Your French shampoo is lying to you.

TRESemmé Shampoo (ooh la la) is an elegant play-on-words. The closest French phrase is “très aimé,” which basically means “very loved” or “beloved.” Also cleverly hidden in “TRESemmé” is “tresser,” which means “braid.” And La Semme is a lovely tributary in Central France. But the actual origin of the name TRESemmé is a nod to its creator, renowned cosmologist Edna L. Emme.

Edna was from St Louis.

…and “Edna’s East-Missouri Hair Soap” wasn’t going to fly off the shelves. The exotic-sounding “TRESemmé,” however, became a hit.

Herbal Essences Shampoo, also made in Mid-America by Proctor and Gamble, has instructions in both English and French. Who, exactly, is that for? (Hint: Only 0.06% of the United States is made up of French-born citizens)

Pantene Revitalisant, fancy-French for “conditioner”, also made in Cincinnati.

Prego Italian Pasta Sauce, made by Campbell Soup, Camden, New Jersey.

Tostitos? They’ve never been south of Texas.

Chinese Cashew Chicken…famously created in Springfield, Missouri.

General Tso’s? Nobody on the Asian continent has heard of the dish.

So, who is this for? It’s for YOU.

You want your pizza from a place called Luigi’s. Your egg rolls taste better from a restaurant called “Hunan.” And I hear the babkas and blintzes are best over at Berenbaum’s Bakery.

Did TRESemmé lie to you by making you think it was from France?

Depends on what your definition of “lie” is. “TRESemmé – Made in France” would be a lie. TRESemmé, the Shampoo Used in Salons,” is a story. It’s a story YOU asked for, and a story YOU want to be true.

You want a shampoo used in a salon. Salons are much more upscale than barbershops. “Salon” is also a French word. As is “haute couture.” See where this is going?

Adding “TRESemmé” just makes it French-ier.

Now, don’t go changing the name of your business. That’s not smart. But what if you change the name of something your business does?

“Before the spring planting and after the fall harvest, men and women in Tuscany renewed their wedding rings by bringing them to a local goldsmith who would intricately polish and strengthen the rings. It’s a tradition called “Rinnovo”… Italian for “renew.” The short time the couple’s rings were being cleaned, was also a moment to reflect and renew their love for each other. Every wedding ring we sell at Rinollti Family Jewelers includes the twice-a-year exclusive Rinnovo Rejuvenation. Because we believe the only thing stronger than the strength of your wedding rings, is the strength of your love.”

Would you rather have The Tuscan Rinnovo Rejuvenation for your jewelry…? Or just drop off your rings for maintenance and cleaning every 6 months? There’s no such place as “Rinollti Family Jewelers,” and the Tuscan Rinnovo tradition didn’t exist until a paragraph ago. I just made it (somewhat) more interesting. Give me a couple days and I’ll really make it good.

If you’re selling a commodity and that commodity is called the same thing at every business, give yours a better name. I can get a “large coffee” anyplace. I can get a Grande only at Starbucks. For that matter, I can only get Starbucks at Starbucks.

Would you rather have an armchair? Or a Swedish Ekerö from Ikea?

In 1975, Chrysler told us their seats were made of Corinthian Leather. A type of leather that didn’t exist until ad firm Bozell and Jacobs invented it. “Corinthian” is slightly sexier than “interior made with leather and vinyl polymer blend.”

A customized name can make it more attractive and make it exclusive to your business. If they have “tune-ups,” you should have a Revitalizer.

Nobody is going to inject hyaluronic acid into their faces… But if you call it “Juvéderm,” you’ve got a good shot. Juvéderm is a nice mash-up of “juvenile” and “skin,” with an accent over the “e” to make it French.

Giving something common an uncommon name gives it a fighting chance of being noticed and being remembered. Because if you’re not doing (at least) that…you’re not in the game.

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