World brandnames in Chinese

There are many goods from other countries'manufacturers on Chinese market. The products of well-known companies are presented widely. The brandnames of such companies are treated by marketing specialist as "recognizable". As a rule, recognizable brandnames are logotypes in Latin letters.

Unluckily, Chinese en masse do not know foreign languages, and Latin letters tell almost nothing to them. But hieroglyphs do tell everything.

Because of it, self-respecting companies create hieroglyphic logotypes prior to coming to China. Doing this, they are reaching the customers' hearts from two sides at once: first, hieroglyphic brandnames are remembered well by Chinese, and second, the commodity bearing such a logotype seems more closer.

Below there are some of best-known hieroglyphic brandnames accompanied by pinyin transcription. How to tune your browser for Chinese characters, read here.

Food products

Coca-Cola 可口可乐 kekoukele
Pepsi-Cola 百士可乐 baishikele
Sprite 雪碧 xuebi
Fanta 芬达 fenda
Nestle 雀巢 quechao
Maxwell 麦氏 maishi
Lipton 立顿 lidun

Hi-tech consumer goods

As a rule, the vast majority of brandnames in this area Japanese. Names of Japanese companies are of hieroglyphic origin (exept for brands like SONY or SHARP). This why, transcription of such brands is often very unlike to their Latin twins.

松下 songxia
Sanyo 三洋 sanyang
Sony 索尼 suoni
Sharp 夏普 xiapu
Philips 飞利浦 feilipu
Samsung 三星 sanxing
Toshiba 东芝 dongzhi
Hitachi 日立 rili
Aiwa 爱华 aihua
Pioneer 先锋 xianfeng
Daewoo 大宇 dayu
Hyundai 现代 xiandai
Nokia 诺基亚 nuojiya
Siemens 西门子 ximenzi
Ericsson 爱立信 ailixin
Motorola 摩托罗拉 motuoluola

Automobiles and motorcycles

VW (Volkswagen) 大众汽车 dazhong qiche
Mercedes-Benz 梅赛德斯奔驰 meisaidesi benchi
Audi 奥迪 aodi
Peugeot 标致 biaozhi
Citroen 雪铁龙 xuetielong
Toyota 丰田 fengtian
Nissan 日产 richan
BMW 宝马 baoma
Daihatsu 大发 dafa
Ford 福特 fute
Honda 本田 bentian
Mitsubishi 三菱 sanling
Suzuki 铃木 lingmu
Opel 欧宝 oubao
GM (General Motors) 通用汽车 tongyong qiche
Kia 起亚 qiya
Mazda 马自达 mazida
Isuzu 五十铃 wushiling
Renault 雷诺 leinuo

Hieroglyphic brandnames can be formed in one of three main ways:

  1. Straight transcription. To reproduce the phonation they choose characters either neutral or positive-meaning. The most succesful example of it is Coca-Cola, whose Chinese variant persistently hints at the product's exclusive cosumer values, leaving the English original far behind. Opel also looks good, its hieroglyphs mean "European treasure".
  2. Translation of the meaning. From examples above, there are only Nestle, Pioneer, VW an GM which are translated in this way. These brands are formed from widely-used words very easy to translate.
  3. The goods from Japan and Korea (China is very important market for them) are usually born with hieroglyphic labels. In China they are simply read according to Chinese phonetics.

Despite of fact that Japanese characters actually were Chinese ones borrowed long time ago, there were different changes with them at the opposite shores of the Yellow Sea. Nowadays, the same hieroglyph can have different meanings in Chinese and Japanese.

As an example, here is a curious story of some Japanese brandname in China.

In late '80s one Japanese company established its representation in Peking. Made a good-looking signboard. The signboard had immediately attracted a crowd of local inhabitants and passers-bye laughing and pointing at the company's logo. The matter is that the company's hieroglyphs 野尻 are translated from Japanese as "valley's edge" but mean "wild butt" in Chinese.

So a logo in Chinese is a very crucial point.