Today’s business is changing at a rapid pace, making marketing-led strategies obsolete. In a sophisticated economic situation, a long-term brand development strategy that is guided by a sound business model, inspired by inherent beliefs and expressed through a transformative brand experience is necessary. This can be achieved through a Business-for-design & Design-for-business approach.

Consulus partnered with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) (中国国际贸易促进委员会) to give a talk to 15 Singapore-based Chinese businesses from the Chinese Enterprise Association (CEA) at the Gallery Hotel on the 6th of December, 2010. Mr Zhao Huitian, Chief Representative of CCPIT in Singapore, was present to grace the event, and he agreed that the next step forward for Chinese brands is to look into long-term and authentic branding. Mr Zhao encouraged the participants to think about branding for the future.

The power of a transformative brand experience and the importance of a long-term business strategy was emphasised by Lawrence Chong, Director of Strategy Development at Consulus. Without these, a brand would face huge challenges in its growth, especially when placed side by side with global brands that occupy unique positions in the market. A brand needs to find unique icons and symbols that reflect its purpose and what it stands for.

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“A good brand does not need to say very much, just as Apple does not need more than its logo for people to instantly recognise what it stands for and what they can do. If you need to say many things about your brand, then your brand is unclear to others and they will not know what you can offer,” says Chong, as the discussion focused on how it is important for Chinese brands to find their own identity and be comfortable about it, and not simply to emulate Western ideas.

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Several case studies were used to show how harnessing their inherent assets could take brands beyond generic design and marketing to produce unique propositions for themselves that are believable, authentic, and internationally relevant. One case also gave an example of this: FastFlow Group, an industrial provider of drainage systems, wanted their new identity to be ‘Green’. However, Consulus found that it was better to focus on their technical expertise and knowledge base, and that being ‘Green’ is no longer a differentiator, as it has become an expectation of everyone.

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The session concluded with a Question-and-Answer session, where many participants expressed their views and concerns. Ultimately, it looks like Chinese firms are truly on the brink of discovering branding that can shape the world, and we are there to help them.