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The importance of having a Chinese version of your brand: It’s much more than just a name.

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In the first of two parts, London based- Chinese focused agency, Qumin examines the importance of branding in China and the benefits of creating a Chinese brand name.

The first question many businesses who are looking to launch into the Chinese market ask is: “Should I give my brand a Chinese name?” If you are one of them, you may have heard different opinions. However, after six years of helping brands launch their businesses to China, our answer to this question is a firm yes.

“Clothes make the man; saddles make the horse.” This popular Chinese idiom may shed some light on the importance of a good Chinese name — it’s the first impression Chinese customers will have of your brand.

Chinese is one of, if not the most difficult language to learn in the world because it’s constructed with a interdependent character-pronunciation system. Kangxi Dictionary, Chinese equivalent of Oxford English Dictionary, registers over 40,000 characters, each containing a unique meaning. Among them, about 5,000 are of common usage.

Phonetically, pronunciation of all these characters are pronounced, in standard Chinese (Mandarin), are subject to a total of 23 consonants and 24 vowels, which can make over 400 individual phonemes. And as you may have already known, four intonations are applied to each phoneme.

Therefore, when you give your brand a Chinese name, you are not only coming up a set of syllables fit for the local language environment, but also you are choosing Chinese characters to reflect your brands’ identity.

The biggest benefit a Chinese name can bring to your brand is that it’s easier for Chinese customers to remember. Comparing the search results of the same brand’s English name and Chinese name reveals that Chinese name tends to be searched and spoken a lot more frequently than the brand name in its original form, despite the popularity of the brand.

Under Armour and Heathrow brands in China

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Above are sports brand Under Armour and Heathrow’s WeChat Index results. Under Armour’s English name is only 1/10 as popular as its Chinese name, 安德玛 (pronounced An-de-ma). On the right, is that of our client Heathrow Airport’s WeChat Index result. The difference in search and mention rates is similar to Under Amour.

A culturally suitable and daringly creative Chinese name can also massively influence your branding and positioning in the eyes of potential Chinese customers. BMW’s full name is a direct and humble one, Bavarian Motors Works, however, when upon entering China in the 80s, the brand starts to use the Chinese name of 宝马 (pronounced Bao-ma), a masterful creation meaning “fine horse”.

There are three commonly used approaches in terms of name trans-creation. First is phonetic translation, which is to find character combinations that are closest to the pronunciation in the original language without considering its cultural implication — in most cases of literal translations there is none, like Sony (pronounced as Suo-ni).

Then if you feel like to convey in the Chinese name the core message of the brand is the priority, then you probably should do what General Motors (通用, pronounced as Tong-yong, meaning “can used everywhere”) does, literal translation.

Finally, if your ambition is to give your brand a strong identity and at the same time easy to remember, an organic combination of the two approaches above is needed to create a truly meaningful name also truthful to its origin.

Some examples of the genius of some brands’ Chinese names include American cosmetic brand Revlon’s beautiful 露华浓 (pronounced as Lu-hua-nong), excerpted from the Tang Dynasty romantic poet Li Bai’s poem, meaning “flowers nourished by the morning dew is blossoming”, and sandwich chain Subway’s 赛百味 (pronounced as Sai-bai-wei), proudly claiming in its name “it tastes better than 100 types of food.”

In the past few years, we’ve been working with a few clients on crafting their Chinese brand names. We helped Water Babies, premium baby swimming lessons provider in the UK, to come up with its new Chinese name — 沃特宝贝 (pronounced as Wo-teh-bao-bey).

Please get in touch if you are interested in having a brand new Chinese name for your brand (no pun intended).

Frank Ye, copy creative, Qumin

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Kleenex rebrands ‘mansize’ tissues as ‘extra-large’ in the name of equality

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Tissue brand Kleenex is to excise its ‘mansize’ range in favour of ‘extra-large’ in order to counter allegations of sexism.

Kleenex Extra Large will take to the shelves in a uni-sex sales push amid mounting criticism of the choice of wording, a hangover from the 1950s when the brand first launched ‘Kleenex for Men’ as an alternative to large cotton handkerchiefs.

Continuing that tradition the outsize hankies are claimed to be 'comfortingly soft and strong so you can be confident it won't let you down'.

A spokesperson for Kleenex parent company Kimberley-Clark said: “We are always grateful to customers who take time to tell us how our products can be improved, and we carefully consider all suggestions. Thanks to recent feedback we are now rebranding our mansize tissues to Kleenex Extra Large.”

The roll-out is already underway with ‘mansize’ stock no longer being replaced.

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Business on the Move: Papa John's, Pot Noodle, British Land, and more

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Welcome to The Drum's Business on the Move column, where we collate agency account news, reviews, agency launches, rebrands and acquisitions.

Americas wins

Data intelligence specialist Teradata has entrusted their brand and marketing duties John McNeil Studio. The relationship will kick off with the creation of a redesigned brand identity and the launch of an awareness campaign comprising new messaging and visuals.

Havas Media has been named integrated media agency of record for pizza chain Papa John’s with immediate effect following a competitive review, according to The Drum. The pizza brand is reviewing its PR, creative and media partners following the dramatic exit of founder John Schnatter.

Brooklyn-based ad agency Madwell has announced a partnership with wireless, digital-only carrier Visible. The team-up will help expand brand presence, develop its launch campaign and establish its voice on social media, reports Bennett Bennett.

Independent shop Barker has been named agency-of-record for Sunsweet Growers Inc, a Californian prune cooperative. The agency's responsibilities include leading strategy, creative and social media across the Sunsweet portfolio in the US.

EMEA wins

Unilever has awarded the creative account for Pot Noodle to Adam&EveDDB, ending its relationship with Lucky Generals. The FMCG giant is in the middle of consolidating its agency roster.

British Land, one of the largest property companies in the UK, has appointed R/GA as its innovation and design partner. The agency has been tasked with crafting a new range of digital services for the property firm’s flexible workspace business.

Independent creative agency Who Wot Why has landed The Gym account after a competitive pitch. The partnership will kick off with a multi-channel campaign, aiming to reposition the chain in this highly competitive low cost gym sector.

High street restaurant chain Gusto Italian has appointed Manchester-based Cube3. The agency has been tasked with using its specialisms in branding, web and digital to create a new website for the chain.

This week's acquisitions

  • Radio group Global is set to acquire Exterion Media, in the latest of a string of acquisitions in the out-of-home space, reports Rebecca Stewart.

  • Strategic marketing agency Home has announced the acquisition of First 10 Digital, a digital experience agency whose clients include Puma, Tilda and Boots Hearingcare.

Apac wins

Publicis Groupe has won the account for the entire government of Singapore, after being appointed the state's master media agency. The selection followed a competitive pitch against 26 other agencies and holding companies, reports The Drum's Shawn Lim.

Launches

New marketing, media and creative content agency 9th Wonder has launched out of Houston. The business, built from The Company collective of independent agencies, has launched with seven offices, a staff of over 250 and 100 clients.

Digital media specialist Jungle Creations has launched a new e-commerce business – Lovimals. The brand will offer consumers personalised socks and lifestyle accessories featuring hand-drawn portraits of their pets.

Got a story or tip for Business on the Move? Send your acquisitions, reviews, account wins and launch news to sam.bradley@thedrum.com.

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The CMO Swap: What happened when Tribe’s CMO stepped into the shoes of a Britvic marketing luminary?

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What happens when you get a marketer at one of the world’s biggest beverage brands to trade places for the day with the founder of a two-year-old startup? The Drum and Fetch have decided to find out, launching a bold social experiment in the form of The CMO Swap.

In the spirit of pairing the old with the new we decided to swap a chief marketing officer from a brand with over 160 years heritage with the founder of a direct-to-consumer brand just two years into launch – enter Britvic’s global category director Ash Tailor and Tom Stancliffe founder of natural sports nutrition brand Tribe.

After Tailor had embedded himself into Tribe’s trendy London office, Stancliffe headed on down to Britvic's Hemel Hampsted HQ.

With zero TV-budget and a focus on putting the customer at the very heart of its marketing via digital and influencer campaigns, Tribe offers subscriptions to healthy bars and shakes. It also regularly brings together a community of everyday athletes through fitness classes and events.

It’s roots are firmly planted in its 75,000-strong community, since that’s how the whole business began.

The London-based upstart opened its doors in 2015 after Stancliffe completed a 1,000 mile marathon across Eastern Europe as part of the Run for Love charity event, which inspired him to help athletic people come together; from there selling the nutrition to keep them fuelled became central to its offering.

While the entrepreneur is certainly no stranger to donning his running shoes, stepping into Tailor’s shoes for the day offered a different perspective and Stancliffe was struck by the parallels in the challenges faced by his own firm and Britvic, but also by the contrasts.

Touching on how his own brand was very much focused on its culture and the community it was born out of, Stancliffe said experiencing a day in the life of another marketer had opened his eyes.

“Everyone’s [in the office] has become a bit obsessed by Tribe, maybe there are benefits of seeing other brands, and sharing the learnings," he mused.

As Tailor would on a typical day in the office, Stancliffe joined Britvic and its global packaging agency Bloom for a debrief on some branding work the consultancy had just completed.

He also met with the head of customer engagement for the Tango and Robinsons owner and paid a visit to its glitzy innovation lab where its research and development team are based.

Decked out in a white lab coat and seeing the process behind taking products like Fruit Shoot from conception to launch, Stancliffe’s visit to Britvic towers shone a spotlight on the potential perks of bringing innovation a little closer to home.

“When Tribe wants to do product development we have to go up to our facility in Sunderland or Wales, so it made me think to have the budget and to be able to do that would be amazing.”

He continued: “One of the challenges of working in a startup is that you’re having to create operations and structures from the start and develop new ways of doing things. What’s been amazing here is coming into a more established portfolio of brands and marketing structure, and seeing what that looks like.

“Hopefully [we can] learn from those processes, so we can grow faster and be who we want to be.”

Sign up here to join Fetch as its upcoming Unwired breakfast event on 31 October to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on what else happened when a Tailor and Stancliffe swapped places and what they took away from the experience.

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