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Purpose – The purpose of this paper was to conduct an experimental design of Americans’ preferences for the English version of Chinese brand names by drawing from prior research in psychology, linguistics and marketing. The impact of string length and semantic relevance to English on meaningfulness, memorability and likeability of brand names from Chinese companies was assessed. Design/methodology/approach – A 2 × 2 experimental design was used, whereby brand names are categorized by string length (short vs long) and semantic relevance to English (with vs without). Respondents’ perception of the Chinese language in terms of pronounceability, language familiarity and language attitude is used as covariate. Findings – Results reveal shorter brand names, and those with semantic relevance to English are perceived as more memorable. It was also found that pronounceability of the brand name does influence brand name preference in terms of their meaningfulness, memorability and likeability. Research limitations/implications – This exploratory paper is limited to Americans’ perceptions of the English version of Chinese automobile brand names. Practical implications – Chinese companies should therefore carefully consider the brand name characteristics in terms of string length and semantic relevance, as well as their ease of pronunciation when choosing and introducing their brand name in the USA. Originality/value – This is the first paper which assesses Western consumers’ perception of brand names from Chinese automobile companies in terms of their brand meaningfulness, brand memorability and brand likeability.

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Journal of Product & Brand Mangement