Localizing your company or brand name is complicated. You need a Chinese name as soon as you start selling on e-commerce sites and start using local social media. You also want to use WOM to promote your brand.
It involves in-depth knowledge of the local language and culture, sensitivity towards local customer attitudes and willingness to adapt the company/brand name. Gap and IBM decided to keep their short name, expecting Chinese consumers to learn them. This is not a clever way to build a brand in China.
How to choose a Chinese company/brand name:
- Your Chinese name must tell your brand’s story.
- Examples: BMW (bao ma) means “precious horse”; Subway sandwiches (sai bai wei) means “better than 100 tastes.”
- The characters in the name must look good together.
- The Chinese name must be legally available.
- The name should work well in Mandarin, Cantonese and Shanghainese that are three dramatically different languages.
- The name should only have positive connotations.
LinkedIn‘s brand name in Chinese also sounds like the word for the ghost of a dead infant.
- Make sure the name has meaning.
McDonald’s (mai dang lao) kept its name although the Chinese characters represent wheat, should and labor.
- Hire an expert with a solid track record to help you.