Western Names in China
For an international company serious about the China market, it is imperative to have its business names (including its corporate name, brand names, and product names) translated into proper Chinese. The majority of the Chinese people do NOT read English and the Chinese translation is the only reference they have to address a western firm's corporate/brand/product identity. Also, as some recent legal cases demontrated, having a registered Chinese name can help a foreign company to guard against potential Chinese copycats from infringing upon its intellectual property rights. Furthermore, the lack of an official Chinese name can "force" some Chinese to start using an unofficial translation, which can damage a company's brand image. For example, the characters used in an unofficial translation for the name of a major western high-tech company actually mean ancient dogs!
In this report, we systematically analyzed the challenges associated with developing effective Chinese translations of western business names (both from a linguistic and cultural perspective). We also discussed the most prevalent translation methods, for example, pronunciation based, literal, and function based approaches. Based on our experience in helping western firms (particularly consumer companies) to set up businesses in China, we then explained a step-by-step process that would help a western company to create powerful Chinese business names such as "Benchi" (Mercedes-Benz) and "Kekou Kele" (Coca Cola).
In the appendix of this report, we also listed more than a dozen examples of highly effective Chinese translations of international business names . This appendix includes the original names in English/other western languages, the Chinese translations (in characters), the pronunciation of the Chinese translations, and the meanings of the Chinese characters used in the translations.