting consumers to think of cuddly kid-friendly bears before they think of busty airheads is a big job. The ads seek to help with proper pronunciation, suggesting “Say Beembo”.

Embracing a funny brand names like Bimbo can be risky. A Google images search on the keyword “Bimbo” gets you twice as many busty girls in bikinis than it will loaves of bread. The Bimbo ads with the “Pack and Sandwich and a Hug” tagline might suggest too much. Still, standing out on the crowded supermarket shelf isn’t easy. Having a name that makes people stop, even if it is to stop and snicker, could be a good thing. Of course, it would be particularly funny if Bimbo were to be merchandised next to Holsum…


Update: Since this post, the Bimbo brand has gotten full length articles discussing its funny name in the Philadelphia Enquirer and Chicago Tribune. When is the last time Wonder Bread got that kind of exposure. This funny name WORKS!

Naming How-To:

Naming Mistakes
Six Factors for a Memorable and Motivating Name
History of Best Known Brands
Styles and Types of Brands
Choosing a Name
Try a Recycled Name
Web 2.0 Naming Considerations
What is Brand Architecture
Approaches to Brand Architecture
Brand Architecture and Business Strategy

Companies and Products:

MSNBC vs. and The Bigger Naming Problem
Macy’s Blunder with Marshall Field’s Name Change
Banks and the Name Game from Bank Marketing Magazine
AIG Name Change to AIU
Breaking Up the Motorola Brand
Google’s Speedbook Disaster
Renaming a Small Business
Proxios CEO Talks About Renaming Process
Naming a Green Sportswear Company
Unintentionally Funny Names-BARF
Unintentionally Funny Names-Putzmeister
Unintentionally Funny Names-Bimbo
Renaming a $2 Billion IPG Agency
Renaming Iraqi Freedom
Selected Naming Portfolio