Is Your Brand Ready for China? – Part 2

December 13, 2021
December 13, 2021 Admin

This is Part 2 of the “Is Your Brand Ready for China” blog post series. If you missed out on our first blog, read it here.

Despite the pandemic, business in the China market continues to grow strongly. No wonder it’s every brand owner’s dream to enter and sell its products and services in China. Many foreign brands entering the China market, think that they have some advantage over local brands, because Chinese consumers want to buy foreign brands. This is certainly no longer the case.

Many brands who have been in China pre-covid times were forced very quickly to find a new rhythm. Even without the covid situation, China is a very complex and diverse market. It has 23 provinces, 4 major cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen), 15 new first tier cites, 56 ethnic groups and seven major dialects.

Brands serious about China, can’t do this alone. Building a brand in China and increasing brand equity and loyalty needs time, investment and most importantly patience. Hiring a creative branding agency to manage your brand locally, might seem like a significant cost in the beginning, however by picking the right team, you’ll benefit in the long run.

Here are two key questions to ask creative agencies in China before hiring them:

  1. Which global brands have you worked with in China, in the last twelve months?
  2. What is your experience working with cross-cultural teams?

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Question 1: Which global brands have you worked with in China, in the last twelve months?

Creating a strong brand is only the beginning. Just because your brand is growing from strength to strength in your home country, doesn’t necessarily mean it will do well in China.

Brands who wish to grow and be successful in China, need to think about their brand identity and messaging from the perspective of the local audience. As a brand grows globally, they face complexities due to differences in cultural nuances. This means brand owners need to have access to local market and consumer research and insights to know how to tailor brand messages and campaigns. Having knowledge such as what consumers like, what they don’t, how they use technology, how and where they purchase products and services similar to yours will enable you to better market your brand to a local audience.

As Siu Tang, our founder and Executive Creative Director puts it, “In the past 18 months, China has been focusing more on National Wave (国潮), and local brands have an advantage when it comes to adapting their marketing campaigns to local consumers. Global brands who have been simply dropping their creative branding and marketing strategies into China without any localization efforts will have challenges in winning local fans.”

Before hiring a creative branding agency in China, ask the below three questions:

  1. Which global brands have you worked with in the past 12 months?

  2. Can you please walk me through some of the work you did for these brands and describe a few key achievements?

  3. What process do you use, when it comes to localizing a global brand’s DNA for the China market?

At The Orangeblowfish, we work with some of the coolest global brands and have delivered local award-winning campaigns that pack a punch. Check out some of our recent work here.


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Question 2: What is your experience working with cross-cultural teams?

As brands grow, cross-cultural team collaboration will be increasingly important for a brand’s international success. As we all know, cross-culture teams can bring unexpected complexities which might not be prominent when working with a single-culture team. For any multi-cultural team to succeed, there are three important success factors to keep in mind:

  • Maintain transparent, open, and timely communication;
  • Have a great connection; and
  • Encourage all team members to appreciate and respect each other’s diverse culture and upbringing.

At The Orangeblowfish, we’ve been established in Shanghai, China since 2012, and work with Fortune 500 companies and local startups. Our talented team of international and local brand strategists and creatives based around the world, have a wealth of experience managing brand stakeholders based outside of China.

As Siu Tang, our founder and Executive Creative Director says, “Creative teams with diverse cultural backgrounds bring unique and different perspectives, which in turn, strengthens any team’s creative potential.”

When interviewing local creative brand agencies, ask them questions like:

  1. What can we expect when working with you and/or team whose culture might be different from me, and my team?

  2. Please share some examples of where you’ve worked with a cross cultural team and describe the overall experience.

  3. Were there any cultural nuances or miscommunication that might have caused some challenges in the project? If yes, how did you and the team overcome these challenges, and what was the outcome?

China poses so many opportunities for global brands, but this is not without challenges.

Hiring the right creative branding agency is just one part of the process. Need some help with kick-starting your China brand journey? Book a consultation with our team today!

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