Famous Asian Brands: How They Got Their Names – Part II

More and more Asian brands are making their way around the globe, becoming more easily recognizable based on their logo and unique visual cues.

Not only are they embedding themselves into the public consciousness, across a wide range of countries and cultures, they are also proving an abundant source of inspiration for start-up businesses looking to capture similar success.

We thought it would be fun to have a look at the story behind the names. Some you already know, others maybe you don’t, but all are quite interesting!


This is Part Two, you can go here for Part One.



Jollibee - Branding in Asia

Abbreviated as “JFC”, Jollibee Foods Corporation is a multinational chain of fast food restaurants with its main headquarters in Manila. The brand is often dubbed as Asia’s answer to McDonald’s and has 2,510 stores worldwide. The fast food chain’s name is inspired by a ‘Jolly Bee’ but has undergone several spelling changes over the years. The first store was named ‘Jolibe’, which was then changed to ‘Jolibee’ and eventually ‘Jollibee’ after a deliberate branding strategy.



Taobao - Branding in Asia

Similar to Amazon and eBay, Taobao Marketplace (formerly known as ‘Taobao) is a Chinese online shopping website, which is operated by the Alibaba Group. It was founded in 2003 and also provides a platform for small businesses to open online stores to cater to consumer-needs. The name of the website was decided by the owner (Alibaba Group) and means “searching for treasure website”. Their main services include Tmall, Mascot, Alipay, AliWangWang, Happy Taobao, and Taobao Agents.

Lenovo – Innovation Never Stands Still

Lenovo - Branding in Asia

Founded in 1984, Lenovo is a Chinese multinational computer technology company that manufactures, designs, develops, and sells electronic storage devices, servers, workstations, smartphones, and tablet computers. The brand’s name is a conflation of “Le” (from the word Legend) and “Novo” (Latin denotation for ‘new’) and means “Association” in Chinese or “Connected Thinking”. For years, the brand used the English name ‘Legend’, but in 2002 the CEO decided to expand internationally by using the Lenovo name. As a result, the company spent over 200 million RMB on rebranding.

Toshiba – Committed to People, Committed to the Future

Toshiba - Branding in Asia

Headquartered in Tokyo, Toshiba Corporation (simply known and stylized as “TOSHIBA”) is a Japanese multinational conglomerate that specializes in a wide range of consumer and business products. The brand was founded through the merger of Shibaura Seisaku-sho and Tokyo Denki as “Tokyo Shibaura Electric K.K” in 1939. However, it was soon nicknamed Toshiba (Tokyo Shibaura), but didn’t use the name until its official rebranding to ‘Toshiba Corporation’ in 1978.

Tencent – We aim to create value for our users

Tencent - Branding in Asia

Founded in 1988, Tencent is a Chinese investment holding company headquartered in the Nashan District of Shenzhen. The brand is the owner of Riot Games and Epic Games and produces multiplayer online games, antivirus software, web browser, e-commerce websites, web-portals, and internet and mobile phone value-added services. Ma Huateng the founder had his father helped him register the name Tengxun, which translates into “galloping message.” For non-Chinese speakers, Ma went with the easier-to-pronounce Tencent.

Samsung – Inspire the World

samsung - Branding in Asia

Established in 1938, Samsung is a South Korean multinational conglomerate company that mainly produces a wide range consumer electronics and even the chips that go in the iPhones. It is the largest conglomerate in South Korea and takes its name from a Korean Hanja word which means “three stars”, the three representing “Big, Numerous and Powerful”.

Panasonic – A Better Life, A Better World

Panasonic - Branding in Asia

Formerly known as “Matsushita Electric Industrial Co”, Panasonic is a Japanese multinational corporation that has grown to be one of the largest electronics manufacturers alongside Canon, Toshiba, Hitachi, and Sony. The brand chose the name Panasonic because it was unable to use its existing ‘National’ brand in the US (as there were already an abundance of companies with ‘national’ in their names). As a result, the Panasonic name was created by Matsushita with “Pana” (meaning – all) and “Sonic” (meaning – sound).

Tiger Beer – Uncage

Tiger Beer - Branding in Asia

Tiger Beer is an Asian brewery brand that produces and sells a wide range of beers. It was founded in 1932 and is owned by Heineken Asia Pacific. The brand is responsible for introducing Singapore’s first locally brewed beer and is available in more than 60 countries worldwide. The brand’s name is inspired by the animal ‘Tiger’ and indicates the strength of the beer itself. (You likely figured that already for yourself!)

Chang Beer – We Brew Friendship

Chang Beer - Branding in Asia

Chang Beer is a part of Thailand’s largest and one of Southeast Asia’s biggest beverage companies, Thai Beverage. It is the most popular pale lager beer of choice among Thailand’s citizens and produces most of the profits for the Thai Beverage Public Company Limited. The brand takes its name from the Thai word for elephant, “Chang”, (due to the animal’s historical and cultural significance in Thailand). And, this can even be seen in the brand’s logo, which features two elephants facing one another.

Banyan Tree – Your Sanctuary For Your Senses

Banyan Tree Resorts- Branding in Asia

Founded in 1994, Banyan Tree Holdings Company is an international hospitality brand responsible for developing, managing, and selling spas, resorts, and hotels in the Middle East, Africa, America, and Asia. The brand name was taken from the fishing village Banyan Tree Bay on Hong Kong’s Lamma Island where founders Ho Kwon Ping and his wife Claire Chiang had lived for three idyllic years.

Tata Motors – More Dreams Per Car

Tata Motors- Branding in Asia

Formerly known as Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company, Tata Motors is an Indian automobile manufacturing company that specializes mainly in producing military vehicles, buses, coaches, and passenger vehicles. It is the world’s 17th largest automobile manufacturer and takes its name from its founder, J.R.D. Tata. The brand has 66,593 employees worldwide and generates more than $42.4 million in yearly revenue.

Trung Nguyen

Trung Nguyen- Branding in Asia

Established in 1996, Trung Nguyen is a Vietnamese group that produces, distributes, and processes coffee. It is the largest coffee brand in Vietnam and sells fresh coffee, instant coffee, roasted and ground coffee, and bean coffee in more than 60 countries worldwide. The brand takes its name from the company’s owner and CEO Đặng Lê Nguyên Vũ, who is considered Vietnam’s Coffee King.

Tech Mahindra – Create the Next Wave

Tech Mahindra- Branding in Asia

Founded in 1986, Tech Mahindra Limited is an Indian Multinational IT company that mainly specializes in providing outsourcing, business consulting, and IT-related services. The brand has operations in more than 51 countries and was initially known as Mahindra-British Telecom. However, after the exit of British Telecom the brand was renamed Tech Mahindra (influenced by the owner’s name, Anand Mahindra).

Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung- Branding in Asia

Originating in Taiwan, Din Tai Fung is a restaurant popular for its xiaolongbao (soup dumplings). The brand has branches in 10 countries, including Thailand, the US, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, and Australia. It was founded by Yang Bingy, whose first job was working as a deliveryman at a store called Heng Tai Fung. Within two years, Bingy was put in charge of the store’s accounts, but due to financial losses it was forced to shut down, hence leaving Bingy unemployed. It was during this time Yang Bingy decided to open his own oil shop purchased from Din Mei Oils. As a result, to show his appreciation to his previous boss, Bingy named his new store Din Tai Fung, a conflation of the name of his previous boss and new partner.

Haier – Inspired Living

Haier- Branding in Asia

Founded in 1984, the Haier Group is a Chinese multinational home appliances and consumer electronics manufacturing company that designs, develops, and sells products including TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, microwave ovens, computers, mobile phones, and air conditioners. The brand was initially known as Qingdao Refrigerator Co, but after diversifying its product line beyond refrigerators, the company adopted the German name of its partner “Haier” in 1991.

What about your brand? What’s the story behind the name? I’d love to hear it. Drop me a line: [email protected] and share your story with me and my readers.


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