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Guide to localizing your brand messaging for the China market

Many businesses come to China with an ambitious growth plan, but few take time to assess their messaging and positioning, which is critical to the business’s long-term success.


A common objection to brand localization is that it distracts from a brand’s global strategy and makes it hard for the marketing team to maintain global consistency. But in reality, localizing your message can bring more benefits than harm. It means taking into account cultural preferences, local interests, and other nuances to support a good product-market fit.


China has a unique business environment and media landscape. This lucrative market will continue to play a key role in the global economy, and nailing this crucial part of the equation can positively impact your business for years to come.


A strong local narrative and messaging is the core of your go-to-market strategy. It’s from this foundation that you’ll be able to build a successful venture.


The top three mistakes global brands make when entering the China market (and how to prevent them)


Failing to achieve cultural relevance


When entering China, many brands have fallen victims to crass translations that can misinterpret their brand message and negatively impact their business.


One typical mistake B2B brands make is to use Google Translation or a translation agency to localize their content without articulating the cultural relevance. This often leads to a disengaged audience and confusion.


Simply translating your global message to Chinese would be insufficient. Instead, you want a solid message that clearly relates to the market and your core audience.


Not spending enough time understanding local customers’ pain points


Another common mistake among many B2B companies, especially those who are new to the market, is not investing enough time to understand their local customers and their true pain points.


The buyer persona that works well in your home country doesn't necessarily work in China because of the market complexity and cultural differences. Companies need to carefully study their local customer behaviors and understand their real needs in order to craft a compelling message.


Sharing a diluted message


One of the most common mistakes marketing teams make when they’re first defining their local messaging is trying to convey too much. However, including too many elements in the brand’s messaging strategy will dilute your message to the audience. A clear, focused message that communicates your key differentiators and solutions to customer pain points can be much more effective.


Messaging localization is an essential step for your company’s success in China


Any global marketer needs to work on a laser-focused messaging strategy for a China incursion. Without it, they’re bound to fail.


Remember, you’re entering a new market with a lot of competition. It’s key to demonstrate why your business matters to your local stakeholders. Otherwise, you’ll be lost in the noise.


To help you start, we’ve created a brand messaging workbook with four exercises to help you develop a localized brand message for the China market.