In China, names have a deep significance. So for international brands looking to head over to the world’s largest market, they have an incredibly important decision to make.There’s a whole business based around selecting brand names for companies that are looking to go into China, reports Michael Wines at the New York Times. There are linguistic algorithms, computer programs and consulting companies devoted to it.
It’s more complicated than it looks on the surface. China is home to many widely used dialects, and what appears safe in Mandarin may not translate all that well to, say, Cantonese or Hokkien.
Some just happened to be natural fits. Take Coca-Cola, which is called Kekoukele in China, meaning “tasty fun.” Not only does it sound like its international name, but it has a meaning that personifies the Coke brand.
Here are some examples of big brands who chose Chinese names that have resonated with the public. Some are phonetically similar to their English names, while others are completely changed:
Tide — Taizi, “gets rid of dirt”
Reebok — Rui bu, “quick steps”
Nike — Nai ke, “enduring and persevering”
Colgate — Gao lu jie, “revealing superior cleanliness”
Marriott — Wan hao, “10,000 wealthy elites”
Citibank — Hua qi yinhang, “star-spangled banner bank”
Heineken — Xi li, “happiness power”
Pentium — Ben teng, “galloping”