I have heard it said that a business needs to say exactly what it offers within its name, unless it is already a well-known brand or has a budget to do extensive advertising. Such basic principles of advertising, branding, and marketing are easily seen in the sign-age of Korean companies. Korean signs generally break down information into the most basic elements. Imagine walking through an American street, and looking at the signboards and reading nothing more than, “Clothing,” “Restaurant,” “Bookstore,” and “Internet Cafe.” Businesses are very clear about what they are selling. In a few extreme cases, some stores seem to even lack any name at all. Any company of small size uses the Korean alphabet in its sign. It creates an interesting comparison to the big brands in Korea, which almost always use the Roman alphabet in large letters on their sign, and do not make it clear by the sign what the store is selling. View some examples below:
1. “KyoChon” is one of the biggest brands of fried chicken in Korea. On the sign, its name and the word “chicken” is written in Korean in small letters.
2. KTF, SK, and LG Telecom are Korea’s three biggest cellular providers. Acronyms based on English words are very common amongst Korean brand names. Notice KTF’s slogan, “Have a good time!” It is a simple English expression that even some Korean seniors might understand.
3. In contrast to the well-known Korean brands which use English exclusively, the Korean corner store to the left seems to have no name at all.
4. This bookstore is literally called “Bookstore.”
5. The store’s sign says “Brand Name Clothing Repairs.” The store itself seems to lack a brand name. This photograph was taken in a side street of Apgujeong, one of Seoul’s most affluent neighborhoods.