Branding in Chinese, the Coca-Cola Story
The trademark of a company is its life. The Coca-Cola company has a great success in China, which has become China's leading soft drink company and one of the top U.S. companies in China. The Chinese trademark of Coca-cola is an important factor for the success.
The Coca-Cola company did a great job in seeking the best Chinese trademark. To get a good Chinese brand name is not an easy task and there are many ways to do it, which largely depends on the name of a company. The approach for the naming in the Coca-Cola case is to search the nearest phonetic equivalent. To achieve this, it will need a separate Chinese character for each of the four syllables, Coca-Cola. The closet meaningful match found was Ke3 Kou3 Ke3 Le4, which is shown in Chinese characters below.
Each of the Chinese characters has meanings:
Ke3 means approve; permit; may; can; good; appropriate.
Kou3 stands for mouth; hole; entrance. It looks like a mouth, right?
Le4 means happy; joyful; be glad to; enjoy; laugh.
When they are combined, the formed words usually have more definitive meanings:
Ke3kou3 stands for tasty; good to eat; palatable.
Ke3le4 = be happy. This is a hard one since we don't use the two characters together this way. Fortunately the first pair (Ke3kou3) is a common Chinese usage and there is also a 'Ke3' in it, so there is a parallel. Today ke3le4 has already become the Chinese synonym for soft drink.
So the Chinese trademark of Coca-Cola may mean 'tasty soft drink' or 'tasty and happy'.
This trademark is unique for the balance of the two parts, ke3kou3 and ke3le4. Ke3kou3 is related to food or drink itself, a very common usage, and nothing negative about it. Ke3le4 is a little unusual, or a little something different for the Chinese. An 'unusual' name may attract people's curiosity and it is particularly true for the Chinese since they had closed their door for so long. They want to try something new, even though they used to drink hot tea. It also adds some exotic taste to the brand. It is indeed a good name.
Pepsico followed the Coca-Cola trend. Pepsi-Cola was translated into Bai3 Shi4 Ke3 Le4. See the Chinese characters below.
Bai3 means hundred; numerous.
Shi4 stands for thing; matter; affair; post; business, etc.
Thus the Chinese trademark for Pepsi-Cola may mean 'everything laughable' or 'be happy with everything'. It is also a good trademark.