Creating Brand Names in China
Names in China. It’s not a typical routine in naming where words mean more things than they appear. Of course, in English, we think we have names that mean more than what they appear, but that’s from personal associations like family, interests, or secret deep meanings. In China, English words sound like other words in Chinese, and brand name seekers hope that the meanings work out to success. Of course this leads to the best part. The name failures.
From the NY Times article (NY Times - Names China) “Microsoft had to think twice about bringing its Bing search engine here because in Chinese, the most common definitions of the character pronounced “bing” are “disease,” “defect” and “virus” — rather inauspicious for a computer product. The revised name, Bi ying, roughly means “responds without fail.”
Peugeot (Biao zhi) sounds enough like the Chinese slang for “prostitute” (biaozi) that in southern China, where the pronunciations are especially close, the brand has inspired dirty jokes. And in China, the popular Mr. Muscle line of cleaners has been renamed Mr. Powerful, (Weimeng Xiansheng). The product’s maker said in an e-mail that it had forgotten why.”