A name can make or break a brand. Think about Penfolds, the popular Australian wine brand, partly owns its success in China to its auspicious sounding Chinese name 奔富 (Ben Fu), which means ‘Chasing prosperity’ in English.
The wine went on to become arguably the most known imported wine brand in the country. What comes together with the brand’s success and millions of wine sales was legal battles over its Chinese name’s trademarks with brand squatters. After 10 years of lengthy and costly court battle, Chinese court finally handed Penfolds’ parent company Treasury Wine Estates a final win in 2020.
Franciacorta, the Italian sparkling wine region in northern Lombardy, certainly took note. The Consorzio has trademarked the Chinese name for the premier Italian sparkling wine region in Chinese – 馥奇达 , as its first action in the marketing strategy for the Chinese market.
The name has been officially registered with the trademark office in China as well as with the China Customs office and in Brussels to ensure that it is included in the landmark Geographic Indication agreement between China and the European Union in both markets.
In order to understand the importance of selecting a Chinese name, and the 11-month long selection process, we talked to President of the Franciacorta Consorzio, Silvano Brescianini. He details how 馥奇达 was chosen out of 22 contenders and decodes the name, character by character, which coincidentally also included lucky number 6 and 8 in Chinese culture.
Vino Joy News (VJN): How important it is to have a Chinese name for Franciacorta in China?
Silvano: The Consorzio of Franciacorta decided to take a long term view in China. For this reason and to show commitment to this respected market, so we decided to invest the necessary efforts in the development of a Chinese name as the first action in the marketing strategy to China.
VJN: What are the criteria in finding the right Chinese name?
Silvano: The most important objective in finding the right name was to find a word that in itself was generic and not evocative of a particular word or sentence. In doing so, the Consorzio hoped for its name to be timeless in terms of decades, firstly, and secondly, not to influence the future marketing strategy of its members.
VJN: What process did you go through to search for the right name?
Silvano: The process lasted a total of 11 months. It started with a thorough research of the various ways the word Franciacorta was translated in China in various documents (books, brochures, marketing materials) as well as how the trade was translating the word in their day-to-day use of the word.
Then, two consultants were asked to present the proposal for a name. One of the consultant was an expert in sales in the world of wine in China and the other an expert of Chinese trademarks for European luxury brands. A contest was launched by Maurizio Zanella, Franciacorta winemaker and member of the Consorzio’s board. He invited several wine lovers and members of the trade in China to send to him proposals of a potential name and the winner would be invited to visit Franciacorta at a later date.
In total, 22 names were selected for further discussion internally and with experts. But, most importantly, these 22 names were presented to a group of top Chinese Sommeliers and Wine media at a meeting in Hong Kong. A total of 8 participants were flown in from Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. The process of discussion of these top sommeliers was then divided in 4 parts: 1) each participants was invited separately in a room to select their favourite 3 names out of the 22. 2) then, a short list of 4 names was identified from the favourite names of the top sommeliers. 3) An open group discussion followed to get the reaction of the short-list among the participants. 4) After a deep discussion, the participants were invited to vote on a secret ballot of their final favourite name. The winner was 馥奇达 Fù Qí Dá.
VJN: Compared with other Chinese alternatives, what makes this one stand out?
Silvano: This name was selected because it has 3 characters, it is generic (the Fù 馥 is not a common character in Chinese, however it shows an in-depth understanding of the Chinese language), and even if the name is not a word or a sentence with a meaning in itself, each character on its own as a meaningful thought.
VJN: Can you break down the meaning of each character?
Silvano: 馥奇达 Fù Qí Dá – shortened pronunciation of Franciacorta (frantʃaˈkorta) – pronunciation breakdown as:
Fran- Fù 馥, meaning: ‘The smell of the fragrant and send forth of the aroma is very beautifully strong. Sometimes, it is used as a female name because of the beautiful meaning. This Character has 18 strokes to spell, and number 18 is a very lucky number meaning the upcoming fortune about to arrive.
tʃaˈ- Qí 奇, meaning Peculiar, rare, extended to special, incredible, magical. This meaningful character would enhance the wine from this particular region and shows it is exquisite. This Character has 8 strokes to spell, number 8 is the luckiest number in Chinese culture, meaning fortune and wealth. – Symbolic of vision.
Kor (light pitch shortened out) ta – Dá 达. The original intention is to walk on the road, and there is a sense of accessibility and smoothness. This Character has 6 strokes to spell, number 6 is generally considered to be lucky in China because 六 sounds like 流 (liú), which means “flow”. Many display the number 6 to bring good fortune.
VJN: How do you plan to raise visibility of Franciacorta in China?
Silvano: The Consorzio of Franciacorta is excited with this important first step into the China and has a long-term view to the market. Recently, the Consorzio has published a series of Chinese pages on its website for trade members and wine lovers to learn about the region and its wines. A series of masterclasses hosted by Julien Boulard Master of Wine will be held in various cities of China this year.
About Franciacorta: The Franciacorta Consortium was formed on 5 March 1990 in Corte Franca and it now comprises about 210 members, including vineyards, wineries and bottlers involved in the production chain of the designations Franciacorta DOCG, Curtefranca DOC and Sebino IGT.