McDonald's China changed its registered brand name from a Chinese translation of "McDonald's" into one of "Golden Arches" on October 12. The news immediately triggered debate because the new name was ridiculed for its pronunciation in Chinese.
McDonald's, once seen as a symbol of a Western lifestyle, has achieved rapid growth in China since it entered the market. When the first McDonald's restaurant on the Chinese mainland opened in Shenzhen in 1990, it set new customer and revenue records within the global franchise chain on its first day of operation.
Decades later, some foreign fast food brands have developed their own Chinese-style menus, and the once "noble" foreign brands are even sometimes criticized as unhealthy. As for McDonald's, it has sold the bulk of its Chinese mainland and Hong Kong businesses to financial conglomerate CITIC Group. The new name "Golden Arches" implies to some extent that McDonald's is increasingly integrating itself with Chinese culture.
This change, in the final analysis, is due to China's reform and opening-up endeavor. The influx of foreign brands into China has greatly broadened Chinese people's minds and inspired Chinese businesses in terms of management styles and corporate cultures, etc. Meanwhile, the rise of Chinese brands that are more closely culturally linked is driving foreign brands to localize themselves more to cater to Chinese consumers, and their transformations reveal cultural interaction between Chinese and foreign brands, which is benefiting both sides.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Guangming Daily on October 30)