Haier invests in South Carolina

Bruce Einhorn

If ever a Chinese company needed a new brand, it’s white-goods and consumer-electronics maker Haier. The company is a success story, with its refrigerators and washing machines and TVs selling well in China and, increasingly, in the U.S. and other foreign countries. But what sort of a name is Haier? Other Chinese companies have come up with good brands to use when marketing overseas: Think about Lenovo, the PC maker, and TCL, the TV company. In Chinese, the name Haier doesn’t do much: The first character is “sea” and the second is just a sort of an empty stand-in, a character that the Chinese use when phonetically writing foreign words. But at least a Chinese person knows how to say the name. For a native English speaker without a clue about how you have to split the name up in two (“hi” and “are”) those three vowels all in row can render the word unpronounceable.

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