How to make Chinese company name?

Very often, companies that want to take their first business step in China are faced with the dilemma of how to create a Chinese name for their company. This dilemma is similar to that of creating a Chinese brand name that sounds like the original brand. But are the company name and the brand name the same thing?

Is a Chinese brand name and a Chinese company name the same?

A company is a legalised and organised business enterprise. Its purpose is to make money by providing a product or service to its customers. In the B2B segment, the company name is often identical to the brand name under which it operates. But in the consumer segment, companies operate under different names, often unknown to their customers. This is also the case in China.

Company registration and trademark registration are completely separate issues in each market. The availability of a company name is checked in the business registers to avoid the existence of two companies with identical names in a given market. In the case of trademarks, the availability of a brand name for registration is checked by assessing the chances of registering a trademark.

How to name your company in Chinese?

There are two aspects to naming a company in Chinese. The first relates to legal requirements, which in China dictate that a company registered in a particular city and product segment must have certain elements of the name that are required by law. For example, an import-export company registered in Shanghai must include the name of the city of Shanghai in its name (or China in the case of large, nationwide companies). The company must also have a distinguishing feature in the spelling of its name, which is often the brand under which it operates. For example, the name of China’s third largest telecommunications operator, Unicom, is formally 中國聯合網路通訊集團有限公司 (i.e. China Unicom Group Co., Ltd.). However, in common usage, the China Unicom trademark – 联通 (pronounced liántōng) – is used to describe the company.

When registering this company, its investors had to check with the company registry to see if another company with the same name had previously operated in China. They were able to register the name of that telecoms operator, meaning that after checking, they had the green light to use such a name. They had to check the availability of the China Unicom 联通 trademark itself in another place – the trademark database maintained by the Chinese Trademark Office (CNIPA). This is where they check whether a trademark is likely to be registered in a particular class.

How is a Chinese company name created?

A Chinese company name contains a certain unique part, which in most cases is also the trademark. Its creation should be well thought out, especially if you really want to stand out in the market. Formally, the differentiator may be a phonetic transcription of the original brand name, but if it is to convey a certain message about the company or its offering and be memorable to its customers, it is better to create it according to one of four schemes.

The first method is to ensure that the brand name created is phonetically identical to the original. The second method is to encode the intended, naturally readable meaning for the Chinese into the name. The third approach is to make the name phonetically consistent with the original and with the intended meaning for the brand. The fourth way is to compose the name as a combination of these features.

Interesting examples of names created can be found here.

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