Saturday, May 03, 2014

How to Choose Your Chinese Company or Brand Name

Once you decide to enter the Chinese market as a western company or brand, you need to think of a Chinese name.

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:
  1. Your Chinese name must tell your brand’s story.
  2. Examples: BMW (bao ma) means “precious horse”; Subway sandwiches (sai bai wei) means “better than 100 tastes.”
  3. The characters in the name must look good together.
  4. The Chinese name must be legally available.
  5. The name should work well in Mandarin, Cantonese and Shanghainese that are three dramatically different languages.
  6. 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.
  7. Make sure the name has meaning.
    McDonald’s (mai dang lao) kept its name although the Chinese characters represent wheat, should and labor.
  8. Hire an expert with a solid track record to help you. 

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