Oriental Virgin

11 Mar 2007

Yesterday I saw this logo plastered on the wall of a construction site. It’s the logo for a new office tower in Shanghai.

Oriental Virgin

Apparently the recipe for their English name and logo went something like this:

1. Take a successful foreign company’s name and add “Oriental” to the front. Base the Chinese name on the English name.
2. Copy the logo of a different company, altering it a bit.

Sony Ericsson logo

I’m guessing that getting a sexually charged name like “Oriental Virgin” was pure “luck”…

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Maybe they meant “Oriental Viking”?

    http://www.google.cn/search?q=%E7%BB%B4%E4%BA%AC

  2. DalianDragon Says: March 11, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Wow! Those “kooky” unimaginative Chinese!

    P.S. Is it still considered “racist” when your comment about a race of peoples is TOTALLY JUSTIFIED ???

  3. Yep, that logo looks to me like it was designed by a committee of 1.3 billion people.

    What bugs me most about the Oriental Virgin logo is that the O is not seated properly on the line.

  4. Nicholas Says: March 11, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    I have to say you have an subtle eye. This is the first time I come here. I like your site.

  5. What this office tower used for?

  6. Pepe,

    Offices?

  7. Dan Maas Says: March 12, 2007 at 3:46 am

    One of these days Chinese companies will realize that the millions of dollars others spend on developing good brand names are not, after all, being wasted.

    (e.g. what non-Chinese is going to want an automobile called “Geely”?)

  8. Hair salons?

    You’re going to see a spike in Google referrals, I predict.

  9. LOL – good call, John!

  10. Hey, thats Sony and Niki combined, throw in a sexy name.
    What more do you want?

  11. Brilliant Best laugh I’ve had today. You’re on my china watch feed 🙂

  12. I bet they’d really be in hot water if they translated it as 东方处女, the actual translation of “Oriental Virgin.” But I actually like the sound of 东方处女–it has a sort of “ring” to it.

  13. Also, the “V” is not only the first letter of “virgin” but the “woman’s sign” according to Friday night’s film, “The Da Vinci Code”.

  14. Oriental Virgin…

    John’s got a new post at Sinosplice that pretty concisely sums up the problems with Chinese branding. Apparently a new office building opening up has chosen ‘Oriental Virgin’ as their office name – ripping off two corporate identities in the process…

  15. Why be original when it is so much cheaper just to copy?

  16. I don’t know what you guys’ beef with Oriental virgins is. I happen to love them myself.

  17. Reply to Dan Maas who says:
    One of these days Chinese companies will realize that the millions of dollars others spend on developing good brand names are not, after all, being wasted. (e.g. what non-Chinese is going to want an automobile called “Geely”?)

    Right on the first part, but poor (non sequitur?) example. You mean like what non-German would ever want to buy an automobile named Volkswagen (with Fahrvergnuegen) ??? Why is Geely worse than Volkswagen? or Mercedes-Benz? [Now if the name were “Jelly” instead of Geely, that would be different!]

  18. It’s just a company’s name. You cannot enlarge your scorn to the whole people of the country, yes? Everyone is different, and everyone is not what YOU think.

  19. In the silly car names department the Japanese are still ahead of the Chinese. What non-Japanese would want a van called “Bongo Friendy”?

  20. Ting Bu Dong Says: March 15, 2007 at 6:10 am

    Hippies , Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart?

  21. You think the guys in Britain that came up with Virgin Air for their airline name were “lucky” too? Maybe there’s an affiliation w/ this office space conglomerate.

  22. Reply to Dan Maas:Obviously prejudge…
    You just judge a product just by the name of it?
    Well I do know many people outside China want a Gelly just for its low price & quality.
    Will you change your mind when I tell you Gelly in Chinese means lucky & happiness?
    Well Volkswagen used to be a project carried out by the Nazis to promote military production?(It’s initial target is to make every workers in Germany a car..like in America)

  23. zhwj:
    The ‘O’ isn’t “seated properly on the line” because it straddles both English and Chinese; taking from one to give to the other.
    If that’s what bothers yu then I would suggest you reexamine your priorirites…

  24. It’s a big “O” – doesn’t matter how it’s seated.

    The whole thing is not much worse than logos and “sex sells” anywhere. Probably, hopefully, the English-fever in names and following of Western fashion will cool. (Geely is at least genuine, and clever marketing could overcome the Edelesque ring to it.) The legal angles are for the lawyers, but does a very local company anywhere have much to fear?

  25. Shanghai Slim Says: March 17, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Just for the record, the English pronounciation of Geely is”Jee-lee” (which sounds vastly better than “Gee-lee” with a “hard G”).

    I once did the English voice-over for a promotional video for Geely, and that’s how they wanted me to say it.

    Now, if I could just figure out how to pronounce “Gome” (Chinese name “Guo Mei”) …

  26. […] Meizu’s M8, China’s response to Apple’s iPhone; or this unbranded PSP phone; or Oriental Virgin’s rip-off of Sony Ericsson’s brand), there is plenty of genuine innovation too (such as AOpen and […]

  27. […] entities and still comes up with a laughable (but memorable) corporate logo. Further words fail. Courtesy of John at Sinosplice. Baked by Jeremiah @ 4:19 pm, Filed under: […]

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