Manfred Guetta is an expert in creating car names. Mégane, Smart, Twingo, Vectra, Cayenne, Panamera: all created by him. But how does he do that?
His company is located in a historic half-timbered house in the Black Forest. Because Manfred Guetta, who has created resounding names for many car manufacturers, believes that “atmosphere is important to creation.” The 74-year-old German has not only created several car names with his company Gotta Brands, nor is he afraid of names for detergents, furniture or cat food.
Gotta started coming up with car names in the second half of the 1980s, having previously worked in advertising. It was a period when many car manufacturers abandoned cold numbers as type designations and chose a word instead of a combination of numbers on the tailgate.
His big breakthrough came with the Vectra name for Opel. “Out of financial need, I had the idea to write a book on building brand images and it sold out in no time. Then I called Opel, which is where my name went.”
“As arrogant as I was, I put an exorbitant price on devising a new car name: DM 45,000.”
The call will be a turning point in Jota’s career. “Opel has been frantically working on developing a successor to the Ascona. Because this car should usher in a new era, management wanted a new name. However, this wasn’t ‘said so, done’. Arrogant as I was, hung there exorbitant price: DM 45,000 The bid wasn’t respected at first, because it was too loud. But it seems Opel felt pressure to come up with a name in time.”
Gotta keep his leg stiff. “A month later I still got the job done,” he says with a laugh. His fees at the time were exorbitant for the name only. But Jutta kept his word and came up with a fictional name that evokes modernity and interest: Vectra.
More and more people in the auto industry heard that Gotta was good at inventing product names. After driving Opel, Renault knocked on his door. This led to his probably most famous weapon work: the creation of the Twingo name.
Manfred Guetta is now 74 years old.
Sometimes we test three hundred names
Gotta had already discovered while working as an account manager at an advertising agency that he was good at coming up with product names. ” He begins by listening: what does the customer want? What kind of company are we going to create a name for? What type of culture is there? The company is made up of people. We forget it sometimes. So we have to click and build a relationship.”
Then the team begins to work on the creation: about twenty employees come up with ideas. Gotta: ”We collect all possible letters using a computer and discuss them in groups. Then comes a long process, in which up to three hundred names are sometimes tested. The name should sound good anywhere in the world. On the other hand, it should attract, but at the same time not provoke aggression. It should not mean anything inappropriate. In this way, only famous names remain.”
“The name should sound good all over the world. On the one hand, it should attract, but at the same time not provoke aggression. “
Gotta says that visualizing specific nouns is also important. That is why he often writes such a name in chalk on the board and asks employees to respond. He also wanted to see the car in question as soon as possible. Then I get in the car. Check the headlights, grille and face. For me, a car has a soul. I even let myself get stuck in it. That’s how the smell absorbs, and I feel the material.”
“This profession always requires innovation”
I have not only dozens of model names like Panamera and Cayenne (Porsche), but also brand names like Smart (for Daimler-Benz) and Xedos (for Mazda). Sometimes he was also commissioned to put the name of a gearbox, such as Tiptronic (Porsche) and Sensonic (Saab).
The German prefers imaginary names rather than existing boy or girl names. It also deplores modern designations such as the E-tron (turd in French) – while Audi uses the name for its electric models. He finds it incomprehensible to make costly mistakes with frivolous names, such as the Toyota MR2 (Merdiaka poo in French) and Mitsubishi Pajero (Spanish for masturbation).
“Isn’t it annoying to call a truly innovative product AXR?”
I’ve now officially retired. He is now essentially leaving the business to his son, who now controls the company. But he couldn’t help but intervene from time to time.
“The interesting thing about this profession is that it always demands innovation. My challenge is setting new standards every time. I love companies that dare to commit. Isn’t that creative poverty?”