How to say these brand names in Chinese

We come across various international brand names in our daily lives. They may be very familiar to you, yet if you hear Chinese people talking about them, you might not be able to recognize these brands so easily. This is because the majority of these names are translated from their alphabetical names into the equivalent Chinese characters, so as to appeal more to local Chinese people. If you are not aware of this, it might even be difficult to order a cup of “Cola” in McDonald’s, or maybe worse, you can’t even ask where the McDonald’s is, because McDonald’s is “麦当劳mài dāng láo” instead.

Many brand names are translated based on their pronunciations, for example:  

Coca Cola         kě kǒu kě lè 可口可乐

McDonald’s        mài dāng láo  麦当劳

Starbucks          xīng bā kè 星巴克

Some are translated based on its meaning, for example:

Ice tea                 bīng chá 冰茶

Apple                  píng guǒ 苹果

Burger King       hàn bǎo wáng汉堡王

Some are translated with a combination of the sound and meaning:

Canon                jiā néng佳能

BMW                  bǎo mǎ 宝马

Heineken           xǐ lì喜力

Let’s take a look at more examples:

Drinks:

Coca-Cola                              可口可乐 kě kǒu kě lè

Pepsi                                      百事可乐 bǎi shì kě lè

7 up                                        七喜 qī xǐ

Fanta                                      芬达 fēn dá

Ice tea                                    冰爽茶 bīng shuǎng chá

Heineken                               喜力 xǐ lì

Fastfood chain stores:

McDonald’s                          麦当劳 mài dāng láo

KFC                                     肯德基 kěn dé jī

Pizza Hut                             必胜客 bì shèng kè

Burger King                         汉堡王 hàn bǎo wáng

Subway                               赛百味 sài bǎi wèi

Starbucks                           星巴克 xīng bā kè

Electronics:

Apple                                  苹果 píng guǒ

Philip                                  飞利浦 fēi lì pǔ

Bosch                                 博世 bó shì

Acer                                    宏碁 hóng jī

Epson                                易普生 yì pǔ shēng

Sony                                  索尼 suǒ ní

Canon                                佳能 jiā néng

Nikon                                  尼康 ní kāng

Nokia                                 诺基亚 nuò jī yà

Samsung                           三星 sān xīng

Blackberry                         黑莓 hēi méi

Lenovo                               联想 lián xiǎng

Siemens                            西门子 xī mén zǐ

Panasonic                         松下 sōng xià

Toshiba                             东芝 dōng zhī

HP                                     惠普 huì pǔ

Asus                                  华硕 huá shuò

Dell                                    戴尔 dài ěr

Fashion:

Gucci                                 古驰 gǔ chí

Chanel                               香奈儿 xiāng nài ěr

Luis Vuitton                       路易威登 lù yì wēi dēng

Hermes                             爱马仕 ài mǎ shì

Prada                                普拉达 pǔ lā dá

Armani                               阿玛尼 ā mǎ ní

Versace                            范思哲 fàn sī zhé

Dior                                   迪奥 dí ào

Givenchy                           纪梵希 jì fán xī

Cartier                              卡地亚 kǎ dì yà

Patek Philippe                  百达翡丽 bǎi dá fěi lì

Rolex                                劳力士 láo lì shì

OMEGA                            欧米茄 ōu mǐ jiā

Longines                           浪琴 làng qín

Cars:

BMW                                 宝马 bǎo mǎ

Audi                                   奥迪 ào dí

Benz                                  奔驰 bēn chí

Porsche                            保时捷 bǎo shí jié

Toyota                               丰田 fēng tián

Honda                               本田 běn tián

Volkswagen                      大众 dà zhòng

Buick                                 别克 bié kè

Ford                                  福特 fú tè

Volvo                                沃尔沃 wò ěr wò

Skoda                              斯柯达 sī kē dá

Some Chinese names add a special appeal to the brand. Coca Cola可口可乐kě  kǒu kě lè and Pepsi Cola are good examples. “可乐 kě lè” means something “joyful” or “worth laughing”, indicating “Cola” is a joyful or interesting drink. Further, “可口kě  kǒu” means something “delicious” or “tasty”, thus “Coca- Cola” is “deliciously joyful”.  In the case of Pepsi Cola百事可乐, “百事 bǎi shì” in Chinese means “a hundred things” or “everything”, and “Pepsi”, namely “百事可乐bǎi shì kě lè” in Chinese can be associated as “everything is joyful”. Another examples are “BMW” and “Benz”. BMW, 宝马 bǎo mǎ in Chinese,  word by word means “precious/treasured horse”, and Benz奔驰  bēn chí, literally means “running” or “sprinting”. Both names give people a feeling of running fast, thus very suitable for the cars.

What is your favourite brand name translation, and why? Share them with us!

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