What to Keep in Mind for Brand Naming in China?

As we enter the new decade, everyone is trying to foresee the upcoming trends and become the top player in China’s huge and growing market. In the coming decade, China’s economy will undergo massive changes influenced by its booming middle class and major shifts in consumption habits.

For foreign brands in China, here’s what’s most important to know. Being foreign is no longer enough to win consumers’ hearts.

The hyper pace of change in the last decade has led to a massive culture gap. Millennials and Generation Z have taken over the market, and they demand to be noticed. Most foreign brands realized long ago that they needed a Chinese name, but newcomers to the market have to adapt to new trends to stick.

Creating a Chinese name might seem a daunting task. Don't panic! We’re here to share a few tips on how to make your Chinese name stand out and strike passion.

What Does It Take to Make a Good Chinese Name?

Keep It Short

Young Chinese consumers are always on the move. They don't have the patience for complicated foreign names. In China, Mercedes Benz is technically called 梅赛德斯奔驰 [méi sài dé sī bēn chí], a 6-character string. Chinese consumers shamelessly shorten it. It's just 奔驰 [bēn chí] to them. 

Make It Simple

If there’s one thing Gen Z is known for, it’s for living on their phones. They’re digital natives, and the easier it is to find the right character for your name among thousands of homophones on their mobile keyboards, the more likely they are to send it to their friends. At the same time, their screens are tiny, making complicated characters almost impossible to decipher. 

Don’t try to impress anyone using characters with tons of strokes or that are uncommon in daily language. In the best case, they will be mispronounced, in the worst case, they’ll be unreadable.

Tell Your Own Story

Good fortune and good luck used to be the heart of any good Chinese name. French supermarket Carrefour’s Chinese name, for example, means a happy and fortunate home (家乐福 [jiā lè fú]). While these are perennial favorites, Gen Z has a flair for the unusual.

If you're an FMCG or retail brand with rapidly cycling products, check in with your targets and embrace your whacky side when naming your new products.

 Not only tasty but also memorable by its well-thought and provoking name 

脏脏包(Dirty Dirty Bread) (Source: xiachufang.com)

Let It Ring

If the name sounds harmonious, Chinese speakers will remember it. But what does harmonious actually mean? 
Simply put, Chinese tones go up, down and sideways. We know, it can feel like a jigsaw puzzle, but it’s not. The best names have a balanced down and up flow, with a rising tone (tone 1 or 2) at the end. The higher ending tone is easy to pronounce, and it sounds positive and engaging.

Think Digital

Too early to already think about your mobile strategy? Not at all! 
China's mobile usage numbers are through the roof. With 1.6 billion phones registered in China in 2019, you'll want your name to be visible on every platform they use. From WeChat to Tmall, brands are omnichannel. Owning an authentic Chinese name and electing to have a bilingual brand signature is a smart way to seduce your consumer. 

What Next?

Understandably, many brands are afraid to take the leap to create a Chinese name. As the world’s 3rd largest consumer market with growing spending power, China is still full of possibilities for whoever leverages it smartly. 

Remember, an ideal Chinese brand name should easily integrate into users' digital-centered lives and adapt to evolving market and cultural factors. Now that you have the keys to understanding what makes a good Chinese name, doesn't it feel like the time for you to make the big leap? 

About Labbrand

Labbrand is the leading China-originated global brand consultancy with regional operations in APAC (Shanghai, Singapore), Europe (Paris), and North America (New York, Vancouver). We drive forward the positive power of branding. Leading brands on impactful journeys, we create meaningful brand experiences by bringing together excellence in research, strategy, design and verbal identity.




  • Labbrand Naming Team,

    Labbrand, Shanghai