10 Intriguing Chinese translations of western brands

10 Intriguing Chinese translations of western brands

When it comes to international expansion, brands need to translate more than just words. From advertising to product images and the brand name itself, when a company enters a new market they need to translate the very essence of what their company stands for, while working with a totally different language, culture and set of traditions and sensitivities – no easy task.
How hard is it to translate your brand name to Chinese? We examine 10 brands who did it right.

1.  Nike

Transliterated Name: Nai Ke
Meaning: Enduring and persevering

Nike’s Chinese brand name is arguably the most impressive as not only does it sound the same in both languages, but it also has a strong meaning that matches the product. As for the famous swoosh? It needs no translation at all.

 

2. BMW

Transliterated Name: Bao ma
Meaning: Precious Horse
Horse is one word in Chinese that has a positive connotation, which makes it ideal to include in a brand name. Other good words to include are clear, “le” and “xi,” or happy; “li,” meaning “strength” or “power”; and “fu,” translated as “lucky” or “auspicious.”

 

3. Coca-Cola

Transliterated Name: Ke Kou Ke Le
Meaning: Tasty Fun
Another Chinese brand that sounds similar to its English name, although is in some ways superior, as this meaning can’t match the original. Translating your brand name to Chinese in this way will give the greatest chance of success as it sounds the same worldwide.

 

 4.IKEA

Transliterated Name: Yi Jia
Meaning: Comfortable Home

IKEA has a Chinese name that makes one think of a practical, comfortable home. “Yi” comes from convenient. Also, piányi cheap. And shì, suitable.“Jia” of course means home. So when you come to IKEA,  you can expect to furnish your home suitably, cheaply and conveniently.

 

5.  Marriott Hotel

 


Transliterated Name: Wan hao
Meaning: 10,000 wealthy elites
Owners of the Ritz-Carlton and Bulgari Hotels, Marriott’s Chinese brand name looks to target the luxury market in the hospitality industry.

 

6. Mr. Muscle

Transliterated Name: Wei Meng Xian Sheng
Meaning: Mr. Powerful
Mr. Muscle was originally not translated when exported to China but ran into a problem: when spoken by native Chinese speakers it sounded like ‘Mr. Chicken Meat.’ Thus, a new name with a similar meaning was needed and Mr. Powerful was born.

 

7.Marvel

Transliterated Name: Man wei
Meaning: Comic power
Noted in the New York Times, consultants came up with this name which is “roughly phonetic, foreign-sounding and eminently suited to superheroes with the meaning “comic power.”

 

8.Tide

Transliterated Name: Tai Zi
Meaning: Gets Rid of Dirt
The characters used here are key: using ones that sound the same but are written differently would have meant “too purple”.

 

9.Johnson & Johnson

Transliterated Name: Qiangsheng
Meaning: Unyielding and Powerful

A producer of bath and hygiene products likely wants to promote healthy living. This is exactly what Johnson & Johnson has chosen to do through its Chinese name, which hints at strong life. Think:  unyielding and powerful.on the other hand, connotes all good meanings relating to life and longevity.

 

10.Lay’s

Transliterated Name: Le Shi
Meaning: Happy Things
Lay’s Chinese name is an almost sound adaptation, but mostly uses words with a positive connotation to sell their product abroad.

 

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