Companies in China Ask... What's In a Name Anyway?

| Fri Oct. 27, 2006 5:52 PM EDT

Chinese companies, popping up all over Shanghai and Beijing, bare a striking resemblance in name and/or logo to overseas companies, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. See below a picture of a Chinese local coffee shop called Shanghai Xingbake Cafe Corp.

 chinese_starbucks_web.gif

Look familiar? And the logo is not the only similarity. The word Xingbake means Starbucks in Chinese. Although Starbucks appears to be dealing with the most egregious copycat company, the American corporation is not alone. Here is a list of Chinese brands side by side their overseas predecessors.

chinese_starbucks_chart_web.gif

Advertising and branding experts excuse the Chinese companies saying the copycatters simply lack ingenuity and funds to pay for branding but others aren't willing to be so generous. Many companies are suing their mimics. Honda won a case against the Motorcycle company Hongda and GM and Chery, a Chinese car company, have recently reached a settlement. Most entertaining of all though are the excuses created by the copycatters. Chery claims its English name is based on the sound of Quirui, the Chinese name, which means "unusually lucky" and Shanghai Xingbake Cafe Corp claims its name is based on the character Simba in "The Lion King," which in Chinese is Xinba.

Hmmm…

For more branding wars and naming games, see Mother Jones's "What's in a Name."

Get Mother Jones by Email - Free. Like what you're reading? Get the best of MoJo three times a week.