Wholly Moly! There are lessons in this domain name.

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A Chinese company brand based on an English phrase.

This Chinese company brand is a play on an English phrase.

I was reading Chinese venture capital news recently when a company caught my attention. I was attracted to the name because it is written in English and, more importantly, the name is unusual.

Wholly Moly is the name. Does it sound familiar? Yes, it is a smart play on “Holy Moly,” which is a very old expression meaning exclamation of surprise.

The food startup was founded in 2014 to offer premium quality health foods for the young and affluent Chinese consumers. “Wholly” suggests completely original, raw grains with no artificial additives or synthetic colorings added, thus giving you a very healthy diet. The startup recently raised $10 million Series A funding.

Wholly Moly’s corporate domain is the brand-matching WhollyMoly.com. The domain was registered in 2015, so the company likely invested a mere $10 to acquire this great digital address on which a global store can be developed. The company also owns WhollyMoly.cn, which displays the same contents.

If you visit the WhollyMoly.com site, you’ll see its English brand prominently displayed, even though I doubt that many Chinese consumers understand the term. Its Chinese brand is Hao Li (好哩=good!) but apparently not emphasized. This shows that English brands are acceptable in China.

Cases like Wholly Moly are common. I frequently come across well-funded startups using English-based brands and therefore, English-based domains. They are not afraid to use English words. Some, like Wholly Moly, even go one step further and play with common terms such as “Holy Moly”.

My own experience echoes such a trend. Last year I sold the domain Tcozy(.)com to a Chinese company in the heating/cooling device business. Tcozy is a play on the term “tea cozy”. So, corporate China is not afraid to use derivatives of English words.

English-based domains work in China, and your domains may already have potential end users in this massive market. To find out, you can try the tips described in the articles How to sell domains to China, Three steps to Chinese end user research, and A quick tip for Chinese end user research.

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