Importance of Language and Cultural Support in your Chinese Branding Journey

Take care using numbers in your Chinese marketing

One: might be the loneliest number (as the song goes – Harry Nilsson and the Beatles) but Jack Ma and Alibaba turned it into Singles Day (光棍节) – a behemoth online Chinese shopping bonanza and a play on the word “one” (11th day of the 11th  month) four ‘ones’ to represent four singles as a counterbalance to Valentine’s Day. 

In 2021, Alibaba and JD (a competitive platform) reached a new combined Singles Day sales record of US$139 billion in goods sold online having enjoyed annual increases every year up reaching into 3 digits.

Eight: if you see a number plate or mobile phone number with a few 8s in it – it is bound to be a Chinese owner.  It actually comes from the pronunciation of ‘eight’ (ba) which sounds like ‘fortune (fa). Who can forget that the Beijing Olympics started at 8 minutes past 8 on 8 August 2008!

Australia also got into the act in 2014 when the Australian Department of Home Affairs renamed their previous Business Skills (provisional) visa subclasses 160–165 to 188 and 888 Subclasses so as to be more appealing to Chinese applicants. 

In 2003, the phone number “+86 28 8888 8888” was sold to Sichuan Airlines for CN¥2.33 million (almost half a million Aussie dollars). 

A lot of airlines use 8 in flight numbers to/from China.

88 floors is a popular height for buildings and many of them omit floors with ‘4’ in the number, while apartments on a floor with an 8 in it sell at a premium.

Four: In Chinese (Korean and Japanese), some people consider “four” to be an unlucky number, as the pronunciation of the number four is similar to “death”;  many people don’t like car number plates with four in them. Some businesses try to avoid using 4 on products exported to China preferring to choose 8.

Lucky Fours

However, in traditional Chinese culture, the number four, an even number, is considered auspicious and not ominous.  The “four aggregates” in traditional Chinese culture symbolises perfection; the year is divided into four seasons, the land is divided into four directions, cities are divided into four levels of suburbs, and you need to prepare four gifts when giving to others.  And for those who like mahjong? Four is everywhere!

In Chinese culture and religion, there are also the four heavenly kings (Buddhist gods), four guardian warriors (four sacred imaginary animals), and four great beauties (four Chinese women renowned for their beauty in ancient China and now subject of legend).

A Little Knowledge about Chinese Culture is Dangerous

A real estate agency in Sydney was selling a house in exclusive Vaucluse with the house number four, but because of the perceived negative view about 4, they changed it to 2B hoping for a Chinese buyer. In fact, it would’ve been much better to just leave it as it was (2B is a colloquial way to call someone an idiot in Chinese!). A little knowledge is a dangerous thing in the world of language!

In Australia, there are many things related to four.

The “Big Four” banks

NAB, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and ANZ, similar to China’s big four banks: ICBC, AgBank, BOC and CCB.

Four Corners program by ABC

This program is a must if you want to see media investigations on major issues.

The four most important annual tennis events -The Grand Slam

The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open are known together as the Grand Slam, and Melbourne hosts the Australian Open every year.

Australia’s top four wine regions

Australian wine is famous around the world and we have many famous regions.  Four of the most famous are: Barossa Valley, Yarra Valley, Margaret River and Hunter Valley.

Four most famous wineries in Australia

There are thousands of wineries in Australia, below are perhaps the four best-known wineries to Chinese:

  1. Ranked No. 1 is without any doubt Penfolds. Penfolds is Australia’s most famous winery, considered an icon and like royalty in the Australian wine industry. If you want to learn a bit more about Penfolds, remember to read the book The Rewards of Patience, which has been expertly translated into Chinese by our company.
  2. Coming in at second place is Wolf Blass.
  3. Third place is Lindemans.
  4. Ranked number four – Rosemount.

Something they all have in common is good engagement, Chinese content and good brands in Chinese.

Contact us at CHIN Communications for help navigating the Chinese language and cultural landscape and avoid any embarrassing or costly gaffes.


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