Another example of the importance of transcreation is the brand names on the Chinese market.
In China pronunciation-based translation for names is very popular. Yet, there can be some unwanted consequences. That’s why many foreign brands decided to come up with a new brand name instead of using the Chinese pronunciation of it.
Some Significant Cases
For instance, Apple realized that the sound-based translation would harm their brand reputation. Since it would have been either “爱炮” Aipao (“Love Cannon”) or “阿婆” Apo (“Grandma”). Instead, they translated it to Chinese and run by the name “苹果” Pingguo. – Imagine upgrading to the new Grandma 12 pro max!
Audi decided to stick to its original name but with Chinese pronunciation and worked out very well for them. Audi translates to “奥迪” Aodi which is the Chinese way of pronouncing it. The literal meaning behind the name is “profound enlightenment”. Brilliant choice!
Arla, the largest diary producer in Scandinavia went through rebranding for the sake of the Chinese market. Just like Audi, they kept their name and gave a little Chinese twist to it. “阿尔乐” Aerle which doesn’t really have an actually meaning, but it includes words such as “you” and “happy. It gives a warm, fuzzy feeling for the customers.
Mercedes Benz wasn’t so lucky though.
The German luxury car giant had it tough on the Chinese market with its poorly translated brand name. The German car giant entered the Chinese market under the name of ”奔死” Bensi which literally translates to “Rush to your death” in Mandarin. Luckily, Mercedes-Benz quickly realized and changed its name to “奔驰” Ben Chi which translates to “Dashing speed”. A small but drastic change in the meaning.