Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Yellow Roadway Corp., the American trucking and logistics company, is going to change its name (subscription required) to YRC Worldwide “to avoid negative connotations” as it begins a major expansion into China. I must admit I was confused for a moment–until I realized that they were talking about the un-p.c. use of the word “yellow” as a derogatory term for Asians. So basically what the company is doing is giving up on years of history, and a well-developed brand, in hopes of not offending the Chinese market. I’m no China scholar, so I don’t know whether the purportedly offensive term even translates into an equally offensive term in Chinese. I certainly think most people, even at home, think of a primary color when they think of yellow. But I do wonder whether the decision will harm the company’s identity here at home, where the company does most of its business.
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