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How to brand in China: Delivering your brand message effectively

News .2019-11-13

Hello fellows. Nice meeting you again! In the previous chapter, I talked about the importance of brand message, and how you could do to make sure your brand’s DNA speaks to your desired perception and is ‘messaged’ with clarity which helps your customers understand what ONE word your brand ‘owns’ in the market. 

And today, I would like to continue my brand topic aiming at solving your next problem: how to get your prepared brand message delivered effectively.

Go wild with marketing mix!

Every marketer knows that the marketing mix refers to the set of actions, or tactics, that a company uses to promote its brand or product in the market. The 4Ps make up a typical marketing mix - Price, Product, Promotion and Place. However, nowadays, the marketing mix increasingly includes several other Ps like Packaging, Positioning, People and even Politics as vital mix elements. 

But how does the Ps work when delivering brand message? Simply speaking, the precondition of brand marketing is based on the marketing mix, such as quality products, unique packaging, creative promotion, satisfied service process, or even eye-able people or place at purchasing. All the above elements own opportunities to deliver our brand message to our potential or existing markets.

Take Cline Cellars, a Sonoma Valley winery, for example. This winery had been using tear-off pads on store shelves to promote its products and build repeat business, offering recipes that were developed to pair perfectly with its wines. On-shelf tear-off pads provided limited printable area, leaving much of the Cline Cellars brand story untold. In addition, the tear-off pads offered no guarantee that promotional materials would accompany every bottle at the time of purchase. And the brand message could not be delivered for long.

The winery needed to ensure that consumers would receive these key brand messages with each purchase. So they extended text label for sharing the Cline Cellars brand story and recipes right on the side of the bottle.

The new label's generous printable area allows the winery to share its history, farming practices, the story of its vineyards, and a recipe on a perforated label panel. Consumers can open, read and reseal the label, or tear off the recipe. The label also allows for new text in every run, so repeat purchases are rewarded with new information and recipes.

And the result is that this innovative way provided value-added information and the Cline Cellars brand story on every bottle, which delivered its brand message much more effectively and furthermore build a stronger connection with consumers, and encourage repeat purchases.

Turn brand reviews into PR opportunities.

Every functional brand has market review and that is how the market reacts after their examination of your brand. It doesn’t mean that the brand reviews are saying bad things of your company. But you should keep your eyes open to the reviews and be sensitive to the relatively negative messages, and most importantly, turn it into a positive one by some crisis PR techniques.

Take the famous Chinese hotpot brand Haidilao as an example. The company has just opened a new branch in London. The first time of its brand crisis happened in August 2011. A report titled "Undercover Reporter Reveals the Haidilao  Secrets" told the market that Haidilao the popular hotpot brand is not that credible, such as the chop soup contains no bones but is blended with flavors, the mice plays freely in the kitchen, and the dishwasher is dirty and smelly. This article was no doubt a critical strike to a food service brand. And how could Haidilao survive and regain customer trust and loyalty?

On the same day when the report came out, in the afternoon, a letter of apology published on Haidilao's official website and its official Weibo account, responding that the issues in the above report was verified. The company felt terrible sorry and promised that the related issues were under investigating and customer and media who are willing to check the process can contact Haidilao at any time. An hour later, another letter by Haidilao was published on its official website and Weibo account. It brought out the notification of how the issue had been handled, and detailed contact and solution were also published in the letter. From then on, Haidilao published several letters making sure the public know how the issue was going on until it won recognition again from the market.

Although Haidilao encountered a big crisis which could destroy the confidence of its customers, the company showed its excellent brand PR techniques, and regained its brand favorability. Many netizensfelt that Haidilao is quite responsive, and they were willing to visit Haidilao again to witness its "regeneration". We have to say that Haidilao won the counterattack beautifully. Be responsible, be fast, and try to catch the PR opportunity, you could easily deliver your brand message effectively, just like Haidilao.

Chinese do care about good says of your brand!

Although master crisis management could help you in brand management, but trust me, majority of your customers do care more about the good says of your brand. And that is why word-of-mouth (WOM) communication becomes a better tool in delivering brand message.

Word-of-mouth for branding is when a consumer's interest for a company's brand is reflected in their daily dialogues. Essentially, it is free advertising triggered by customer experiences or something that goes beyond what they expected. Word-of-mouth for branding can be encouraged through different publicity activities set up by companies, or by having opportunities to encourage consumer-to-consumer and consumer-to-marketer communications, through buzz, viral, blog, and other types of social media.

For example, posting pictures and thoughts after having a wonderful experience in the restaurant on facebook can increase the popularity of this restaurant. Introducing your favorite movie to your friends is another good form of free advertisement WOM. In hence,  beware of WOM which does not stop at the first interaction. It tends to lead to a cascade of follow-on interactions, and that is why it’s so powerful for branding.

The recent hot Chinese movie The Wandering Earth is a good example here. The movie is the first "made in China" science-fiction movie on the big screen, as the original novel was written by a Chinese author and the director, Guo Fan, is also Chinese. By now the film has broken the box office record of 4 billion, and was the champion of the Chinese New Year holiday season.

Now let us see how The Wandering Earth attracted more audiences by WOM. Firstly, the company invited numerous celebrities, screenwriter, director and Weibo opinion leaders for a large-scale premiere. All these opinion leaders shared their positive views about the film straight after. So the word-of-mouth had created successfully. Secondly, various kinds of viewing groups (for this particular movie of course) were organized to propagate their impression of view among movie fans. And also these groups created constant topics about the movie, which increase the good feelings and attract people.

All these were done before the official release of the movie, and on the big day, there has been massive discussion on the net: over 2 billion readings and 4 million discussions on Weibo. The film is now still showing, and let us wait to see how WOM marketing will work for the film as a final result.  

Market the brand tangibly and accessibly.

Quite a lot of companies are struggling with brand marketing thinking it is too illusory. They can simply write down ten brand messages but couldn’t find the way to let the market know. That’s why I say, market the brand tangibly and accessibly is important.

But how? There are quite a lot of ways, but I would like to focus on one method today, that is service. And your next question will be: service is also intangible, right?

Now I will show you how to change the intangible service into a tangible one. I will be using kitchen cabinets industry examples here.

In China, service has become an important part of each brand, especially for the kitchen cabinets brands, as the product technology content is not that high. The intense market competition had driven higher service quality. That means the brand with the best service wins the top, such as the Haier 361 service system, and the Goldenhome’s “Gold Medal Month”.

By analyzing the top brands success, I have found their way to create a tangible service that our customers can feel, like and evaluate.

First of all, we need to make our service product tangible. That is to create certain so called evidence to show our customers that they are served. Such as VIP cards, vouchers and etc. These products increase our customers’ perceptual skills of service.

And more, the service environment needs to be tangible as well. Service environment which means the exhibition place is where the customers can enjoy the place and atmosphere of the kitchen cabinet brands. Our customers show more confidence on the brand when they come across a functional, elegant, clean, bright and harmonious environment

Last but not least, the service personnel should also be tangible. Here tangible service staff means skillful and well trained people. In order for better brand communication, we have to make sure that our service staffs are equipped with service quality, nice character, and service techniques. 

Okay, here comes the end of today’s topic. Seems I’ve been talking too much and hopefully that I haven’t been too diverging. To conclude, delivering brand message is seemingly simple, as the ways for brand communication is numerous. All roads lead to Rome. The way to deliver and communicate your brand message is at your choice. You can choose the most efficient one or the cost effectively one. But remember, break down your brand marketing mix and try to deliver your message through all these possible elements.

See you next time!

The copyright of this article is belonged to Easywei Marketing & Consulting Co, Ltd.  Easywei is a leading integrated marketing consulting firm in China specialized in fruit business. For more information about Easywei, please look up our website:

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