19. Naming Development for China

Bravis is able to adapt brand names already in use in other territories for the Chinese market.

When developing Chinese names, it is necessary to decide which to prioritize: sound, meaning or orthography.

When the focus is on sound, the normal approach is to find Chinese characters that sound similar to the original name and use them as phonetic symbols. Sometimes it is possible to find Chinese characters that combine the right sound and the right meaning. This is probably the ideal approach for strong global brands with a lot of cachet. Examples include SONY, which is written索尼 ('suoni') and Intel, written英特尔.

Focusing more on meaning involves selecting Chinese characters with positive associations as a means of building brand value. This results in names that Chinese people find easy to accept, although sometimes they sound nothing like the original. This is the best approach for a brand that is aiming for 'deep' localization. It is also a popular strategy for names that are long and hard to pronounce. Examples include Nestle (雀巢, pronounced XXX) and General Motors (通用, pronounced XXX).

Companies that are already using Chinese ideograms for their brand name outside China sometimes go into China using the same characters. This is particularly true for Japanese firms, especially those for which being perceived as Japanese is a plus. (We should point out that Japanese ideograms originally derived from Chinese.) At the same time, an ideogram that is quite inoffensive in Japan may have negative associations in China, while the pronunciation of the same name may be different in the two languages. In such instances, our job at Bravis is more supportive and involves checking if the same ideograms can be used rather than developing a name from scratch.

Fujitsu is one company that uses identical characters in both Japanese (富士通) and Chinese (富士通). Mitsubishi Motors uses the same two characters for Mitsubishi in both Japanese (三菱自動車工業) and Chinese (三菱汽车), though the characters for the 'Motors' part are different.

Leveraging its global network and its in-house Chinese staff in the Tokyo head office, Bravis is able to develop Chinese names that perfectly match client needs.

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