What we learned at the very first Exposition on China Indigenous Brands during China Brand Day.
May 10th , 2017 was the first “China Brand Day.” Officially established by the State Council to provide non-profit promotion for Chinese self-owned brands during prime time. Exactly one year later, the Exposition on China Indigenous Brands was hosted in Shanghai, putting over 600 domestic brands, both old and new, on display. Over 100 innovative small and medium enterprises were showcased during the three day event, as well as large, well known brands that have already gone international.
Obviously, Brandigo had to get in on the action, as we have been providing branding and marketing solutions for the China market since 2004.
After talking with several joint ventures, listed companies and private companies, we came away with two major observations;
1. Domestic companies need to realize the importance of a brand strategy
As the Government, through their “made in China” initiative puts more pressure on domestic brands to elevate their reputation by producing high quality, safe and innovative products, the term “brand” is beginning to hold more weight for many Chinese companies.
However, when we asked several company representatives about their brand strategy, few were able to provide a clear answer. The responses were more or less “We plan to have more market share for specific products in XX regions”.
After several rounds, I realized that these representatives might not be from the marketing team, but sales.
So why is the sales department not clear about the branding plan?
Shouldn't a solid brand strategy be used as a weapon for sales?
It would appear that the brand is not always well communicated across departments, or at the very least between the marketing and sales teams.
The truth is, brand strategy is not only marketing’s responsibility. Each individual in the organization represents the brand, and should be responsible for communicating the brand message. A strong brand has the power to increase the value of a company, and should be treated as something that effects the budget.
At the core of brand strategy is how the brand is differentiated. Your brand strategy answers the question, “why should anyone choose us over a competitive offering?” This answer is crititcal for the whole organization to understand, particularly sales. Figure out why your brand is truly different and be consistent in the messaging. Doing this one thing in China will make their brand stand out.
—Matt Bowen, President Brandigo/US
2. Brand story is more than your company’s introduction
During the exhibition each brand was only allowed about 2 square meters of wall space to show their story. Most companies presented their story in a nearly identical fashion, starting from founding year, founder, amount of capital, number of production lines, products, services, etc.
So what’s the problem with this?
A “me-too” brand story does not help to set your brand apart, and neither does it convince your target audience to consider it.
Before drafting a brand story, ask yourself some questions;
- Are there any distinct growing pains or challenges that your brand had to overcome, and how?
- Has your brand produced any innovative products or solutions that have contributed to a larger legacy?
- What words would you people to use to describe your brand, and how can you draw associations between your brand and these words.
These will help you to uncover something unique about your brand, and make it easier for your audience to relate to your story.
When it comes down to similar products, price and services a strong brand can be the deciding factor in a purchase decision.
There’s a strong economic value to having a differentiated brand strategy. By only focusing on your range of offerings and price, you are putting yourself in a place where price is the only thing that matters and the potential buyer will go straight to negotiating. Your brand story will help your buyers see value in your differentiation and help you command a higher price. In turn, a differentiated brand will lead to higher revenue margins.
—Matt Bowen, President Brandigo/US