Things to Keep In Mind When Translating Your Brands Name to Chinese

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Home to the world’s largest population and economy, China has attracted a multitude of international brands seeking a piece of the Chinese pie. The first consideration is overcoming language barriers and coming up with a suitable brand name.

With the large influx of foreign luxury brands in China, brands such as YSL, Chanel, and Gucci have become recognized by own original names rather than the Chinese ones. For new entrants however, this can prove difficult to achieve in the short run.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when translating your brand’s name to Chinese.

The Chinese Language

In a step to preserve the ‘purity’ of the Chinese language, the government has taken measures to make it harder to use foreign words. Brands that entered the Chinese market some time ago have become well-known with their Chinese names as opposed to newer ones such as the examples mentioned above.

There are a few indicators to judge the quality of a Chinese brand name such as the following:

  1. Names that are vastly different from the original both in terms of sound and meaning
  2. The name sounds like the original but has a different meaning
  3. The name closely resembles the meaning, but the sound is unrelated.
  4. Both the sound and meaning resemble the original name

As you can probably guess, a Chinese brand name which falls in the last category is considered the best. But coming up with such a name is not an easy task. The best example of the last category is Coca-Cola’s Chinese name 可口可乐 which is pronounced as kě kǒu kě lè and means ‘tasty fun’. A creative name close to the original.

Exploring Potential Names

The Chinese counterpart words must reflect the core values of the brand. From a Chinese perspective, it must feel, look, and sound right to the audience. The name must also be easily memorable and should embody the brand image.

Certain brands emphasize strongly on having a similar sound with the original without giving much thought to the meaning which can end up projecting a negative image to the consumers. A good example is of the brand Best Buy. Their Chinese brand name is 百思买 and is pronounced as bǎi sī mǎi which sounds close to the original.

However, the meaning in Chinese is “think a hundred times before you buy”. This is hardly what you want your customers to be doing before purchasing your products.


Once you’ve finally decided on a name, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • How does it sound? Is it easy to pronounce?
  • How does it look in writing or on a logo?
  • Does the name invoke an emotional response?
  • Is the name in line with the brand’s core values?

Choosing a Chinese name can be tricky and certainly requires both creative and linguistic expertise. Our English to Chinese translation services are some of the best in the industry and can help you create a Chinese brand name that not only embodies your core values but also resonates with Chinese consumers. Contact us today!