"Bite the Wax Tadpole" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue as a memorable moniker for a company. Yet, that's how the brand name for Coca-Cola was interpreted by many when the beverage firm first initiated marketing efforts in China. Worse, Pepsi's former catchphrase, "Pepsi brings you back to life," was translated among the Chinese as "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave." Corporate giants like the cola kings can survive such embarrassing faux pas, but not every brand has the resilience and resources to recover from a major marketing blunder.
Peter Cohen is president of Peter S. Cohan & Associates. Cohan is the author of six books including e-Stocks: Finding the Hidden Blue Chips Among the Internet Impostors (HarperBusiness).