Brand Naming in Different Chinas
Linguistic, Cultural, and Economic Concerns of Brand-Locality Inconsistencies
The allure of the Greater China market has been on the radar of foreign firms for decades. The sheer size, and in many instances, the wealth of the Chinese-speaking world has been a considerable attraction to many Western firms.
To tap the large Chinese markets, several foreign firms have seized opportunities to develop their Chinese presence through local investment in branding. Through rigorous branding, they were able to simultaneously gain footholds across different regions in the Chinese-speaking world.
Yet many of the same firms also came to realize that the Chinese-speaking market is not a singular monolith. Not only are there many political boundaries among the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Singapore, there are numerous cultural differences and various levels of economic development shaped by the diverging heritages of and sometimes the political policies enacted in the different localities.
Such differences forced numerous foreign firms to deliberately distinguish their strategies in the different Chinese-speaking localities. For the duration of this article, the focus will be on the different brands used by foreign firms in the mainland Chinese and Hong Kong markets. A small scale research, conducted by the LABReport team, revealed the pervasiveness of such brand-locality inconsistency. Of the 5 top automobile manufacturers in the world, 4 of them have at least one brand name with different translation in Hong Kong and mainland China. Research showed similarly high percentages among top manufacturers in cosmetic and athletic products.