Lost in translation.
After a hard day's work in Beijing, you might enjoy changing
into a pair of Enduring and Persevering, revving up your Precious Horse,
and meeting friends for a couple of Tasty Funs. To Westerners,
that's Nike, BMW, and Coke, respectively. In China, where names can
make or break products, Western companies are revamping brand names so
they resonate with China's exploding middle class. Ideally, the
Mandarin name will both sound like the Western one and convey the
product's essence. Lay's snack foods, for example, went with
Le shi, or Happy Things, and Reebok with Rui bu, or Quick Steps. But
translations can get tricky, as Microsoft learned when it launched its
Bing search engine. Common definitions of the Chinese character
pronounced "bing" include "disease,"
"defect," and "virus." So the Microsoft team made a
slight tweak: Bi ying, which means "responds without fail."
Name Name Translation
Coke Ke Kou Tasty Fun
Nike Nai Ke Enduring
BMW Bao Ma Precious
Colgate Gao Lu Revealing
Snickers Shi Li Honorary