How should this publicly traded company brand itself for an international audience?
When you see the name “Li Auto”, what do you think of? It suggests to me a car repair shop operating in my neighborhood. Well, Li Auto is actually a rising star in the new wave of electric cars in China.
Li Auto is the English name of Lixiang, which I profiled in “Is your ideal car Lixiang?” Founded in 2015, Lixiang went public on the Nasdaq in just 5 years, followed by a planned listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange this month. So the company is well-funded for rebranding and domain acquisition.
Li Auto operates from Lixiang.com, but no English content is provided, suggesting it is still a domestic business. This may be a good time to consider their brand/domain strategy and prepare for the global market. Below are three options I propose.
Brand: Li (Li.com)
Since it is already called “Li Auto”, upgrading to “Li” will be straightforward. The name is short and easy to remember. However, the matching domain Li.com is operated by Legatum Institute, a London-based think-tank. The institute also owns LegatumInstitute.com, which forwards to Li.com. So, acquiring Li.com from Legatum Institute may be difficult.
Brand: Lixiang (Lixiang.com)
This is the least expensive option. Just stop using the “Li Auto” name but extend the brand “Lixiang” and domain Lixiang.com beyond China. You may think “Lixiang” is hard to pronounce outside China. However, there are many brands with similar issues that are still globally successful, such as Mercedes-Benz (Mercedes-Benz.com), Mitsubishi (Mitsubishi.com), and Huawei (Huawei.com).
Brand: Ideal (Ideal.com)
Lixiang (理想) means “Ideal”, which can be an excellent brand. The name is short and positive, and it inspires car owners to dream. Unfortunately, the matching domain Ideal.com is already a site operated by AI startup Ideal. The good news is that the company was bought out in April this year, so there is a chance to acquire the domain.
What would you recommend to Lixiang?