What’s in a Brand Name!?

China is undoubtedly the biggest market for most consumer brands in the world. But how do these “international brands” plan to conquer the huge Chinese market when its consumers can’t even pronounce, let alone remember, their name?

Most International Brands have taken up Chinese (meaningful) Names which make their brands more appealing. So when you are eating Lay’s snack foods (Le Shi), you are eating “Happy Things”!


So, while Coca Cola (Kěkǒu kělè) would mean “Delicious & Happiness”, Subway (Sàibǎiwèi) means “Filled with One Hundred Flavours”!!

However, choosing a Brand Name in China can be a big challenge. The Chinese Language has thousands of characters, each with many meanings and with pronunciations that vary from region to region. In the early days of Coke’s introduction in China, for example, shopkeepers advertised the drink using characters that sounded similar to “Coca-Cola” but had nonsensical meanings such as “wax-flattened mare.”

Tide detergent or Taizi, whose Chinese characters literally mean “gets rid of dirt”, the same sound written differently could mean “too purple.”(Oh!!)

Given below are a list of Brands, their Chinese names, with their meanings.

So let’s decode – After enjoying your “sparrow’s nest coffee” while smoking your “10 000 treasure road”, you drive your “treasured horse” to the nearest “family blessing”!

Brand Chinese Name Pronunciation( Pin Yin) Meanings
Apple 苹果 Píngguǒ Píngguǒ: apple
Palmolive 纵览 Zōnglǎn Zōng:palm
Lǎn: olive
Microsoft 微软 Wēiruǎn Wēi: micro
Ruǎn: soft
Volkswagen 大众汽车 Dàzhòng qìchē Dàzhòng: public, all
Kraft  卡夫 Kǎfu Kǎ: card
Fu: husband
Wal-Mart  沃尔玛 Wò’ērmǎ Wò: fertile
Ēr: suffix often used in names to indicate the sound [-l], [-el]
Mǎ: mary
Dior 迪奥 Dí’ào Dí: enlighten, guide
Ào: profound and difficult to understand
McDonald’s 麦当劳 Màidāngláo Mài: general term for wheat, barley, oats, etc.
Dāng: to serve as, or to be used as
Láo: to work
Nestlé 雀巢咖啡 Quècháo kāfēi Què: sparrow
Cháo: nest
Kāfēi: coffee
Meaning: Sparrow’s Nest Coffee
Marlboro 万宝路 Wànbǎolù Wàn: 10 000
Bǎo: treasure
Lù: street, path
Meaning: 10 000 Treasure Road
BMW 宝马 Bǎomǎ Bǎo: treasure
Mǎ: horse
Meaning: Treasured Horse
Mercedez Benz  奔驰 Bēnchí Bēn: run fast
Chí: go quickly
Meaning: Dashing Speed
Jaguar 捷豹 Jiébào Jié: win, victory
Bào: leopard, panther
Meaning: Swifting Panther
Coca-Cola 可口可乐 Kěkǒukělè Kěkǒu: delicous
Kělè: happiness
Meaning: Delicious & Happiness
Subway 赛百味 Sài bǎiwèi Sài: To surpass, to excel
Bǎi: 100
Wèi: flavour
Meaning: Filled with One Hundred Flavours
Carrefour 家乐福 Jiālèfú Jiā: family
Lè: happy
Fú: prosperous
Meaning: Family Blessing
Lexus 雷克萨斯 Léikèsàsī Léi: thunder
Kè: to overcome with victory
Sà: filler sound that appears in many words like 萨萨 (sàsà ), the sound the leaves make when it’s windy.
Sī: phonetic element
Meaning: All the above results in a wild sounding ride, doesn’t it?
Pepsi 百事可乐 Bǎishìkělè Bǎi: 100
Shì: matter, thing
Kělè: happiness
Meaning: A Hundred Happy Things
Lay’s   乐事 Lèshì Lè: happiness
Shì: matter, thing
Meaning: Happy Event

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s