The Chinese Enterprise: Secrets to Building a Global Brand

The Chinese Enterprise: Secrets to Building a Global Brand

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Recently, an increasing number of Chinese companies have gained more mindshare among overseas consumers and performed well in mobile, cross-border e-commerce, fintech, automotive, and other industries. However, challenges in the market often stem from different cultural backgrounds. To address these challenges, many enterprises need to gain a comprehensive understanding of overseas markets, consumers, and trends.

Especially, enterprises in the early stages of globalization are likely to find overseas markets are not familiar with their products. To succeed, localized brands will need to establish their brand in the global marketplace. What can an enterprise do to build a global brand strategy to achieve its strategically global development?

In view of this subject, GLG invited Xu Linfeng, a senior marketing expert in the consumer electronics industry, to share the global brand marketing capabilities that Chinese brands should take when attempting to globalize their business. This article, translated from a Chinese GLG teleconference, has been edited for length and clarity.

Which problems may be faced by Chinese brands when globalizing?

Brands seeking to take their business global need to understand and digest the local culture. Therefore, brand globalization can alternatively be called “cultural globalization.” Currently, global brand mindshare for Chinese products is weak. With that in mind, it’s important to note that domestic supply chain capabilities are strong and product manufacturing costs are currently low, allowing enterprises to sell their products overseas at low prices.

However, with the pressure of cost competition in the domestic supply chain increasing, brands need to understand local needs and cultures if they are to position their brand internationally.

If an enterprise wants to truly adapt to the overseas market, it must solve the following four main problems:

Problem I: How does an enterprise firmly set a strategic goal of brand globalization? The enterprise should use meaningful stories to attract overseas customers, local employees, partners, shareholders, and other audiences. If it can help them perceive the goals and meaning of the brand, it can better establish a relationship. If a local audience recognizes a foreign brand, the enterprise is already halfway to success.

Problem II: How does an enterprise choose an appropriate brand logo? A brand logo says a lot. A good brand logo can quickly establish a brand image with customers. But the meaning of images can differ across the globe. Brands that want to go global need to understand how such things as brand names, trademarks, slogans, and fonts read in different countries, cultures, and religions.

Problem III: How does an enterprise cope with brand globalization? For most Chinese brands, globalization has become the norm. The Chinese marketplace is crowded with competition, so after reaching a saturation point, an enterprise may have more opportunities in overseas markets. This requires that an enterprise’s team has international and global expertise to lay a solid foundation for long-term strategic thinking and tactical action.

Problem IV: How does an enterprise build and manage strong local teams? Building local teams is one of the best ways to adapt to international markets. Enterprises need to cultivate capable brand managers who have a deep understanding of brand values, are familiar with the regulatory and legal risks of entering the global market as well as the local language and culture, and have the capability of building, developing, and managing a diversified team.

What strategy is required for brand globalization?

If we use the mobile phone industry as an example, we can describe “four implementations” that apply to both domestic and overseas markets.

  1. Differentiation: In the mobile phone industry, more than a thousand mobile phone products are launched annually around the world. To leave consumers with strong impressions and stand out from the competitive crowd, an enterprise needs to differentiate its products and services and understand its own product limitations.
  2. Humanization: Just talking about the technology cannot make consumers relate to hard products. Companies that can convey warmth and attitude will connect with people, unlike those that exclusively use cold, technical language.
  3. Special events/cultural integrations: Spread a brand by referencing local celebrations. For example, Thailand and other places have water-sprinkling festivals. Enterprises can conduct promotional activities that tie in to the festivals. Enterprises should make full use of social media to further integrate themselves into local “happenings.”
  4. Assume leadership: Enterprises should build business leadership, become the thought leader of the industry, and establish their own voice.

Another dimension of brand globalization is encapsulated in the following five strategies:

  1. Go to market: Enterprises need to formulate this strategy after determining the products and solutions they intend to provide. This requires them to maintain consistency of information, content, ideas, and tonality delivered to consumers around the world from the conception phase of the product to the end of the entire life cycle.
  2. Product leader: Differentiating your flagship, high-volume, and tactical products from those of your consumers is required. This can become a problem of market resource allocation. Market resources of enterprises must scale to match their operation strategies.
  3. Top partner: Enterprises can choose local influential partners to help them quickly improve their own capabilities and image.
  4. Consumer orientation: Strengthen consumer insights, product concept positioning, and even the basic concept. Creative advertising insight must come from consumers in order to influence them.
  5. Enterprise culture: Enterprises should create a cultural atmosphere and bridge brands with corporate values and concepts.

How to build a strong talent team for enterprise globalization?

In addition to having clear strategies, marketing organizations, and processes, enterprises also need to build a talent team. The talent team is composed of professionals with diversified and elite skills. This team needs two thought processes: left brain and right brain.

Left-brain thinking means rational thinking. Rationally considers the values of investment and output, and it manages customers, brand communication media, and links such as project expense, input and output, and suppliers.

Right-brain thinking means affective thinking. Right-brain thinking members need to know positioning, strategy, creativity, and content clearly, and know which communication channel can effectively deliver content to consumers.

Currently, most enterprises have only right-brain thinking. Left-brain thinking requires strong cooperation and support from departments.


About the Author

Xu Linfeng, a senior marketing expert, is the former Vice President of ZTE and General Manager of Global Channels of ZTE. Prior to this, he worked in the Huawei Consumer BG Business Group. He served as the Director of the Marketing Operations Department, Director of Global Retail GTM, Regional CMO, and Vice President of Retail. During his tenure, he aimed to build Huawei’s high-end brand image.


This business strategy article is adapted from the webcast “From Challenger to Leader, 4 Core Competencies That Chinese Brands Need in International Expansion in the Post-Covid Era.” If you would like access to this webcast or would like to speak with Xu Linfeng or any of our more than 900,000 industry experts, contact us.

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