In this age of globalized commerce, it can be pretty tough for a company to choose a unique name for themselves and their products. Not only do they need to make sure the name is appropriate for their business, they also need to be wary that it doesn’t mean anything inappropriate in the hundreds of languages that aren’t their own.
A German startup named Kontool recently learned that lesson when folks in Indonesia became aware of their company. Suddenly, their Facebook page became inundated with messages like these from cheeky Indonesians:
As the company explained in a Facebook post responding to their new viral fame among Indonesians, their name is actually meant to be a combination of konto, which means “account” in German, and the word “tool”. But it looks very similar to the Indonesian word kontol, which a vulgar term for another kind of tool, the kind that only men have… (Do we need to spell it out for you? Okay, P-E-N-I-S. Kontol means penis.)
While they may not have realized the enormously amusing implications of their name in Indonesian before, Kontool was smart enough to treat their new viral fame with good humor. They’ve even decided to lean into it by setting up an online store for their new fans so they can purchase “Everyone loves Kontool” shirts.
Moreover, they just released a new English language fact sheet for their company along with a new tagline: “Bigger and Stronger”.
As explained in the fact sheet, Kontool produces software meant to give small businesses easy-to-read analytic reports on their financial performance.
Will Kontool one day penetrate the Indonesia market? As alluded to in one of their posts, they hope to (after they conquer the German market) but said they would likely change their name if they came to Indonesia. But maybe not, at least according to their response to some of their new Indonesian fans who said they should keep their brand name if they come here:
In fact, Kontool is not the first foreign entity to earn viral fame among Indonesians for having such a name. Back in 2015, a Serbian EDM producer who called himself DJ Kontol also earned a certain kind of fame among Indonesians for his stage name (although, judging from his Twitter account, his career went limp and he stopped producing under the DJ Kontol moniker back in 2017).