Tag Archives: beauty and cosmetic copy translators

What Beauty Brand Names Actually Mean

Make a game of it: try to guess what these beauty brand names actually mean.  Not easy!

Benefit

benefit-640x400

This international favorite started out as a small family venture, when American sisters Jean and Jane Ford created a modest beauty boutique in Indiana in 1976. The boutique, called The Face Place continued to get increasingly popular, attracting worldwide attention. It wasn’t until 1990, when the beauty brand was expanding globally that the sisters decided to come up with a new name. Dreamed up on a flight home from Italy, Jane wanted to incorporate the word ‘Bene’ (Italian for good) into the brand’s new title, and so Benefit was born.

Ciaté

Stands for Colour, Innovation, Aspiration, Trend, and Extraordinary. The acronym is a much better fit on a any label!

Clé De Peau Beauté

A brand that originated in Japan in 1982, Clé de Peau Beauté translates as “the key to beautiful skin.”

GHD

This leading haircare brand has probably the most fun name of all: Good Hair Day.

MAC

First established in a Toronto salon, MAC started off as a make-up-artist-only brand and wasn’t launched to the public until 1984, once it had won over models, editors and photographers alike.  Its meaning is simply Make-Up Artist Cosmetics.

Maybelline

Founded in 1913, Maybelline is named after creator Thomas William’s sister. According to the brand, Maybel used to use petroleum jelly on her lashes and brows. Chemist Williams whipped up some carbon dust to mix with the jelly for a darker shade and increased effect.

Nars

nars

This is the namesake of founder François Nars, who launched his brand in 1995 at Barney’s in New York.

Nivea

Initially set up way back in 1890, Nivea’s name is derived from the Latin ‘nix, nivis’, which means ‘white as snow’ and refers to the company’s first major product, the pure white NIVEA Creme.

Nuxe

NUXE was started in 1989 by French entrepreneur Aliza Jabes and is a combination of the words “Nature” and “Luxury”.

NYX

Nyx (pronounced like ‘nicks’) is named after the Greek goddess of night.

Ouai

If you haven’t heard of this brand yet, you will. The hair-care line, developed by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, hits shelves in 2016 — and its name is a bit of a puzzle. But that’s just the way Atkin likes it. “I wanted you to be at a lunch with your friend, and they mispronounce it and you say, ‘No, it’s Ouai,'” Atkin said at the launch event. (Say it with us now: “WAY.”)

The actual meaning? It comes from the French word “ouais,” which is a casual way of saying “yes,” like “yep” or “yup.” Atkin dropped the “s” to make it look Hawaiian, which reflects her island upbringing. Check back with us in January to see images of the new collection.

 L’Oréal

In 1907, L’Oréal founder Eugène Schueller created the first hair dye formula which he called L’Auréale after a fashionable hairstyle at the time called L’Auréole meaning ‘halo’. The spelling was later changed to the name we know it as today.

OPI

bs_opi_collection3

This catchy brand name is actually the acronym of: Odontorium Products Inc. Not easy to pronounce, right? The brand was originally a dental-equipment company.

Ren

Ren means clean in Swedish.

Rimmel

Launched in 1834 by Eugene Rimmel, this brand was originally set up as a perfumery although its owner started creating make-up products about a year later.  His exploits included the creation of one of the most popular and useful inventions ever: the mascara.

SEPHORA

A publicist for the brand explains that “Sephora” is a combination of the name “Zipporah,” the wife of Moses in the Book of Exodus who was renowned for her exceptional beauty, and “sephosis,” the Greek term attributed to beauty and vanity.

SK-II

The meaning behind the Japanese cult brand’s name is top secret… literally. It stands for ‘Secret Key’ which is what the skincare line was originally going to be called as the scientists were on a quest to find the ‘secret key’ to crystal clear skin. In their research, they found the answer by surprise.

Stila

This name is a derivative of the Italian word “stilare,” which means “to pen,” then A+ to you, friend.

The name comes from the brand’s ethos: “The right makeup can turn even the simplest look into a statement as authentic as your signature.” This eyeliner’s the perfect example.

Urban Decay

urbandecay

Here’s a fun experiment. Google “Urban Decay” and check out the image results.

No, you won’t find swatches of Half Baked shadow. Instead, you’ll likely see a collection of post-apocalyptic crumbling buildings. That’s because “Urban Decay” is actually defined as “the decay and deterioration of an urban area due to neglect or age.” A little weird for a makeup brand, no?

UD agrees, crediting this crazy (and now wildly famous) name to its cofounder Sandy Lerner’s former husband. “Everyone was saying it had to be named ‘Urban’ something. Sandy’s husband, who’s totally ‘Mr. Computer Scientist’ — they invented the router and started Cisco Systems together — just said one day, ‘Oh, why don’t you call it Urban Decay?‘ and the name just stuck,” says cofounder Wende Zomnir.

Wen

When launching the company, the founder took the word “new,” flipped it backwards, and came up with Wen. Plus, he liked that it sounded like “zen.”

70-0175

Blast from the Past!

See our Joann in her former life of actress, starring in The Prediction, a 1991 film by Douglas Beer selected for the Rotterdam festival.

Chez colette

We are very proud of our clients on display at the exclusive Colette concept store located in one of the chicest Parisian neighborhoods. Joëlle Ciocco was launched by L’Oréal Paris Global Facial Expert of the same name, who created the famous Epidemiology® Method. Nuori brings its revolutionary skincare concept of optimized product freshness while the breakthrough Colbert MD line is a newcomer to the French market. A favorite of Angelina Jolie and Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Dr. Colbert is known for The Triad Facial, an intense 30-minute treatment combining exfoliation, lasers and a chemical peel.

ciocco_nuori_colbert_Collage

The Importance of Native Speaking Translators

Why is it so important to hire native speakers as translators?  And why is it almost a twofold obligation when translating beauty care and cosmetic copy?

New translation buyers may not be aware of this, but professional translators work into their native language only.  According to the American Translators Association a “translator who flouts this basic rule is likely to be ignorant of other important quality issues as well”.

If a document needs to be translated into English, it has to be given to native English speakers, and not a French, Spanish or German translator, however skilled a professional he or she may be.  Granted, English has become a global lingua franca or a universal language, but that does not mean that non native speakers, even those who have mastered it orally, will be able to write flawless, print-ready copy.

Smiling-Woman-with-German-Flag

Eventually their language-specific reflexes will gain the upper hand and the produced English translation will irrefutably end up peppered with pesky little inconsistencies and erratic expressions.  The end result will be no less than annoying to the intended reader and also potential customer.

A good example from French to English translations involves the very basic word “skin”.  In French, it is frequently used in its plural form to point to many different types of skin.  So the French refer quite naturally to “les peaux matures” et “les peaux sèches et normales”, while in English “skin” must at all times remain in singular.

A non native translator working into English may, however, get carried away and say “With its unique composition, this spring water is capable of soothing even the most irritated skins” or “sensitive skins often age at a faster rate than other skins”, which, to put it mildly, has a skin-crawling (pardon the pun) effect from all points of view.  This is exactly the type of translation faux pas – be it in a website, brochure, product description, press release or other – that raises red flags, tipping your readers off that there just may be something amiss with the broader picture.

Let’s look at the wider ramifications. Cosmetics and beauty care products are designed to bring glamour and luxury to everyday life.  As L’Oréal puts it, they “pamper the soul”, influencing the relationship we have with ourselves, improving our self-acceptance and self-image, and not just the way others perceive us.  Because of the importance of physical appearance in our developed societies, cosmetics enjoy an increasingly higher status.  They represent our striving for excellence, perfection and beauty.  It is therefore essential that they reflect equally high standards of quality.  And hence we see the enormous strategic implications of product branding, image and positioning.

frenchman-200x300As an extension of advertising and marketing communication strategy, translation of cosmetic copy cannot afford to be shabby or substandard.  Even smaller companies just barely on the verge of breaking into international markets should think carefully about spending a little extra on professional translation services, especially for documents used for publication and likely to reach a greater public.

That money will be well spent; it will prove that they care about their products and their customers.  It makes perfect sense.  Why should a customer trust a company that claims to have in-depth scientific expertise but is not able or not willing to advertise it in a way that is on a par with its capabilities?  First impressions are lasting impressions and people make snap judgments on small details.

Please visit us on our Facebook page if you’d like to leave a comment.

Beyond Beauty Paris 2011

bb paris 2011 v 2The latest edition of Beyond Beauty, a leading cosmetic trade show held every year in Paris, took place September 12-14, 2011.   The event hosts three shows under one roof: Cosmeeting focusing on cosmetic brands; Creative, which brings together suppliers; and Spameeting for the spa and salons sectors. In 2011, the “three-exhibitions-in-one” formula attracted 22,230 visitors (up by 14%) and 450 exhibitors representing 90 countries.

Beyond Beauty Paris also offered trend laboratories, conference cycles and master classes featuring more than 50 speakers.  Beyond Beauty’s Zoom area spotlights emerging international brands and has served as a launch pad for many new concepts.  The Beauty Challengers Awards of 2011 honored several of them, including Alorée with the “Beauty Organic Award,” Fleurs de Bach with the “Beauty Pharma Award” and Less is More with the “Beauty blog favorite.”

The trade show will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2012.

bb paris 2011 v3