Our visual landscape is littered with corporate logos so seared into our brains that we barely have to glance in their direction for them to register.
Istanbul-based designer Mehmet Gözetlik decided to imagine how Western brands might adapt their corporate logos for the world’s 1.3 billion Chinese speakers with “Chinatown,” a series of Chinese-style neon signs based on familiar Western logos.
Replacing company names like Lego with the Chinese characters for the word for toy renders the logos legible for Chinese speakers but at times cryptic for those used to seeing them in their original forms. Although many of the brands Gözetlik considers already have a presence—and their own Chinese names—in China, the project is an interesting conceptual exercise that considers the challenges of translating visual corporate identities across cultural and linguistic barriers.
“ ‘Chinatown’ reflects our branded world of the near future,” Gözetlik writes in a project description. “Sooner or later, most major global brands will obviously need to adjust their meaning based on translation to demonstrate alignment with local Chinese culture and tastes. And most certainly they will collapse when the time comes, due to their existing brand structure that is built on western culture and Latin words.”
In the images below, the English translations of the Chinese characters are at the bottom of the frames.