Western companies looking to bring their products to China face a problem not unlike that of Chinese parents naming a baby boy: little Gang (“strong”) is regarded quite differently than little Yun (“cloud”).
An off-key name could have serious financial consequences, due to the negative meaning of the translated name. For example, Microsoft should be careful. The phonetic Chinese character for Bing, its new search engine, means, “disease,” “defect,” and “virus.”
However, a successful translated brand name brings good brand images and stimulates consumers’ interests to buy the products.
The paradigm probably is the Chinese name for Coca-Cola, Kekoukele, which not only sounds like Coke’s English name, but conveys its essence of taste and fun in a way that the original name could not hope to match.There are many others. Consider Tide detergent, Taizi, whose Chinese characters literally mean “gets rid of dirt.”
The art of picking a brand name that resonates with Chinese consumers is no longer an art. It has become a sort of science, with consultants, computer programs and linguistic analyses. So far, there are already some professional companies running translation brand name as a business.
However, if we could come up with a universal appealing brand name, wouldn’t we save money to think of translation, making the brand name world-widely famous once the brand succeeds!