Hello China – Please give us names we can pronounce

If we stop to think about it, we know we all buy a lot of Chinese products at the toy store and at the clothing stores and many other stores. But they all have English names, or at least Western European names. Their whole packaging and presentation is adapted to our local culture. So how come China’s tech industry doesn’t get this?  Don’t tell me they are like many tech teams around the world that ignore what their fellow marketers in consumer industries have already discovered.

Do you really expect me to recommend a Huawei computer or phone to my mother when she will never be able to pronounce its name? Do you notice how Acer, Asus and Lenova, with their pronounceable names, sell successfully in the US and Europe?  When I have raised this point before, some Chinese point out to me that Tsing Tao beer sells well here. Well yes, in Chinese restaurants where we can’t pronounce a lot of things on the menu. But I have never heard of anyone walking into their local liquor store asking for Tsing Tao? That name construct is just too difficult for us unless we are from the Tswana tribe in Southern Africa.

The other push back I get, and I am sure this clouds their thinking, especially on mainland China, is look how successful the Japanese and Korean brands are in the US. Yes, but I can pronounce Hitachi or Fujitsu or Sony even if I don’t know what they mean. And Samsung and Lucky Goldstar (now LG) of Korea are practically English words anyway. And all of these have spent many millions educating the world.

So now many of the Chinese resort to initials instead, not realizing that we actually know what the US big initial companies actually stood for, and that we have had 30 or more years to hear their message. But ZTE? Not even easy to say in English, and different in American and British English.. without a hint of a meaning. Reminds me of one of the promo pages on Huawei’s website:  LTE TDD blazing the golden trail. 40 years in high tech and I haven’t a clue what this is all about! And does HTC stand for Huawei Tech Corp or someone else?

In this sea of confusion, Peak Sport stands out like a big star..even though we know it should be Peak Sports. I chuckle at their competitor naming the company Li-Ning after a gymnast (although I thought it was a Panda). Wonder what happens if it is used at the end of a line? People may read it as Lining?  Ever seen any lining on your sports clothes? Next thing you know you will have to iron them too – or send them out to the Chinese laundry.

Posted in Domain Names, Naming Education, Naming News

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