A branding lesson from China.
As a student of the Chinese domain market, I try to take every opportunity to learn. Recently an old video clip of Xiaomi founder Jun LEI surfaced in the domain investor community, so I watched it — with much delight.
The video clip embededded below is very short. It was uploaded to YouTube recently but likely shot quite some time ago when Lei was much younger. In the video, Lei talked about choosing names for startups. Lei emphasizes that a good (brand) name is one that is meaningful and easy to pronounce, which also comes with the corresponding trademark and domain.
He sees the majority of entrepreneurs choosing 4-pin names but only 1% would succeed because the founders make greater efforts, starting from the moment of choosing a name.
Good names, he said, are those such as Lian Xiang (联想=Lenovo), Bai Du (百度=Baidu), Teng Xun (腾讯=Tencent), Hua Wei (华为=Huawei), and Zhong Xing (中兴=ZTE). Interestingly, all of them are 2-pin names -– and so is Xiao Mi (小米=Xiaomi). Now, as a domain student, I dug deep and used Baidu search to find out domains used by these 2-pin companies.
|Name||Chinese brand||English brand||Domain found||Comment|
|Lian Xiang||联想||Lenovo||Lenovo.com.cn||LianXiang.com does not resolve and LianXiang.cn is for sale|
|Bai Du||百度||Baidu||Baidu.com||Baidu.cn redirects to Baidu.com|
|Teng Xun||腾讯||Tencent||QQ.com||Also owns Tencent.com. Both TengXun.com and TengXun.cn do not resolve|
|Hua Wei||华为||Huawei||Huawei.com||Huawei.cn redirects to Huawei.com|
|Zhong Xing||中兴||ZTE||ZTE.com.cn||Also owns ZTE.com. ZhongXing.com is for sale and ZhongXing.cn does not resolve.|
So, what have I learned from these 5 companies?
- .com is important in China. Three out of the five companies also use .com in China.
- Domain matching English brand is more important than that matching Chinese brand, examples being Lenovo and ZTE.
- 2-pin domains are popular, such as Baidu.com, Huawei.com, and even Xiaomi.com.
Actually, Xiaomi is not very easy to pronounce outside China so it’s not globally oriented. That explains why the company invested $3.6 million in 2014 to acquire Mi.com as its new corporate domain.
Finally, I’d like to slightly modify Lei’s name requirement: a good (brand) name is one that is meaningful and easy to pronounce in China as well as the rest of the world, which also comes with the corresponding trademark and domain.