‘Made in China’ – How to Build a Better International Brand
3 suggestions for Chinese companies branding themselves in the U.S.
Nearly every company around the world wants their brand to be a household name. They want consumers to use their brand name as a verb – “Google it,” “Skype your friends,” etc. However, getting these types of results takes time – and effective brand management.
It should come as no surprise that American consumers tend to be a bit weary when buying products coming from China. Since the 1980’s, China’s decision to use the Wenzhou Model has allowed the majority of the Western world to enjoy the incredibly competitive price tags that these products boast. However, a decade-long trend of low-quality goods from China has cast a dark shadow filled with negative stereotypes upon nearly every Chinese company trying to brand themselves in the U.S.
It is, however, possible for Chinese firms to overcome this negative bias, as successful companies like Haier have done, through effective and timely communication techniques. Journalists, bloggers, and consumers alike seem to appreciate content that uses familiar language, is relatable to their field, and is released on a consistent, schedule-oriented basis. Used correctly, effective communication can help any company establish a positive reputation among media outlets and consumers.
Here are some solutions for Chinese companies that want to surpass this negative stereotype and create a well-respected brand name in the eyes of American consumers:
- Don’t Use Machine Translation: Use a well-qualified human translator for all press releases, advertisements, and emails involving English-speaking customers. This is one of the best ways to shed some of the negative bias associated with Chinese products. Most American consumers will notice any small mistakes in their mother tongue, and will immediately begin to make negative generalizations.
- Utilize Blogs: Before you begin running an advertisement, release a product, or even issue a press release to major media outlets, take a “test run” in one of the hundreds of blogs available in every sector of every industry. These bloggers generally have great expertise in their field. Any ideas or plans will receive immediate feedback from the blogger and the fans. This is an incredible tool that is very often neglected.
- Be Consistent: Chinese companies should not overlook the importance of consistency in their brand’s identity. Rather than focusing on “fitting in,” choose an identity that is appealing to American consumers and stick with it. Choosing a new logo, slogan, company value, celebrity associated with the brand, or advertising style means starting from ground zero. More often than not, this rebranding hurts a company’s reputation. Another common mistake is overextending the range of products your company has to offer. The last thing you want is to have your customers wondering what sector of what industry you’re in now.Consistency with the media is also an extremely important factor for Chinese companies branding themselves in the U.S. Before and after any influential event, plan a media release on both your website and an online media traffic source, such as PR Newswire. These media releases should be released on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Moreover, diversifying the types of content in your releases can help keep journalists, bloggers, and other forms of media distributors interested in running your story. Like I said before, read any feedback from the publishers or the fans, and build upon your successes.
These are just a few effective communication techniques that have helped countless companies establish a mutually beneficial relationship with consumers and media outlets alike. I urge you to consider these suggestions in not just your next press release, but rather all of your future contact with both Western media and consumers.