Helping kiwi brands succeed in China

Helping kiwi brands succeed in China

Jonathan shephered

6 November 2012, 4:52PM

Jonathan shephered


After expanding into Beijing two years ago, New Zealand company Voice Brand Agency has opened its doors in Hong Kong and is helping kiwi exporters translate their brands for this fast-paced, complex market.

With more than 25 years experience working in different markets across the globe, Voice has a proven track record in brand development and management. So, for Creative Director Jonathan Sagar, opening an office in Beijing was simply the next logical step for the company.

"The export-led nature of many of our New Zealand clients saw us increasingly working in the Asian region. Moving into Beijing, and now Hong Kong, has meant we've been able to expand our capabilities, as well as apply our practical, fresh approach to a new market."

Jonathan discovered that the Voice methodology - kiwi know-how and creativity mixed with clear thinking and pragmatic problem solving - was very relevant in the Chinese market.

"We are a proudly kiwi company, and that seems to be well received in China. Over there, brand companies are often big and cumbersome, so our kiwi 'can-do' attitude and quick thinking is seen as a welcome approach. We understand the fast pace of market change so we aim to provide fast, smart solutions and brands that are relevant to the local market - 'brands for now'."

While Voice's initial plan was to simply offer their services to the local Asian market, Jonathan saw an opportunity that lay closer to home.

"We understood that many New Zealand retail exporters were struggling to get their brand to connect with customers at a local level in China. The market is much more sophisticated over there - a 'one size fits all' approach simply doesn't work.

"China is already a significant trade parter for New Zealand and the recent Free Trade Agreement means this will only increase over the next 20 years. The kiwi exporters who will succeed are the ones who recognize that their brand must be meaningful and relevant locally."

Jonathan and his team spent 18 months in Beijing investigating and developing an understanding of the local market and what customers are looking for.

"For us personally, this meant re-thinking the way we offered our own services. We unpacked our methodology into small, clear product offerings - which allowed us to be more useful and flexible. Clients could pick and choose what they needed from us.

"We also gained an understanding of how New Zealand businesses, and other global companies, could successfully translate and activate their brand to connect with Chinese consumers - and at the end of the day that's what will drive success."

In Hong Kong, Voice have partnered with local company Creative Underground - a full service marketing and advertising agency with a focus on creative digital content.

"Our partnership with Creative Underground allows us to translate, launch and activate global brands into the local market. Our offerings are quite different, but we compliment one another and together we offer an end-to-end solution - from brand definition and launch to marketing and communication.

"For our customers it's seamless - there's one point of contact, and they're working with kiwis as well as the best of local talent."

With award winning work already created for ASUS/Intel, Bayer and Levitra, Voice Hong Kong is off to a flying start. For Jonathan, this comes down to the understanding that activating a brand within the Asian region is a specific science.

"The markets are complex and sophisticated - you need agencies and creatives who are in touch and on the ground and who can move quickly to translate your brand and connect with customers at a local level.

"We've taken our no-nonsense kiwi approach and applied it to develop some solid brand thinking that is simple, intuitive, relevant and localized. And so far, it seems to be working."

For Media Enquiries:

Jonathan Sagar
Director, Voice Brand Agency
+64 09 373 5086
+64 021 466 193