When unpronounceable equals memorable
Does it matter if no one can pronounce your brand name?
In Jhpiego’s case, it could be an asset.
A healthcare nonprofit affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, Jhpiego started out in 1973 as an acronym—for “Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics.” But it’s been years since the name was used in its unabbreviated form. You might even have a hard time Googling it.
Jhpiego works with governments, local communities, healthcare providers and other NGOs in 36 countries to improve women’s health, prevent and treat disease and strengthen health systems. In a short video, a who’s who of headline entertainers celebrate Jhpiego and its part in building a better world.
“Every two minutes, a women dies in pregnancy,” Amy Schumer says, her face filling the screen, eyes focused unwaveringly on the viewer. “And there’s one organization fighting to ensure that every mother survives childbirth.” Will Ferrell notes how Jhpiego “partners with local communities to help build sustainable healthcare solutions for women and their families.”
Others follow, all speaking about Jhpiego with passion, wisdom and eloquence—and then they hit a wall when they try to say the name. Ja-puigo…Ch? Ja-hiu-piegoo? Ji-ga-ju-guaco?
Their stumbles are scripted, of course—part of a funny, yet affecting tribute to an organization doing critically needed work.
Contrast that with Americans’ consistent—and unintended—butchering of iconic European brands like Hermes, Givenchy, Stella Artois, Adidas and Renault. Or the seemingly purposeful weirdness of Flickr, Grindr, Tumblr, Scribd, Blendr, Mndfl, Qzzr and ABRDN. In a Carpenter Group post last April, we wondered whether such tongue-torturing names served to enhance or weaken a brand. We suspect the latter.
But Jhpiego—pronounced ja-pie-go—could well be the exception. Learn how to say it and you’re unlikely to forget it. “Our name is challenging,” says Jordan Peele.
Adds Will Ferrell, “But so is the work we do.”