China Bans ‘Weird’ and Really Long Brand Names

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In what is seen as a blow to the Non-Existant Party for the Spontaneous Establishment of Chinese Corporate Branding Names, long names – and subjectively ‘weird’ names are now banned. Actually, this news is a little old, but since I only came across it today, I thought I’d share some of the more fun aspects of this otherwise very serious-sounding report.

First of all (and read this carefully), there is a group called: ‘There Is a Group of Young People With Dreams, Who Believe They Can Make the Wonders of Life Under the Leadership of Uncle Niu Internet Technology Co. Ltd.’ in Northern China. If we were to acronym it, we would still be left with the not-very-succinct and highly unmemorable: TGYPWDWBTCMWLULUNIT. We could section this off rather unhelpfully by noting the “Unit” at the end of the acronym, and condensing it to simply “TGYPWDWBTCMWLUL Unit”, but then, the full-flow of ‘There Is a Group of Young People With Dreams, Who Believe They Can Make the Wonders of Life Under the Leadership of Uncle Niu Internet Technology Co. Ltd.’ is so sentimentally aspiring-sounding that memorizing it might be more of a joy than a task. Which should be the case, since this company is actually a condom manufacturer with a dream of sending Chinese manufactured condoms all over the world.

The stamp of registration for Uncle Niu’s seriously long company name.

This enormous name (in Chinese 宝鸡有一群怀揣着梦想的少年相信在牛大叔的带领下会创造生命的奇迹网络科技有限公司) has gotten them off to a good start, as the name went viral in China and hence you are reading about it here. Due to the name and also a song penned by Uncle Niu, the company has been dubbed the “most sentimental” brand in China. Uncle Niu described the naming process matter-of-factly: “The name is the collective creation of all the company’s partners. Everyone worked very hard, searching for their dreams. At the same time, out of their trust in me, they wanted to work together to create this miracle, and finally decided to use that name.” Sentimentality, hard work and a bit of daring.

Good recipe but I doubt it would work in the West. The longest brand name I could find was the 25-lettered “Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific!”, which I’ve personally never heard of, so I guess it didn’t work. “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!” came a close second, which is a brand name I know and admired right from the start.

Back to China, some of the other names which have now been banned include some quite blatantly created under fear of beloved spouses. For example, “Anping County Scared of Wife Netting Products Factory”: do these guys make nets with which to trap enraged wives? I picture a fuming wife enmeshed in her rage while a relieved man heads out to the pub with his “friends” *coughmistresscough*. ‘Beijing Under My Wife’s Thumb Technology Co. Ltd.’ is more subdued, and she is probably pretty happy with that name.

But then, there is adding a touch of superstition name. When I first read “Shenyang Prehistoric Powers Hotel Management Limited Company” I didn’t know what to think. Prehistoric powers? Sounds pretty awesome, right? Well, it is. If you were thinking of harnessing the powers of dinosaurs, then you would be sadly, incorrect. “Prehistoric powers” (or elsewhere translated as “Great Desolate Energy Force”) was referencing a Chinese fantasy television series. If you think that is silly, then Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui, who harnessed the awesome energy force would elegantly place a shiny bronze medal beneath your disbelieving nose. When it comes to naming your company, it is hard to go past evidence-based, winning formulas that combine the ancient with the new, desolate forces, living memes and a backstroking water maiden. Unfortunately for the company, it wasn’t the length of the name which caused it to be banned, it was the fact that it relied on internet memes where Fu’s “prehistoric powers” phrase caught viral media attention in China. Piggybacking on top of memes is a new no-go.

There’s quite a long and extensive list of name-types that are no longer allowed. To make a boring list fun, here are names that would definitely not be allowed in China today (and the reasons why):

  • Large Landowner’s Hamburgers (actually, that was already an example given, there is some political connotation there which I don’t get)
  • Bin Laden Construction Company (which actually exists in the Middle East, but the terrorism reference would ban it in China)
  • Yamato’s Tomatoes (Yamato is the old name for Japan, colonial references not allowed)
  • Falun’s Gong Shop (no references allowed for illegal organisations)
  • Pheonix Cloud Airlines (referring to an old feudal superstition that seeing a phoenix in the sky is a sign of prosperity; superstitions = no no.
  • No drug, erotic, gambling or obscene references obviously enough
  • No references to current and revolutionary Chinese leaders or the People’s Liberation Army
  • Whitey’s Whitening Cream; Silly Chick Lipstick; Urban Uighur’s Real Estate would all be banned for racial, gender and ethnic reasons.
  • No references to religious organizations or significant religious elements
  • Lawrence of Australia’s Naming Service I think would be banned since it is not allowed to have a country’s name in your company name. Regions are also not allowed.
  • Helping Hands Not-for-Profit Missionary Service would be banned for its allusion to being a not-for-profit.
  • Names that include names of political parties, organizations, and designation of troops;
  • Name of region, industry, and organization structure (Beijing Wine LLC would be frowned upon 3 times there)
  • Prostitute Textiles would not be allowed; not because of the logic, but because of the mentioning of an illicit industry.
  • Names that mimic existing brands are finally prohibited, so hopefully (but somewhat sadly), we can say goodbye to Sunbuck’s, Johnny Worker Red Labiel, Skerpies, Adidos or (last but not least), “You Butter Believe It’s Not Butter”.
  • Because you are not allowed to use words like “best” and “national”, “Best Breast Pumps in the World” would not cut it, nor would “National Breast Pumps”, and particularly not “National Emporium of Best Breast Pumps Eternally Limited”
  • Lawyer’s Lexicon, Barrister’s Bar, Sergeant Wu’s Bagpipes and Constable Lim’s Handcuffs for the Unemployed would all be scrapped (no names of occupations, positions, degrees, job titles, military ranks, and police ranks allowed).

It’s quite interesting learning about the naming procedures and customs of other cultures. Feel free to comment below.


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