A Chinese company has just proved that choosing a name in China is tricky both for foreign and local firms. Last year, Airbnb made headlines after netizens made fun of its strange-sounding Chinese name Aibiying (爱彼迎, lit. “to welcome each other with love”). Last week, however, one Chinese delivery company renamed itself Fast Dog (Kuaigou Dache 快狗打车) and inadvertently insulted their drivers.
Logistics platform 58 Suyun (58速运) changed its name to Fast Dog on August 19 causing an uproar among employees. In Chinese, the word “dog” can be used as an insult meaning “damned” and is used in several derogatory expressions. Some of the drivers saw the name change as an attack on their dignity. One driver noted that introducing themselves as Fast Dog to clients will sound like they are cursing them.
The poor choice of animal was not the only confusing part of the 58 Suyun’s branding endeavor. The company’s new name also wrongly implies that the service will transport passengers since “dache” (打车) means “call a taxi.” The company has issued a statement on August 20 apologizing for the confusion:
Kuaigou Dache is the name of our business app platform and specifically refers to hauling goods (businessmen), moving (family), transportation (all kinds of goods), and other needed scenarios through the app platform quickly and conveniently. Except for the name of the business platform, the name has no other meanings.
58 Suyun merged with Hong Kong delivery startup GOGOVAN, known as “Uber for delivery,” in August 2017 creating a $1 billion-worth logistics giant. The company completed the first phase of a $250 million financing in July this year. The financing was led by InnoVision Capital, Alibaba’s logistics company Cainiao, Russia-China Investment Fund, Hongrun Capital, Qianhai Fund of Funds, and its parent company. 58 Suyun operates under 58 Home, a subsidiary of New York-listed 58.com.
As of July this year, the platform has more than 1 million registered drivers, covering six countries and regions, 339 cities, with nearly 8 million users.