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February 21, 2016 (Sun)

Domain Names and Cultural Norms


I think use of domain names must follow cultural norms. In China, companies are usually not known by their long, legal names. Very often, their legal names are shortened to just two Chinese characters and then promoted to consumers. In other words, consumers remember a company's name as a two-character Chinese name.

For example, Baidu's legal name is 百度在线网络技术(北京)有限公司 but it's known as 百度, the first two characters of its legal name. In a similar way, Tencent's legal name is 騰訊控股有限公司but it's simply known as 騰訊, again the first two characters of its legal name. Even foreign companies follow this rule when their names are translated to Chinese, e.g. Microsoft (微软) and Google (谷歌).

And here is what I see as the trend on domain name strategy by companies in China. The center of their domain universe will be .com (ASCII not IDN) but their consumer facing domain names will be Chinese IDN.IDN which redirect back to .com.

Which Chinese IDN extension will be the best choice for Chinese companies? It's too early to tell at this stage, but I like .公司 (company) because these two characters are usually part of a company's legal name. See the examples on Baidu and Tencent above. 百度.公司 (Baidu company) or 騰訊.公司 (Tencent company) are easy to remember for consumers.