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Monday, February 22, 2010

What Does Chacha Mean To You? (The Power Of A Name)

If you are not Indian, chances are when I say Chacha you will think of a type of latin dance. Although it is technically called the "cha-cha-cha" it's the more widespread meaning. If you WERE Indian, however, you would know that Chacha means Uncle. Actually, it means a lot more than Uncle. When I call someone Chacha, anyone who heard me would know not only that that person was my Uncle, but that my relation to him was on my father's side, and that he was younger than my father. All that information is transferred in a single word. Tau or Tauji is similar, but used as the word for what to call the same Uncle if he is older than my father.  Similar names exist on the mother's side and for the older generation of grandparents. Even siblings use the words "bhaiyya" (for older brother) and "didi" (for older sister).

Sound like a foreign and confusing system? Consider that the next time you walk into a Starbucks and order a Grande instead of a medium or a Venti instead of a small. Starbucks is one retail outlet that has their own lingo. Sit down at any Waffle House in a Southern US state and you can order your hash browns "scattered, smothered, and covered." If you've been there, you'll know what that means. 

The point is, there is a power in creating your own language that relates deeply to having your own culture. Countries and cultures have their own words that exist as a part their cultural identity. They signify a shared knowledge and basis for communication. Starbucks, on a smaller scale, has created the same thing.  What types of words does your company use that are unique to it? More importantly, are those used as a part of your company's culture internally or are they used to share an insider's language with your customers as well? Only brands with loyal and passionate customers come close to having their own language. What are you doing to create yours?

Posted via email from rohitbhargava's posterous


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Well, in Spain it means a pejorative way to refer a woman who cleans houses.



I was directed towards this post since the term “chacha” sounded interesting and familiar although I am not Indian I have many great friends who are almost family from India. I think the comparison on how a single word (very common in spanish) describes so many things towards creating our own languages. I mainly work as an IT Security Consultant for a small company so we can only dream of being able to own a term with the masses.

My experiences with specific terms in industries, professions, or overall communities are aligned to a certain a affinity that is created by the selected group of individuals that understand the term or various terminology.

On one occasion a few years go I was having Lunch at one of my past clients in the banking industry and the subject was brought upon on how specific terminology is used to create a selected group of individuals to work in one profession. After that moment I was very aware of the reasons why there are so many various terms in various industries especially in technical areas for the same object or process.

Thanks for the post and it makes me think a bit more on how influential a simple term just as in Starbucks Terminology can enhance your brand and create a community of loyal customers.

Actually we call our polish aunts ChaCha. But this has great application in terms of higher education. We definitely have our own language here at West Point....some of it changes through the years and lots crosses all generations! The trick is figuring out how to use it to our advantage.

Yeah,the first thing that comes in my mind is a type of dance.But in the Philippines,there is also called a Charter Change or simply "cha-cha".It refers to the political and other related processes involved in amending or revising the current 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

You know your marketing is good when your brand name becomes a household term e.g. "hoover" became a term for vacumm cleaning.

In answer to your lead-in question, the first thing I thought of when I read “chacha” on your post was the mobile texting information service. I don’t really use ChaCha much myself, but I have friends who use it regularly and often reference it in group situations. That it is the first thing to come to mind, even though I am hardly a regular customer would suggest they are on to something.

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Hey Rohit, Chacha is a great example to explain your idea on using a unique language to communicate ideas, which eventually creates a basis of communication. But on the other hand, bhaiyya isn't just used as a term for elder brother any more, as you would very well know. Now we address vendors and autowallas as bhaiyya! So doesn't that mean even the creation of a unique language can be purposefully misinterpreted by a few people (in this case, competitors)which can actually lower the efficiency of another company's unique pitch? I think a competitor with deeper pockets can use the same unique words to their advantage, and discredit competition with carefully planned campaigns. While evenly placed companies like Pepsi and Coke can use it to create a media rivalry.

On an internal level though, I must agree with your concept. I use a couple of unique phrases in my publishing contracts with clients too, and I know it works! Somehow, these key words stick in clients' minds and they actually use it during meetings with their internal teams too. Two phrases that I use in my contracts as add-ons are "Together, we Nuke YOUR competition!" and "Peerless Perfection". And as you say, people don't forget unique lines.

If there's irony in the world - here it is. I was just checking my Google Alerts for "marketing blog" and your post came up regarding "ChaCha". At this very moment, I am sitting in the executive boardroom of ChaCha - the mobile search company in headquartered in Indiana. Your post is a great read and I'll share it with the team.


@Doug - That is truly ironic. I'd love to know what the folks at ChaCha thought about it!

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