Brandnames in China

04 Aug 2005|Cynthia Chan

One of the many reasons clients send us to China is to help them create brand names that work in a country with over a billion people spread across a vast geographic area. This is both an art and a science, as this recent article by Doris Ho implies. Formal rules and guidelines exist, but creativity also plays a crucial role in finding the right name and expressing it correctly. For example,

Simplicity in a name is very important. Chinese is a culture that embraces simplicity and directness. A simple name may just be one that reads easily, such as a one-syllable English word or a direct phonetic translation of the English brand. Alternatively, the name may carry a straightforward meaning of what the product does. A simple name makes it easier for people to pronounce, remember, and hence, has a higher chance of word-of-mouth transmission.

Depending on the product or service group, a translated name that suggests its country of origin may be helpful to enhance the status of the brand. This approach is particularly popular in cosmetics and fragrances where foreign brands use phonetic translation.

With China opening its market, international brands have begun to flood the country and competition is increasing. Ensuring a brand’s first impression in China is positive requires time and effort to understand the appropriate form of cultural adaption, the translation (phonetic or meaning), the impact of regional differences and more. Well-designed research can assist in all these areas.

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