36 Brand Names and Phrases in Chinese || The Complete Guide

36 Brand Names & Phrases in Chinese || What’s The Deal?

You may or may not be aware that many foreign brands have their own brand names in Chinese.

Adidas isn’t Adidas in China, it’s 阿迪达斯 (Ādídásī), or if you are super lucky you might stumble across an AIDADS or ADIODS sweater instead. Jackpot!

Before we get stuck into the good stuff, let’s learn some useful words beforehand:

  • Brand – 牌子 Páizi
  • Shopping – 购物 Gòuwù
  • Technology – 技术 Jìshù
  • Car Brands – 汽车品牌 Qìchē pǐnpái
  • Sports Brands – 体育品牌 Tǐyù pǐnpái
  • International Brands – 国际品牌 Guójì pǐnpái

牌子 Páizi or 品牌 pǐnpái can be used when talking about brands so listen out for, and learn both.

Anyway enough of all that…

We want to bring you some of the worlds most famous brands and teach you their brand names in Chinese. So let’s get going…

Brand Names in Chinese || Technology

Brand Names in Chinese || Sports

Brand Names in Chinese || Car

Brand Names in Chinese || Fashion

Brand Names in Chinese || Food and Drink

Brand Names in Chinese || Other Big Name Brands

BONUS || FREE Brands Quiz

Brand Names in Chinese || FAQs

Brand Names in Chinese
Some fast food brand names in Chinese

Tech Brands in Chinese

苹果 (Píngguǒ) — Apple

According to Steve Jobs, the brand’s name was inspired by his visit to an apple farm while on a fruitarian diet.

He believed the name “Apple” was “fun, spirited and not intimidating“. The Chinese brand, 苹果 (Píngguǒ) also literally means “apple“.

A basic example, but less is more for Apple, very much like their designs.

Brand Names in Chinese - Apple
Brand Names in Chinese – Apple

微软 (Wēiruǎn) — Microsoft

Just like Apple, Microsoft proposed a literal translation of the name of the brand too.

In fact, Microsoft in Chinese is 微软 ”Wéiruǎn”, where “wéi” is the word for “micro” and “ruǎn” is the word for “soft”.

Simple yet effective once again.

索尼 Suǒní — Sony

Sony, in full Sony Corporation, is a major Japanese manufacturer of consumer electronics products.

The brand name was derived from the Latin “Sonus” (“sound”) and it was conceived to be an international term.

索尼 (suǒ ní) is just a transliteration of the name, literally 索 “suǒ” – cable/rope + 尼 “ní” – Buddhist nun.

诺基亚 (Nuò jī yà) — Nokia

Brand Names in Chinese - Nokia
Brand Names in Chinese – Nokia

The name Nokia derived from the town where the first offices of the company were based, called precisely Nokia.

The Chinese name, 诺基亚 (nuò jī yà), once again, is just a transliteration of the name.

They get more interesting soon, trust us!

佳能 (Jiā néng) — Canon

Canon is a Japanese multinational corporation specializing in the manufacture of imaging and optical products (cameras, displays, TV, etc.)

The name Canon comes from Buddhist bodhisattva Guan Yin (観音, Kannon in Japanese), while the Chinese translation means “excellent” 佳 jiā + “capability/ability” 能 néng.

Very good connotations for the Chinese market!

三星 (Sānxīng) — Samsung

Samsung is a South Korean multinational conglomerate headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul.

As each Korean character has a corresponding Chinese character (before the creation of the Korean alphabet 15th century, the entire Korean Peninsula used Chinese characters), the corresponding Chinese characters to “삼성” are 三星 – sān xīng [samsʌŋ].

The name means “three stars“, which was the company’s first logo and which implies a business that would be huge and eternal.

Tech brand names in Chinese
Tech brand names in Chinese

Sports Brands in Chinese

阿迪达斯 (Ādídásī) — Adidas

Adidas, sorry I mean Abibas, is really popular in China!

The name Adidas is an abbreviation of the name of its German founder Adolf (“Adi”) Dassler.

In China, the brand has adopted a phonetic match to brand its name.

So 阿迪达斯 (Ādídásī) doesn’t mean anything in particular:

阿 (Ā) it’s a modal particle + 迪 ( ) “guide/enlighten” + 达 (dá) “to extend/ to reach + 斯 (sī) “this“.

That said, Adidas is incredibly popular in China, walking the streets you’ll do well to NOT stumble across it.

Likewise, it’s a brand where many rather hilarious fakes are sold, as you can see here!

耐克 (Nàikè) — Nike

Nike, instead, opted for a very close phonetic match and a totally appropriate meaning that fits the brand identity.

Nàikè (耐克) means “endure” 耐( Nài) and “overcome” 克 (kè)

Brand Names in Mandarin - Nike
Brand Names in Mandarin – Nike

锐步 (Ruìbù) — Reebok

Reebok is an American (formerly English) footwear and apparel company, a subsidiary of Adidas since 2005.

The name comes from the Afrikaans spelling of rhebok, a type of African antelope or gazelle. 

The Chinese name literally means “keen” 锐 (ruì) “step” 步 “bù”.

Car Brands in Chinese

宝马 (Bǎomǎ) — BMW

BMW is an acronym for Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, or in English, Bavarian Motor Works.

The Chinese name of the company is 宝马 (Bǎomǎ) and it means “precious horse“: 宝 (bǎo) precious + 马 (mǎ) horse.

Interestingly, as with many foreigner brands, the Chinese actually give the brand their own nicknames and BMW is one of those.

别摸我 (bié mō wǒ), or “don’t touch me.” is the name locals gave the brand BMW, which seemingly expresses how precious people consider their car.

保时捷 (Bǎoshíjié) — Porsche

Brand Names in Chinese - Porsche
Brand Names in Chinese – Porsche

Porsche gained its name from the company’s founder, Ferdinand Porsche, an Austrian-German automotive engineer.

The companies Chinese name is essentially a phonetic match

However, the name also suggests speed and timeliness, as 保 (Bǎo) means “to protect/to keep” + 时(shí) means “time” and 捷 (jié) means “quick“.

大众汽车 (Dàzhòng qìchē) — Volkswagen

Interesting example this one. Volkswagen is a car company from Germany as you’ll probably be aware.

Volkswagen in Chinese

The word volkswagen means “People’s car” in German.

It’s Chinese name 大众汽车 (Dàzhòng qìchē) is a pretty accurate description of the original German name, which means “the people’s car”.

However, the reasoning behind this choice goes slightly deeper, see the 2nd character. Looks a bit familiar right?

Volkswagen purposely chose this due to the fact it appears to look like a version of their very own logo >>> 众.

Coincidence? No, this was a carefully manufactured tactic which helped their popularity in China.

A great example of being concise about a Chinese brand name, and it paying off.

奔驰 (Bēnchí) Mercedez Benz

Emil Jellinek was an entrepreneur who worked with the Diamler Motors Corporation.

Jellinek named the new cars after his daughter Mercedes and trademarked the Mercedes name in 1902.

Its Chinese name 奔驰 (Bēnchí), which also sounds similar to “Benz”, is made of two characters “奔” and “驰” that both mean to “run fast” in Chinese.

捷豹 (Jiébào) — Jaguar

The first car to show the big feline was produced under the Swallow Sidecar name, in 1922.

The Chinese name of the brand 捷豹 (Jiébào) literally means “quick panther“.

Brand Names in Chinese - Cars
Brand Names in Chinese – Cars

Fashion Brands in Chinese

路易威登 (Lùyì Wēidēng) — Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton’s brand name 路易威登 (Lùyì Wēidēng) is a very close phonetic reproduction to its original name.

The first part 路易 (Lùyì) simply means Louis, 威 means “power” and 登 refers to ascending to great heights.

精工 (Jīnggōng) — Seiko

Seiko is a Japanese company that manufactures and sells watches, clocks, jewelry, etc.

Its original name Seikosha (精工舎, Seikōsha), means approximately “House of Exquisite Workmanship“.

The company name in Chinese is also written as “精工” (without 舎) and has the same meaning, the only difference is just the pronunciation of the first two Kanji in Chinese: “Jīnggōng“.

The word 精工 in Chinese actually means refined or delicate, depicting the brands precise and measured nature.

Brand Names in Chinese - Seiko
Brand Names in Chinese – Seiko

古驰 (Gǔchí) — Gucci 

Gucci is a luxury Italian brand of fashion and leather goods founded by Guccio Gucci in Florence.

Its name in Chinese, 古琦 (Gǔqí), is evidently a transliteration which means “ancient” 古(Gǔ) 驰 (chí) to gallop/to spread.

三脚马 (Sānjiǎo mǎ) Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren is an American clothing company named after his founder and designer and best known for his sportswear line Polo Ralph Lauren.

Its Chinese name, “三脚马” (Sānjiǎo mǎ), has nothing to do with the original one.

In fact, it is based on the company logo: 三脚马 (Sānjiǎo mǎ) means “horse with three legs”!

Food and Drink Brands in Chinese

可口可乐 (Kěkǒukělè) — Coca-Cola

Maybe the first Chinese name for “Coca-Cola” which meant “bite the wax tadpole” was a terrible idea, but the one the company came up with later on, just sounds perfect, firmly rubber-stamping their place as one of the worlds biggest brands.

可口可乐 (Kěkǒukělè) characters mean “to permit the mouth to be able to rejoice”.

So what makes it so special?

It not only sounds very similar to the original, which in itself is an achievement with translating a brand name to Chinese, but it’s also easy to pronounce, and it can also directly be translated as “delicious happiness”.

Brand Names in Chinese - Coca Cola
Brand Names in Chinese – Coca Cola

Not only does this hold great connotations to the Chinese market, but its a brand that is hard to mix up given the name is so similar…

… and that, in a nutshell is where so many brands in China have stumbled before.

Just to rubber stamp the great nature of the name, the characters it uses are also basic and “easy on the eye“.

Complex Chinese characters can turn off people who have no desire with the language, but even these characters are so easy to digest, everyone can get on board.

Well done Coca Cola.

麦当劳 (Màidāngláo) — McDonald’s

McDonald’s (麦当劳 – mài dāng láo) in Chinese literally means “wheat serves as labor” which doesn’t exactly describe fast food or the brand itself. 

So, we might assume its Chinese name was chosen simply because it sounds sort of like the original one.

汉堡王 (hàn bǎo wáng) — Burger King

Burger King, instead, opted for a literal translation of its name…

汉堡王 – hàn bǎo wáng): as 汉堡 (hàn bǎo) means “burger” and 王 (wáng) means “king“.

赛百味 (Sài bǎiwèi) — Subway

Subway for its Chinese name went for a combination of a similar sound and a special meaning: 赛百味 (sài bǎi wèi).

This is definitely a phonetic match, but the last two characters “百味” also mean “100 flavours” – a hint on showing what the brand offers to its customers, somewhere that provides everyone with their own favourite flavours.

Speaking of Subway, fancy learning a hack on how to order a Subway with just one word? Find out first…

喜力 (Xǐlì) — Heineken

Notice Heineken’s Chinese name: 喜力 (Xǐlì), which means “Happiness Power“. Doesn’t really sound like the original does it.

Neither does the meaning either, which in Dutch, is a surname meaning “son of little Hein”.

Why on earth did Heineken go with 喜力 (Xǐlì) then?

In this case, the brand picked two words with a positive connotation in order to be perceived as local.

百事可乐 (Bǎishìkělè) — Pepsi

Pepsi in Chinese is known as 百事可乐 (bǎi shì kě lè).

百事 bǎi shì means “everything/a hundred things”, and 可乐 (kě lè) which means “cola” also means something “joyful” or “worth laughing”.

Therefore “百事可乐 bǎi shì kě lè” in Chinese sounds like “everything is joyful”.

Brands in Chinese - Pepsi
Brands in Chinese – Pepsi

Interestingly, back in the day, Pepsi introduced their slogan about “coming alive with the Pepsi generation” into the Chinese market.

UNFORTUNATELY for them, they never did their research and found a pretty awkward translation which didn’t go down too well in China

“Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”

Want to launch your own brand in China? Tip #1 – DO.YOUR.RESEARCH.

星巴克 (xīng bā kè) — Starbucks

Starbucks’ Chinese name, 星巴克 (xīng bā kè), is a combination/mix between the translation of the first character and a phonetic transcription of the last two: the character 星 (xīng) means “star” and 巴克 (bā kè) is a purely phonetic transcription of “bucks”.

雀巢 (què cháo) — Nestle

The Swiss company Nestle owes its name to Henri Nestlé.

Its Chinese name is 雀巢 (què cháo), which means “sparrow’s nest” and comes from the company logo.

It is said to symbolize a mother (bird) taking care of her children and it’s also considered to be a reference to the family name, which means ‘nest’ in German.

Other Big Brand Names in Chinese

谷歌 (gǔ gē) — Google

The name “Google” originated from a misspelling of the word “googol” (10100) which denotes the large quantities of information the search engine can provide to its users.

In Chinese, the characters picked for Google are 谷歌 (gǔ gē.) The name literally means “Valley Song“, and is simply a phonetic match.

沃尔玛 (wò’ērmǎ) — Wal-Mart

The American multinational retail corporation Walmart is called 沃尔玛 (Wò’ērmǎ) in Chinese, which, of course, is a transliteration of the original name.

沃 (wò) “rich” + 尔 (ēr) “like that” + 玛 (mǎ) which is a character generally used to transliterate the sound “Ma” in Chinese.

Put together it doesn’t make much sense and is another example of a brand trying to make the name sound as familiar as it’s English equivalent.

Come and follow us around as we take you on a tour of Walmart in China

家乐福 (Jiālèfú) — Carrefour

The French multinational corporation Carrefour (literally “a junction where one street or road crosses another”) is called 家乐福 Jiālèfú in Chinese.

This name means “home” 家 (jiā), “happy“乐 (lè) and “good fortune” 福 (fú).

Certainly a fine effort to integrate into the Chinese market with three positive characters all moulded together.

高露洁 (gāo lù jié) — Colgate

The umbrella brand, principally used for oral hygiene products, was named after the company founder, William Colgate. 

Its Chinese name 高露洁 (gāo lù jié) might not sound like a perfect transliteration, but its meaning is unrivalled: “revealing superior cleanliness” (高 gāo “high/superior” + 露 lù “to reveal” +洁 jié “clean/ cleanliness”.

Brand Names in Chinese || Quiz

So, time to see how well you really know the brand names in Chinese with our free and fun quiz!

Are you ready…?!

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Brand Names in Chinese || FAQs

How do you say “Brand” in Chinese?

牌子 Páizi or 品牌 pǐnpái can be used when talking about brands so listen out for, and learn both.

What is Coca Cola’s brand name in Chinese?

Coca Cola in Chinese is 可口可乐 (Kěkǒukělè). The Chinese characters literally mean “to permit the mouth to be able to rejoice”.

What is Google’s brand name in Chinese?

In Chinese, the characters picked for Google are 谷歌 (gǔ gē.) The name literally means “Valley Song“, and is simply a phonetic match.

What is BMW’s brand name in Chinese?

The Chinese name of the company is 宝马 (Bǎomǎ) and it means “precious horse“: 宝 (bǎo) precious + 马 (mǎ) horse.

Why is Volkswagon’s brand name in Chinese so popular?

Volkswagen’s Chinese name 大众汽车 (Dàzhòng qìchē) is a pretty accurate description of the original German name, which means “the people’s car”.

However, the reasoning behind this choice goes slightly deeper, see the 2nd character. Looks a bit familiar right? Volkswagen purposely chose this due to the fact it appears to look like a version of their very own logo >>> 众.

Coincidence? No, this was a carefully manufactured tactic which helped their popularity in China.

Is having a Chinese brand name crucial for breaking into the Chinese market?

Having a Chinese brand name that has positive connotations in Chinese can be a huge benefit to a company. Examples such as Coca Cola and Volkswagen should be looked at.

On the flip-side there have been many name fails, where meanings are lost in translation, and therefore become the butt of the jokes in China.

Choosing the name, therefore should be a well thought out process.

What is Walmart’s brand name in Chinese?

沃尔玛 – 沃 (wò) “rich” + 尔 (ēr) “like that” + 玛 (mǎ) which is a character generally used to transliterate the sound “Ma” in Chinese.

What is Mishil brand?

Mishil is a brand that features in the 2020 Chinese TV Show Nothing but Thirty (三十而已).

The virtual brand has become popular due to the success of the show, but is not a real brand.

We wrote a review about the popular TV Show Nothing By Thirty here where you can discover more about Mishil Brand.

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  1. Matty

    I love the stories about Coca Cola and VW, shows you need to be smart to break into the Chinese market and take care with things like brand name.

    1. Max Hobbs

      Very cool isn’t it. Coca Cola did a marvellous job and the VW idea was a stroke of genius from the PR team to play on the character to benefit the brand.


  2. Very interesting, didn’t realise they all had completely separate brand names. Good to know

    1. Max Hobbs

      Absolutely yes, sometimes they go well, sometimes not! Important they do their research before inadvertently making some embarrassing mistakes!


  3. Terri

    Didn’t a brand have problems with China for causing offence in a video?

    1. Max Hobbs

      Yes indeed Dolce & Gabbana received a big hit in sales (in China) after releasing a video that, let’s say, didn’t go down too well in China!

      Google it Terri, you’ll find out much more!

  4. Maggie

    Finally I found out about Mishil, I’ve heard about this brand and found nothing on the Internet about it. Makes sense now

    1. Max Hobbs

      Glad we could be of help Maggie!

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  10. Valentina

    I see AIDADS a lot too!

    1. Max Hobbs

      Great brand!!