Pinyin domains and branding opportunities in China
May 11, 2019 (Sat). Pinyin domains are important to corporate China because the majority of business names use Chinese characters and Chinese characters can be represented by Pinyin words. However, Pinyin words have a common problem, which may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
First thing first, Chinese people read and write using Chinese characters. This has been going on for thousands of years. In 1950s, however, the Chinese government introduced Pinyin to elementary schools in order to improve the literacy rate. Today, Pinyin plays a very important role because it enables users to enter Chinese characters on their mobile devices.
There is a problem when using Pinyin words: each word may represent one or more Chinese characters. For example, "bai" may refer to about 100 Chinese characters such as 白 (white), 百 (hundreds), and 败 (fail); and "du" may have about 80 possibilities such as 度 (degrees), 读 (read), and 毒 (poison). When you combine two Pinyin words to form a phrase, it can still point to multiple Chinese phrases. In the case of "bai du", it may mean 百度 (hundreds of times), 拜读 (read with reverence), 百毒 (hundreds of poisons), and many more. The top Chinese search engine Baidu.com refers to the Chinese phrase 百度 (hundreds of times) to imply "searching hundreds of times".
As you can see, a problem arises in daily conversation when you use a Pinyin phrase: your audience may not know the meaning you want to convey. However, this apparent drawback of Pinyin may turn out to be a blessing in domain investment. If you own a Pinyin domain, it may contain multiple meanings, which in turn can be used to create brands for use in different business fields. For example, Baidu.com can also be used in publishing if it takes on the "read with reverence" meaning, or in Chinese medicine if it takes on the "hundreds of poisons" meaning.
Therefore, before you acquire a Pinyin domain, do research and find out all of its possible meanings and compile a list of brands and applicable business fields. The more fields the domain can represent, the more valuable it becomes.
One final advice: make sure the Pinyin domain can also be pronounced and used outside China. The internet is global after all.