What is in a brand name? In China, everything

Coca-Cola came up with a clever Chinese name that appears related, and implies Scrumptious Exciting. If you might be a well-to-do Shanghai resident, you may begin a typical day with a cup of Starry Hope, and then check e mail on your Triple Stars before driving to the business office in your Treasured Horse. Right after function, you may well unwind with a chilly bottle of Hundred Prestige.

In case you skipped it, that’s in fact Starbucks ( SBUX ) , Samsung, BMW and Budweiser.

The Chinese names of these effectively-known manufacturers may possibly sound silly in English, but they are essential to assisting overseas businesses rake in billions in China, in which a name is thought to make or break your luck.

For firms, coming up with a identify that suits the firm’s graphic is challenging sufficient. But it truly is even a lot more challenging in Chinese, which has several dialects and scores of homophones that can direct to unintended double entendres.

For example, in Mandarin, the word for “tall” (高) seems just like the phrase for “cake” (糕) — they’re both pronounced “gao.”

“The mistaken identify will just give the improper impact,” stated Tait Lawton, founder of Nanjing Marketing and advertising Team. Foreign corporations have “to recognize there is indicating in Chinese figures — it’s not like English the place you can just take letters and mash them jointly to make distinct seems.”

Ideal Buy ( BBY ) , for case in point, did not have a quite catchy Chinese name, using a in close proximity to-immediate translation from English, Lawton stated. Even though it’s challenging to discern just how much the identify had to do with its organization prospects, the electronics retailer never ever caught on in China, and shuttered its namesake retailers in 2011.

Some makes have discovered accomplishment with names that not only sound like their English monikers, but also have significant meaning in Chinese. “Rui bu,” utilized by Reebok, means “quickly steps,” whilst Nike ( NKE ) goes by “nai ke,” which translates to “stamina and perseverance.”

Coca-Cola ( KO ) arrived up with a clever one particular, “kekou kele,” which means “tasty enjoyable,” and stays true to the unique English. On best of that, part of the identify seems like the Chinese word for “thirsty.”

Although that type of significance might be missing to a foreigner’s ears, it truly is anything that sticks with Chinese consumers, who are much more inclined to don’t forget the Chinese name in excess of the English one particular, said Vladimir Djurovic, CEO of Labbrand, a company that assists international companies brand name in China.

It truly is critical “to join with the classification … [and] to be near to your concentrate on audience, to be available,” he stated.

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Financial institutions, for occasion, looking for to attract the prosperous, must contemplate names that give off the effect of prosperity and prosperity. Goldman Sachs’ title in Chinese is “gao sheng,” or “very affluent.”

London lender HSBC went with “hui feng,” which around translates to “collected abundance.” A immediate translation for HSBC, which stands for Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Company, would not have worked — in Chinese, it would have sounded like every other regional lender, alternatively of a worldwide finance powerhouse, Djurovic mentioned.

Others, like French grocery chain, Carrefour, will want to show up more consumer-friendly. Its Chinese title, “jia le fu,” means “satisfied loved ones.”

Djurovic said that selecting a very good Chinese name can get up to a year. “There is no absolute rule … the appropriate name will usually count on a few of things,” he explained.

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