British fishermen need to sell more fish locally. That’s because Brexit has made shipping products abroad more difficult. New rules and delays make sales take a dive. What a fine kettle of fish! Their solution? Rebranding. What used to be known as the “megrim sole” and “spider crab” (eww) will now be “Cornish sole” and “Cornish king crab” to bait the local market.
But will a simple name change make the megrim sole or the spider crab more attractive to British consumers? After all, there are plenty of other fish in the sea. And would a fish by any other name smell . . . less fishy?
God created our senses to work together. Research shows that humans “eat with their ears.” Sounds heard while eating or drinking can affect the way people think about food (whether that’s your own chomping or the background music). And when we hear the name of a brand, we form a positive or negative impression of it even before we see the product. Why? Different sounds have symbolic meaning. For example, certain vowels, such as i and e, can lead to an impression that the brands are smaller, lighter, milder, thinner, softer, faster, colder, or friendlier.
Consider this: You’re offered two ice creams, one called “Frosh” and another called “Frish.” Which do you think would be creamier? Psychologists found that most believed “Frosh” would be creamier. Altering one sound made a difference in consumer perception. Brand names are an important part of successful product marketing.
The associations we make with a brand matter too. A tourist destination in the United Kingdom, popular for its beautiful coastline, Cornwall is a “brand” in its own right. When people hear the word “Cornish,” they likely think of the sea and seafood with pleasant associations. So fishermen want to use the name as a promotional hook. “Spider crab,” on the other hand, could conjure a vision of eating spiders—and that might make customers green around the gills. And the prospect of a megrim (a word meaning low spirits or a migraine) meal is rather grim, which could cause sales to flounder.
The fishing industry thinks that if it can get people to try its newly branded fish, they will like what they taste. However, with the right-sounding name, consumers may not even need to try it to make up their minds! Do you think British customers will be reeled in hook, line, and sinker by the new names, netting fishermen more profits? Or will customers feel catfished?