China is one country where traditionally branding has been very local and traditional. Although with the boom of the Chinese economy and the wealth of some of its citizens, luxury brands have been having a great run, local startups almost always had branding that was very much local.
But things are starting to change. More and more Chinese startups are looking to the West for inspiration and are embracing and investing in Branding. They are starting to understand the importance of having brand identities that have a global appeal.
This week the Chinese President Xi Jinping is in the UK for a state visit, the first from China in a decade. This visit signals the bold move by China in heralding a new age of Chinese investments on a global scale. China made a lot of money by being the factory of the world and now it is investing back that money back into the world to own a piece of it. Actually potentially a huge piece of it.
Welcome to the dawn of Chinese dominance.
Chinese companies and startups have been very busy making money and enjoying the success so far. However with the relative slowing down of the Chinese economy, businesses are taking a step back and realizing that their unquestioned success may soon be coming to a stage where they will start to be challenged and hence feel the need to create an emotional connection with their audience.
It is not enough simply to have traditional messaging strategies. Chinese startups now have to look at bringing their brands to the forefront. This means they need to start focusing on how branding works on creating an emotional connection and how most of the Western super brands have capitalized on this premise. And they are starting to do that.
Chinese super-brands such as Alibaba, Baidu, Weibo and RenRen are starting the trend of rebranding in a western way. Alibaba recently started revamping it’s website and it’s core messaging in an effort to make sure people in the west understand what their brand is all about. Baidu also hired a branding agency to help define it’s brand vision and master it’s differentiation.
How can Chinese Startups refresh their branding?
Chinese startups interested in doing business with the west have to start communicating more clearly what their brands represent and they should align with the brand expectations of the west. This can be done by expanding their core values and vision to include the world view of the western audience. This clarity can then be translated into all the brand touch points including the logo design, color palette, font choice, messaging visuals, choice of photos, layout and more.
Because of the ideographic nature of each character in Mandarin, there is so much that can done to create stunning visual identities that bridge the gap between traditional Chinese design principles and the modern branding trends of the west.
Graphic designers and brand identity designers in China have yet to catch up with the rest of the world. Due to the heavily traditional nature of the society and due to lack of design support from the government, Chinese logo designers find themselves in a rut. Of course there are some designers who are taking ideation to the next level, though.
Here are some examples of logos that we are SpellBrand have created for Chinese Startups.