At this very minute, someone in France could be spitting out a mouthful of musty Beaujolais and taking my name in vain. Well, the name of my company, Trafalgar Communications, to be precise.

How do I know this? I was interviewing a very charming man in Lyon, France, by phone, for a corporate newsletter article. As we were wrapping up the conversation, he commented: “You know, Donna, in Fraaaaance, you would never name a company Trafalgar. Our emperor Napoleon was defeated at Trafalgar. To this day, when something goes bad, people swear, ‘Trafalgar!’”

Oh great. Almost 20 years ago I named my business Trafalgar Communications for the street where I’m located. Yes, it’s very original, I know. I vaguely recalled something about Nelson at Trafalgar, but never gave the moniker a second thought. And now I find out that people in France swear it as an oath. Fortunately, my dealings with the French are few and far between, and my colleagues in Quebec don’t share the French sensitivity about the word Trafalgar.

Of course, being a die-hard researcher, I had to dig deeper into this Trafalgar business. I discovered that the deciding naval battle of the Napoleanic Wars took place between British ships under Admiral Nelson and French and Spanish vessels under Admiral Villeneuve. Some 14,000 French and Spanish sailors were lost; that was 10 times the British casualties. The Battle of Trafalgar ended any chance France had of invading Britain.

Some free advice: thoroughly research company names before registering them!

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Writer, speaker, podcaster, communications and social media consultant, workshop leader and part-time university instructor. As a consultant, I emphasize the importance of storytelling and relationship-building, and enjoy helping people understand how today’s technology, combined with tried-and-true tactics, can help them communicate better with employees, customers and prospects.


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