If you are looking to expand your business into China, then it is important to focus on creating a consistent brand image throughout the country. By establishing a strong brand presence, you can increase revenue and create long-lasting customer loyalty. In this article, we will explore some of the key ways to maintain brand consistency in China and how it can benefit your business.
Branding is the key to success in China
In China, a strong Brand will always win against an unknown brand. Chinese consumers tend not to trust brands they don’t know and therefore not to buy their products. In addition, without a strong brand, you can’t expect to find resellers, distributors, to land a spot on Tmall or JD, or people to buy your products/ services.
A well-known brand is a synonym for safe to buy in China. It means the brand is reliable and credible therefore consumers are not scared to pay for it. Therefore, brands should put their efforts into building a strong brand value and image while also maintaining brand consistency.
The importance of brand consistency in China: a Coca-Cola case study
Coca-Cola’s Content and Creative Excellence Director in China, Richard Cotton, revealed that consistency is key to success for the Coca-cola company in China, where a complicated retail landscape and a highly competitive category offer challenges to brands.
He explained that building brand awareness starts with getting the basics right, including price, distribution, and brand message. For example, Coca-Cola clearly shows its consistency of being a drink that makes you happy and is shared with others, while at the same time adapting to the tastes of the Chinese market:
- the Chinese name of Coca-Cola可口可乐 “kekoukele” which means “tasty fun”,
- Coca-cola marketing campaigns in China on Wechat, show groups of friends and family having fun together.
Brand consistency is the key to earning customer trust and elevating your ROI. Branding is the key to every sector, but it is much more than colors, nice fonts, and a fancy logo localized to the Chinese market and culture.
Brand consistency is the trick for your public image, and for your reputation. An identity with which people can relate, share ideas, and find solutions to their problems.
Managed well, branding can meet:
- customers’ expectations
- new customers
Did you know that the average revenue increase attributed to always presenting the brand consistently is 33%?
Brands should put efforts into maintaining brand consistency, why?
A big reason for maintaining brand consistency is that it can help to prevent consumer confusion. When a brand changes its look or feel too dramatically, it can be hard for consumers to keep track of what the brand represents, and this can lead to them being less likely to trust or buy from the brand in the future.
Another reason for keeping branding consistent is that it can help to create a sense of stability and reliability for customers. If they know that a certain brand always looks and feels the same, they’ll be more likely to turn to that brand when they need something, because they’ll know that it will consistently meet their expectations.
Customers are very demanding when it comes to buying beauty products. They are very cautious in their choice and spend a lot of time online looking for information on companies and their products.
Brand consistency ensures visibility and recognition within target groups, so you can stay on top of the choice when they need your product. An example is Starbucks when someone needs coffee in China.
A brand is what people will remember most about your company, so if you want to make an impression among Chinese consumers, it should be:
If you want to be their go-to company, Chinese customers should feel as though they could recommend you to friends and family. If you achieve this, your success in the Chinese market is almost certain. Why? Because the Chinese, in their pre-purchase phase, rely on relatives and friends for the choice of brands and products to use.
A good e-reputation is crucial success with E-commerce in China
In China more than everywhere else the reputation of a brand is what will make the difference. Chinese consumers do trust new brands and are not risk-takers, resulting in a very low conversion rate.
For an unknown brand with no E-reputation, the cost of getting visitors will be the same as for a famous brand, the difference is that they will get 100 sales for 1000 visits while the unknown one will get 1.
E-reputation should be the base of your marketing strategy when doing e-commerce in China, whatever platform you choose.
Brands should find a balance between brand localization and consistency
Localization is essential to entering the Chinese market because, in China, you cannot simply translate your message and expect the same level of interest from an audience with a different background.
However, it can create issues in brand consistency which is also important to be successful in this market.
- Localize too much, and you may lose your brand’s authenticity
- Fail to localize enough, and the product may not be to Chinese tastes.
Therefore, how do find the right way to localize and maintain brand consistency?
No matter the aspect (taste adaptation, product adaptation, or product promotion ideas) having a dedicated development process for products intended for the Chinese market is a key aspect to successfully entering the Chinese market. The idea is not to turn your back on your brand identity or culture, but rather to leverage the elements that make your product popular in the Chinese market and study what to leave intact and what to adapt to Chinese culture.
For example, Coca-cola managed to find this balance, adapting its advertising campaigns to the Chinese market (this is the marketing campaign for the Chinese Valentine’s Day 520), but maintaining its consistent and recognizable brand.
How to maintain brand consistency in China?
Companies should consistently apply branding guidelines
Every business should set and consistently apply branding guidelines which include details about:
- Brand’s tone of voice,
- preferred professional terms,
- general code of conduct.
Not applying them is a waste of time and above all your staff and customers might not understand your brand’s value and image. The creation of marketing materials and the representation of your company would suffer from it.
Educate all staff members about the brand’s value and image
As soon as you have created the branding guidelines, you will need all staff members to be aware of them. You can do this by having a meeting with them about the brand, describing in detail everything they need to know about the company’s history, fundamental values , and tone of voice.
In addition, you should keep the brand guidelines to allow staff to review this document if they are unsure of how to represent their brand.
Thanks to this you will no longer have online and offline marketing messages that confuse potential customers and you will be able to maintain the consistency of your brand.
Companies should provide staff with branding resources
How can staff maintain consistency if they need to create things for external use?
A company should provide them with branding resources like:
- Logo variations
- Color palettes
Whether it’s social media graphics or white papers, branding resources can maintain consistency and avoid confusing potential customers.
Brand consistency: From your website to social media and e-commerce platforms
Many companies believe that a logo and a website are sufficient to express the value and image of the brand and to offer an excellent customer experience. But this is absolutely wrong because every phase of the customer experience must be marked to maintain consistency. Therefore, from your website to social media and to the e-commerce platform it should be branded.
If your brand is inconsistent, a purchase is unlikely to occur as Chinese customers buy from brands they can trust, leading to questions asked and money spent elsewhere.
How to work on branding and e-reputation in China?
China has a history of scandals and a culture of scams. Everyone has been scammed once in their life or has been taught since childhood to be aware of scams. Therefore, any Chinese consumers or businessmen will do research before converting with you.
If they can’t find anything online about you, you’ll probably be considered spam. Letting them find you when typing related keywords on Baidu and then doing some research about your company will help the conversion process.
The other important point is that mailing does not work in China. Peoples use Wechat to communicate. Chinese businessmen expect you to be on Wechat and to have an e-brochure to share with them.
Building your online image
The construction of your image passes first of all by creating a loyal community of followers. This can be done through WeChat as well as on other Chinese social media such as Weibo, Douyin but also blogs, and forums in your sector.
Social media in China are the best place to work on Branding
Social media in China are the best place to work on your branding and storytelling. Choosing the right social media to reach your goal is the most important step of your journey, however, there are so many, therefore it can be tricky.
GMA help you with that and run campaigns according to your need:
PR is a good way to build your e-reputation
It is one of the most cost-effective solutions there is out there. It is a basic of marketing where the right people talk about you. Our job? connect you to the right people and use their credibility to help you grow in China.
In China, E-reputation is key to success and PR is a good way to build credibility. Not only you are getting experts talking about you, but it also means backlinks from authority websites which means: Visibility.
Having contact with the specialized press is essential for an effective branding campaign. Our PR campaigns with the press are organized around several elements:
- An extensive network of contacts (We are connected with over 2000 journalists)
- A regular relationship (We will provide you with a detailed report on our PR campaigns every month)
- High-quality content (We don’t just simply create content for you, we create the right content for your target type)
- A team of experts (Our communication with online customers is very effective because we employ a team of native speakers).
Forums and KOLs to strengthen your credibility
Complete your PR efforts and strengthen your credibility with UGC using forums and KOLs to talk about you. KOLs and communities are powerful and widely listen to on the Chinese internet. Their opinion matters the most. Let us create a community around your brand and connect you to the right KOLs.
To sum up the Importance of Being Consistent With the Brand in China
After implementing these steps in your branding efforts, you will soon see a wave of results. Stop changing your message repeatedly and lose the interest of your customers. Do you want or don’t want others to remember your brand?
Do you want to know more about the power of brand consistency and the impact it has on your brand reputation in China and more?
Contact GMA, a digital marketing agency, that specializes in the Chinese digital market.
We offer branding and communication services like:
- Choice of channels (Branding in China passes through several channels, and these are usually fewer than those used in the West)
- Our Savoir-Faire (We have experience in many sectors, whatever the market in which you operate, we are able to help you).
- A complete strategy (For rapid and effective development social networks are not enough, but we have the right advice to help you)
- Analysis of results (Every month we will provide you with an analysis of the results of your campaigns and discuss them together to develop an even more effective strategy).