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How to build a brand successfully in the export markets?

Build an export brand is very import for an export business. It is not easy to build your brand in your own country not to mention to build an export brand in a foreign country.

Export is no more sending your goods to overseas, it is about how to export your brand or build your brand in a foreign country. The millennial consumers buy “Brand” not “Goods”.

There are different ways to build an export brand successfully because the inter-culture different.

However, there is something in common and here are five generic suggestions to create an export brand successfully:

1. Leverage your brand power earned in your home country

If your brand is famous already in your home country, either as a big national brand or an esteemed bakery in local town, use them. Before spending big advertisement in overseas, ensure your brand are well exposed on local social media. The millennial consumers will search your brand first before they buy. Though Facebook, Tweeter, Youtube and Google (and some others) are all banned in China, Chinese consumers still use VPN or other means to find out if the foreign brand is fake or not. They trust Western social media more than the local Chinese one. For people who cannot read English, they will ask their friends to help. This is one reason “Daigou” (buying overseas goods for their Chinese friends) is so popular in China.

2. Create a story for your export brand

If your brand is new, do not worry and create your own story. People like stories, especially story about new things. Normal salesperson sell goods, the masters sell the story. With the advance of digital technology telling story has become much easier and more effective. You do not need spend big money on T.V advertisement, you can just write a blog, upload a video to get involved with your consumers. Be personal and honest are the keys of a successful story.

3. Speak in their language

Start with English advertisement is not bad in Asian markets where consumers still believe “English” means higher quality imported goods. However, you do need to create your brand in local language in a later stage to get it spread further and become more powerful. Coca-cola has a very widely known Chinese name “可口可乐” (ke-kou-ke-le) which means” tasting & happy”. Toyota cleverly used Chinese proverb “There must be a way when you drive to a mountain” and added “There must be a Toyota car when there is a way” (车到山前必有路,有路必有丰田车). This catchphrase became so famous in China and plant Toyota brand deeply in the mind of Chinese consumer. In Japan, most of the Western brands use “Gairaigo” (borrow the pronunciation from European languages) other than Japanese Kanji. For example, coca-cola translated to “コカ・コーラ”, no meaning, just the same or similar pronunciation (Ko ka Ko Ra).

4. Love and Trust

If your product or service is the skin then the you brand is the fur. As in Chinese proverb “Without the skin, there is no place for fur” (皮之不存毛将焉附). It is your love and trust of your products or service that will make your brand superb. All the new digital marketing technologies are helpful for creating an export brand, it is no need to worry about too much about the technologies. As Scott Bedbury pointed out in his book “A New Brand World”, the “Relevance, simplicity and humanity – not technology – will distinguish brands in the future”. The languages are different, but love and trust are the common languages anywhere in the world.

5. Localisation with your identity

Localisation is very important to create a successful export brand, but you should not give up your identity.

A great successful example is KFC China. If you visit a KFC shop in China in the morning, you will find so many typical Chinese breakfast on the menu. No Chinese consumers eat fried chicken for breakfast. After 11am, the menu changed to lunch menu and all you can see are typical KFC fried chicken. This is why KFC is still the most popular QSRs in China – they have the best fried chicken! On the other hands, some brands tried adding more Chinese culture but failed. Nike just did it in 2016 with their Chinese New Year shoes having Chinese character “發”(getting rich) on one shoe and “福”(happiness) on another shoe. They may not know if you put these two words together it means “getting fat”, but every Chinese knows and do not want to wear a pair of shoes to “get fat”. It became a joke, a good example of inter-cultural gaffe.

If you want to create a successful brand in China and Japan, please contact us.


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