Decoding the language of Ikea
They’ve baffled non-Swedes for years and become he subject of countlessinternet jokes, but Ikea bosses say their strange-sounding productnames make perfect sense!
They’ve baffled non-Swedes for years and become he subject of countless internet jokes, but Ikea bosses say their strange-sounding product names make perfect sense!
“It all started with Ingvar Kamprad (founder of Ikea) thinking it was too hard to remember products just by their numbers so he started naming everything instead,” said Ylva Magnusson, press manager at Ikea in Sweden.
As Ikea started growing into the giant company it is today, a small team of people were given the task to come up with names for everything in the product line.
A system was worked out. Beds and wardrobes were named after places in Norway, while bookcases were given Scandinavian boys names or named after professions. Bathroom articles were named after Swedish lakes.
But Magnusson added: “Now there is a database where potential names are stored. We have 9,500 products and about 30 per cent are changed every year.
“That’s 3,000 new names every year so it’s really important that the names are not recycled and that we have checked and cleared names that might be offensive in other languages.”
So why keep the Scandinavian names?
For instance, if the plastic box Samla was named Collect in English, then people might understand the name in other countries.
“But, at the same time, the names are seen as exotic in many places. And being Swedish is a big part of our soul and brand,” said Masnusson.