You’ve created a well-established, successful business that resonates with your local market. Business stakeholders are asking, ‘What’s next?’ and encouraging you to branch into the Chinese market. 

With increased consumer spend coupled with the development of the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone (SFTZ), and the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), Western brands are increasingly looking to break into the China market. To truly make an impact, it’s not enough to simply roll out a Western brand and / or marketing strategy and hope to make, the right, lasting impression on a Chinese audience. 

Scott Bouvier, King & Wood Mallesons’ Senior Intellectual Property Partner, spoke at a recent Australia China Business Council event, on the realities of Western brands establishing themselves in a China market and how protecting your brand intellectual property is vital. (See video above).

Bouvier urges all Western brands to do their homework on the following three factors vital to establishing a secure, well-respected brand in China:

1. First impressions count! Tailor your brand to the China audience. Not all Western words, phrases or images will translate literally into Chinese. Meanings can also vary between Chinese Mandarin, Cantonese and Hokkien dialects. So it’s so imperative businesses work with experts who understand the Chinese language and cultural nuances to generate the right Chinese name and characters for your brand, while maintaining a message that echoes and brings out your brand’s value propositions. Public perception and trends in China should also be considered before finalising your brands Chinese implementation. 

2. Register your Trade Mark (TM) ASAP. China is fast becoming a desirable market for Western brands to tap into. This will only increase once ChAFTA is signed later this year. Of 138 company directors surveyed this year, a total of 26.3% expect to see cross-border investment into China in 2015. Up from 15% of 2014 survey respondents*. 

Establishing a unique brand name and message, that sets you apart from competitors will quickly become like finding a needle in a haystack! So it’s incredibly important that once a Western brand confirms their China brand names and message, they file their China TM applications to ensure base brand protection. 

China has a first to file TM system. Put simply, first in first served. Ensuring your brand is a registered trademark in China will ensure Chinese trade; marketing and IP laws apply and protect your brand. Bouvier has worked with many successful Western brands and considers it absolutely essential to ensure their business success in the China market. 

3. Implement a brand protection strategy. While there are some similarities between Australian and Chinese marketing laws, there are unique Chinese regulations Western brands must adhere to. It’s also important to ensure consistent brand use and messaging by franchisees and distributors to develop the integrity of your brand in the China market. 

Align your business with the right knowledge and expertise to ensure you create a brand protection strategy specific to China. Incorporate regular check in’s to ensure risk mitigation and save any negative business impacts for the continued success of your business.