Recently I posted on LinkedIn the sale of an LLL (letter-letter-letter) .com domain in China. It triggered discussion among my readers and got me into thinking more about the future of acronym domains in China.
The US and China are the largest economies, and a recent Bloomberg article even went so far as to say that “China probably has become the world’s biggest economy“. In the minds of Chinese executives, therefore, they’ll serve consumers in China first, followed by the US and the rest of the world.
What kinds of brand names do Chinese consumers like? I’d speculate Pinyin words because we see them everywhere, with 2-pin being most popular. The big three in China are 百度(Baidu), 腾讯(Tencent), and 阿里巴巴(Alibaba). The first two are 2-pin and even the 4-pin Alibaba is often shortened as 2-pin “阿里”. In other words, names up to 3-pin are preferred and 4-pin is considered a bit long to remember.
While Pinyin is perfect in China, it becomes a problem outside the country. Many of such brands are difficult to pronounce. For example, Huawei is a global brand but IT World even named it the “most butchered name in technology“. See how funny it is in this YouTube video where some Americans on the street are asked to pronounce “Huawei”.
How do you bridge language gaps in different markets? My proposal to Chinese companies is acronym for Pinyin. If pronunciation is an issue, rebrand outside China as acronym. Its viability is already well proven, as evidenced in the success of IBM (USA), BMW (Germany), and LG (Korea). Interestingly, Chinese ecommerce giant 京东(Jing Dong) has gone to the extreme, by branding as “JD.com” both inside and outside China. This must be the ultimate in branding, where the digital address of a brand is the brand itself. So, Huawei could have branded itself simply as “HW.com”.
In short, LL and LLL .coms may be the best choices for Chinese companies with global aspiration. Acronym solves the language issue and .com remains King both inside and outside China. This is also reflected in my report “Domains used by China’s Top 100 internet companies” posted on industry magazine Domain Name Wire several months ago.
Join me on LinkedIn for further discussion.