May 20, 2024


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Applications created in Quebec fall into English

Applications created in Quebec fall into English

Choosing a Name in Shakespeare's Language for a Business or Application Made in Quebec A strong trend. It may be a strategy to penetrate abroad, but is it really a good marketing decision? The question is divisive.

If you call the Office québécois de la langue française, you will be told that your complaint is not admissible, as your phone will only display applications with English names. An article in the Charter of the French Language states that businesses must display their business front in French, which does not apply to your phone's home screen.

However, upon opening an application provided in Quebec, service must be provided in French. Like its website and social media accounts. If so, the company complies with the regulations.

When registering with the Quebec commercial registrar, a company must have a name in French. Providing the English version is free if the site or application complies with the terms.

Corporate names in English for apps, sites or physical businesses have proliferated in recent years, often evoking strong reactions from our readers. Many entrepreneurs justify their decisions in the name of future international growth.

FootHero, the company behind the anti-waste app of the same name, also goes by the name March FootHero. Improv, an NPO tackling food waste, also known as Improv. According to the commercial register, at least.

The WeChalet rental platform is the same thing with the official (and cryptic) name Nature WeChalet. Its founder, Danny Babineau, admits that the term natural was only added to meet regulatory requirements.

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Given this linguistic duality, it came quite naturally.

This was at a time when the word “we” was used more by companies like WeTransfer, WeChat or WeWork. However, when it comes to renting a chalet, the letters “we” can be seen as an abbreviation for “weekend”, which is commonly used by French speakers, explains Danny Papineau. “A chalet, you often rent it at weekends,” says the disinterested taker. cottage in the name of his company.

He says the word salad sounds very high in English and is easily used by Spanish speakers who use the service. The entrepreneur received some criticism at the platform's launch, but for the French-speaking use of the name.

“Cirque du Soleil is yet another example of a company that managed to break through internationally with a French name,” Danny Papineau recalls.

“Salad is part of Quebec culture,” says the man who got his hands on the “Oichalet” brand, but he doesn't believe he'll use it in the short or medium term.

The founder of FoodHero is one of those who believe that adopting a company name in English has every advantage for a company with international ambitions.

“We're not people who think small,” Jonathan Defoe says bluntly. Personally, I always have international companies in the tech industry. From the start, there was no question of being confined to Quebec. »

However, the entrepreneur admits that he tried puns in French with the word hero, without success. He also notes that if his business had physical service points in Quebec, his strategy would have been completely different. “My position is that if a company is established down the street targeting local, Quebecers, I'm not for an English name,” he said.

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A good strategy?

“It's not a small question,” Louis-Félix Binet, director general of the Quebec Innovation Accelerator Movement, is quick to answer.

“We work with companies that we call young technology start-ups with high growth potential,” he explains. These companies are often based on a business model that is based on the probabilities of success in an international market, as we say. A global first. These companies don't think of selling products in their city first, then expanding in their region, across the country, and then exporting. These companies have a business model aimed at entering the international market from the beginning of their marketing. »

“From this point of view, the concern is to be an international marketer. Choosing a name is one of many decisions you have to think about,” he maintains.

In many cases, these young companies sometimes need investors based outside of Quebec and who don't speak French, Mr. Bennett says. “So the name of the company is the part that allows you to quickly attract an investor and get their attention. Does my name quickly say what I do?”, he says, specifically referring to Lightspeed, a local company that developed a fast payment platform.


At HEC Montréal, Claude Anano, a lecturer in the Department of Management, does not share this view. He strives every day to explain to his students that a company name in English is not a panacea.

“It's a strong tendency, it's not rational,” he says bluntly. There is no point in having an English name if it is not our nature.

“You're diluted in an English-speaking environment. Can't see you anymore. You're not you, and that's a shame. From a marketing point of view, I don't think it makes sense to operate this way.

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“People always tell me that English is international. I answer that English as a language, yes, but not as a slogan, not as a trademark. »

He cites the success of Cirque du Soleil and IKEA, whose products are named in Swedish. And what about Volkswagen? Das Auto In German?

In this regard, Mr. Binet recognizes that a name in French can sometimes help you stand out.

But sometimes, it can give a local feel. Investors don't want to invest in local projects, they want to invest in projects that sell and are easy to understand everywhere on the planet.

Louis-Félix Binet, director general of the Quebec Innovation Accelerator Movement

“Do we want entrepreneurs to be the defenders of the French language, or do we want them to succeed in making money, exporting Quebec genius around the world? I'm in favor of the second option, he adds. I'm a Francophile, but at some point, in business, the customer is right. »

For Mario Bolles, professor emeritus at the National Institute of Scientific Research, the question is whether naming in English or another language is a good marketing strategy. It's really on a case-by-case basis, he says.

“English does not guarantee success,” he said. Bankruptcy in English is just as bankrupt in Italian. »