Mehvehzeh? Mdvdz? Medvedev!

Kim PierceallCommunicating and Writing

Anybody else spend the morning trying to pronounce the name of Russia’s new president? Ok, maybe just me. Even listening to it again and again in the radio news reports of his coming out party, I just couldn’t get (gyet?) the hang of it. Putin. No problem. Yeltsin. Fine. Medvedev?

Actually it looks better, easier in print. Reminds me of the legion of whimsical names cropping up for new Web 2.0 applications, like Zenbe (an email wrangler), Zenmanta (blog assistant), Zhura (screenwriting tool). These new catchy monikers can be hard to remember or roll off your tongue at first. But branding is a funny thing. The uniqueness can pay off, if the word/name is sticky enough. How long did it take you to use “google” as a verb?

The best thing Medvedev has going for his new “brand” of presidency is that this name is undeniably Russian. Broadcasters will rehearse the consonants and we’ll get used to hearing it after a while. The lesson for me (besides the one in not get tongue-tied at a dinner party) is working with what you have. If your company has a name or a service with a funny name or a cumbersome description, sometimes you just might need to repeat, repeat, repeat to let the message sink in with your target audience. Though if reports from Mutha Rusha are accurate, Medvedev has bigger troubles than having us get his name right.