There are no hard and fast rules to getting a brand name right for China. Finding the best Chinese name for a brand takes time and needs to weigh up several factors.
Almost half of all brands go for an approach where the Chinese name sounds similar to its original. This solution can be good for globally consistent branding, but can mean that the name in Chinese lacks any real meaning. For example, Audi sounds like AO DI and means “profound enlighten”.
Taking an approach where the Chinese brand name reflects the meaning of the original can also be a good way to go – and about a quarter of brands choose this route. The Chinese brand name has a good sematic fit to the original, but global communication is more difficult.
Some brand names used in China have been able to stay close to the original in both sound and meaning. These examples are rare, difficult to achieve, but give a global brand the best chance of success. Nike (sounds like NAI KE and means “endurance conqueror”) and Coca Cola (sounds like KE KOU KE LE and means “can be tasty can be happy”) are amongst the best examples.
Our approach to evaluating Chinese brand name ideas takes into account the consumers’ voice and view, the role of descriptive bias, linguistic and cultural imagery, sound symbolism, context, message intention, memorability and uniqueness.
If you’d like to find out more about our experience in brand name testing, contact Rob.