18 Sept 2014
Hong Kong and the Mainland "Going Out" Together (2): Hong Kong Designers to Offer Total Solution on Branding Strategy
Chinese mainland companies are intent on strengthening their brands in order to make headway in an intensely competitive market and to, ultimately, ensure sustainable growth in the long term. Hong Kong brand designers have an international ethos, one that combines the best of the East and West, and are thereby able to provide total solution when it comes to branding strategies.
Overall, they are ideally positioned to provide comprehensive, cross-sector services, including graphic design, products, shop décor and multi-media work. As such, they offer a considerable advantage to those mainland enterprises seeking to improve their branding in both the Chinese and overseas markets amid China’s "going out" and "bringing in" initiatives.
Offering branding strategies
Mainland enterprises with strong production capacity and distribution networks have mushroomed as the Chinese economy has taken off. Among them, a number are seeking to expand their business within a short time in order to secure a firm foothold in the market. Despite these, many companies are indeed of the desire to maintain their competitiveness in the longer term perspective through ‘transformation and upgrade’, in view of the changing market environment, intensified competition from both local and foreign players and the fast changing demands of clients or consumers. Some of them are pro-actively seeking cooperation with foreign brands, while looking for support services related to branding and promotion strategies in the hope of boosting their business development by developing or improving their existing brand business.
Speaking to HKTDC Research, Charles Ng, CEO and creative director of Maxi Communications Ltd (MCL), said: "In spite of the economic slowdown, many mainland companies of good standing are still thriving and, therefore, have no real concerns for the next year or so. Many of them, though, still lack long-term development strategies. For example, they do not have a strategy to upgrade their regional brands into national, or even international brands. Nor do they have the ability to correctly position their products and services in the domestic and overseas markets.
"Hong Kong brand designers are well-acquainted with international market trends. They also understand Chinese culture and spending habits, while having a rich experience of serving multinational companies. They can make up for the shortfalls of mainland companies when it comes to understanding the culture and business practices of foreign companies and effectively assist them in 'going out' and collaborating with international brands. They can also offer brand diagnosis, research, brand image, market positioning, promotion strategies, product design, market services and brand training, in China and beyond," Ng said.
Service rather than cost considerations
The work of Hong Kong’s brand designers extends to China's major areas of economic development, including Guangdong province, where there are numerous export-oriented enterprises. They also work in Jiangsu province and Shanghai in the Yangtze River Delta, which both have a high concentration of national sales headquarters and service-oriented enterprises. Cost, however, is a major consideration for many Hong Kong designers heading north to provide services. In addition to which, major Chinese cities already have brand designers and consultants, meaning market competition is keen.
Ng said: "Whether they are focussing on opening up overseas markets or concentrating on tapping domestic opportunities, mainland companies require designers and consultants to provide comprehensive brand development strategies and total brand design solutions. They need help from the designers to identify the appropriate direction for long-term business development, rather than just provide design services or market analysis. For this reason, they set greater store on the ability of designers to understand their long-term needs, while offering solutions in line with the pulse of the times. Put simply, cost is not their only concern.
"Although Hong Kong designers may not know Chinese cities as well as their mainland counterparts, mainland companies generally set greater store on the ability of Hong Kong designers to come up with better strategies and make more objective analyses. Additionally, Hong Kong designers offer more than just brand design services. Instead, they offer a complete suite of marketing, product design, corporate management, training and other related services. Hong Kong can also support its brand designers in providing a one-stop service on the mainland. This is one of Hong Kong's advantages.”
MCL primarily provides Hong Kong and mainland clients with comprehensive branding services, which include brand building, planning, design and management. Its Hong Kong clients include Hung Fook Tong Group Holdings Ltd (herbal tea and food) and Giormani Group (furniture). Among its mainland clients are Shenzhen Zhongbao Guoan Industrial (security services), Guangzhou Winpard Industrial (fashion), Luk Ka International (printing), Huayi (lighting) and Vatti (kitchenware and home electric appliances). MCL also boasts an impressive client base in the Pearl River Delta and Yangtze River Delta regions, having already built "extraordinary brands" in these locations.
In his role as Chairman of the Hong Kong Brands Association, Charles Ng helps promote the development of Hong Kong's branding and design industry.
Remark: For more information about China’s “going out”, please refer to the research article Jiangsu/YRD: Hong Kong Service Opportunities Amid China's "Going Out" Initiative and the research report China's "Going Out" Initiative: Jiangsu/YRD Demand for Professional Services of the HKTDC Research