Onomatopoeia Marketing: E-Yes!

The Volkswagen E-Up!

An article in yesterday's edition of USA Today announced Volkswagen's newest edition to their fleet, an electric car that is presently known as the E-Up!  It states: "Volkswagen is already calling it the "Beetle of the 21st Century."

My first car in 1977 was an "old" 1968 Volkswagen Beetle.  I loved that car.  It took me all summer, but I managed to save the necessary $800 to buy it before heading back to college in the fall.  800 bucks – now that's value!

My Beetle was fuel efficient, fun to drive, easy to repair, and in a '70's kind of way – it was cool!  Today I drive a VW Eos.  It has many of the same qualities that my Beetle had, along with the one highly desirable feature I have always longed for – it's a convertible.  Even the name of the Eos is appropriate.  Eos is the goddess of dawn – the one each morning who opens the gates of Heaven for the Sun's chariot.  That's pretty cool too.  

2009 Silver VW Eos

There is no question in my mind that "German Engineering" is making a renaissance through the VW brand.  I've owned BMW's and Audi's and I can say with certainty that my Volkswagen is a one heck of a value compared to its German cousins.  Sure, it may not have all of the raw power, but it is responsive, has a nice look and feel, and is less than half the price!  Now that's something to fall in love with in these challenging economic times.

But what's up with that name? E-Up! It sounds like something you do prior to or in place of throwing up!  Just saying it makes me nauseous.  This name is the epitome of onomatopoeia marketing gone wrong. Onomatopoeia isn't a word we use everyday, so I may need to remind a few readers that onomatopoeia is defined as "a word that imitates the sound it represents."  Excellent examples of onomatopoeia in marketing include the use of the word BOOM! – which has probably been used too many times to mention.  The most notable use of onomatopoeia in modern marketing has been the use of Snap, Crackle, and POP! to describe the sound Rice Krispies make when you pour milk over them.

Today I worked with a client who is marketing a new book, and we both agreed people do indeed judge a book by its cover.  They also judge a car by its moniker.  Remember the Edsel?

I'm not sure what kind of car the E-Up! will be, but it seems promising.  I can only hope those German engineers have the sense to counsel with their Italian neighbors to come up with a sexier onomatopoeic name – with my recommendation being: E-YES!  Now that is a car that promises to you places you want to go!

What do you think they should call it?

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  1. My first thought was E-go – but that has some pretty obvious flaws. Likewise, E-Z carries some negative connotations. How about E-co?

  2. E-Co has a nice ring to it, and an obvious implied benefit.

    We can only hope they were floating out E-Up! to test the market, don’t you think?

  3. On the other hand, THEY may have been thinking of Giddy-up! Giddy-up and GO!

  4. Joanne – Excellent insight – that may well be where they are trying to go with this. Thank You! It sure makes sense to me. 🙂

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