From China to the World: China’s Global Brand Journey Has Just Begun

This sponsored post is produced in association with Lionbridge.

“Are you OK?” That’s the question Lei Jun, CEO of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi asked his audience in his heavily accented English during the launch of its flagship Mi 4i in New Delhi in April 2015. The Xiaomi “fans” loved it. The ensuing debate about the quality of Lei’s English completely missed the point.

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Ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable for the CEO of a large Mainland Chinese company to put on a show on a stage abroad and address his audience in English. Even today, the stereotypical Chinese CEO is much more the command and control type, rarely interacting with customers directly. Lei Jun’s Xiaomi is blazing the marketing trail for a new generation of Chinese companies going global.

To be sure, the road is still long. In global brand consultancy Interbrand’s Best Global Brands list, only smartphone and telecom equipment and smartphone maker Huawei made the cut, landing the 94th spot. Then again, most Japanese brands were considered low quality in Europe well into the 1970s and Korean brands like Samsung, LG, and many others have come a very long way in the last 20 years. China, which has leapfrogged the rest of the world in all things mobile in the last five years, will no doubt follow in their footsteps. The Middle Kingdom’s global brand journey has just begun.

On November 3, 2015, Slator held an executive roundtable sponsored by Lionbridge on global marketing for Chinese companies. Guest speaker Kevin Gentle, Digital Strategy Director of China-originated brand consultancy Labbrand, presented a global marketing roadmap to the roundtable participants, which included senior representatives of Chinese powerhouses Lenovo, Alibaba, and Huawei.

Kevin Gentle, Digital Strategy Director for Labbrand, presents during Slator's executive roundtable on Global Marketing in Beijing.

Kevin Gentle, Digital Strategy Director for Labbrand, presents during Slator’s executive roundtable on Global Marketing in Beijing.

“It was a great pleasure for me to be able to participate in this event and interact with the audience on such an important topic,” Gentle said, “The roundtable was a great chance to exchange views and get a wide range of perspectives from different brands on the issue of international expansion for Chinese companies. All in all a great learning and exchange opportunity.”

Allison McDougall, Lionbridge Vice President, North America & Asia Emerging Business, declared the roundtable a success. “The feedback [on the event] has been so positive,” she said, remarking that the event conception, execution, and quality of attendees were “impressive.”

Alibaba representative commenting on e-commerce giant's global branding strategy.

Alibaba representative commenting on e-commerce giant’s global branding strategy.

In his presentation during the roundtable, Gentle addressed how Chinese companies should approach international branding: “a roadmap in five Chengyu’s 成语.”

Topics covered in the presentation include:

  • Dealing with 0 growth
  • Comparing growth, demand, and consumer spending between Chinese and Western markets
  • Comparing traditional to current models of the brand idea as it relates to business strategy and execution
  • Key trends in internationalization strategies
  • Brand equity and metrics
  • Consumer pull versus media push
  • “Made in China” competitive advantages
  • Three dimensions of brand coordination
  • Learn from misguided and smart 老外s
  • Case studies and examples of branding strategies

Download Gentle’s presentation from the roundtable here:

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