Why Online Companies are Paying Attention to Branding



Branding has always been important to marketing a business in the consumer market. However, online companies have recently started to pay more attention to their brand and the image that is associated with their brand. For the past few years, online companies have not relied much on their image, instead, the relied on the good deals that they can offer the consumer market to be the main selling point for those who are shopping online. Why the sudden change in paying attention to the brand image of the company?

Why Branding is Becoming Vital

Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba are three of the biggest online companies that are now paying attention to their branding and how the public sees them. Many believe that Alibaba is doing so after dropping a few percentage points in sales since their initial public offering. In addition, considering how many companies are now struggling with counterfeit products on their websites, having a strong brand image and reputation is one of the ways to undo the damage that has happened.

However, other people are pointing out that the Chinese economy has become a bit slow moving. Due to this, it is the perfect time to ensure that companies are taking stock of who they are, and then stating this to the public. Many professionals are using the example of social media startups that were great, but then burned out quickly. For example, Renren was once the go to social media site, however, it was quickly overshadowed by WeChat. According to Lewis Rosa, the head of Strategy for Havas Worldwide Digital in China:

“The best brands don’t have a shelf life. The best brands innovate and refresh and revitalize themselves.”

Many professionals, such as Darren Burns, the president of Weber Shandwick China, has stated that investors are a huge reason why these online companies are now trying to brand themselves to the public better. Burns stated:

“Most investors or media would never use Chinese internet players’ product, so education is critical.”

How The Big Companies are Branding Themselves to the Public

As stated beforehand, Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent are working towards making their brand being seen in the world as one that is promising and offers great products. Alibaba has been working with a design company, and in return has released the “Alibaba Defined” media. The idea for Alibaba was to explain who they are and what all they offer the world. In the video that Alibaba released, they showcased how people were selling on Alibaba, as well as how this helps the common person in every aspect of their life.

Baidu, who has often been compared to Google of the United States, has started to work with Studio output, a brand agency. The goal of Baidu is to prove that they are more than just a search engine. The brand wants to highlight that they are working on self-driving cars and artificial intelligence.

Tencent is working with Fred & Farid for their brand development. In response to this partnership, Tencent released a video at Mother’s Day that showcased younger people helping their mothers learning how to decode the technology of China, something that is ever changing in the Chinese market. What all three companies have in common is that they are taking the initiative to ensure that their brands are not going to fall under as the online world in China is constantly changing and adapting to the consumer need. Like Burns pointed out:

“In many ways China is creating a parallel or pioneering universe for the internet and e-commerce…it needs to explain it better.”

About Author

Social Brand Watch (SBW) is a collection of experts in digital, mobile and social media in China. SBW was created to complement Resonance's China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly report focusing on modern marketing methods of the world's top brands in China.

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