You’ve analyzed all the market possibilities, weighed the pros and cons of each, crunched the numbers and finally reached a decision: your company will expand into China. Now the hard work begins!
Your success in China will depend on the mode & timing of your entry, your ability to overcome geographical & cultural distances, how well you manage economic & political risk, your finesse in maneuvering through regulatory issues and perfecting the ability to communicate successfully with your local audience.
This is a lot to accomplish. YBD Translations has the people, experience and expertise to help you navigate the process and achieve success in China – and here are a few of the top tips we can offer.
1) Mode of Entry – Choose a Strong Partner
Charlee Yang, YBD’s resident expert on doing business in China, recommends developing an alliance with a reputable company that is already established in China, based in China, or has experience dealing with the Chinese and their cultural nuances. According to Charlie:
“A Chinese partner can provide guidance on legal regulations, locations, workforce assistance and cultural issues. They may also have an infrastructure to help you procure or distribute your product. Those services are invaluable, and while it may cut into your profit margin, it will provide the valuable business acumen needed to hit the ground running.”
2) Understand the Languages and Linguistic Considerations
Many people preparing to do business in China are confused about which version of Chinese they need to use when communicating with Chinese partners & customers or translating documents.
Standard Mandarin is the official spoken language of Mainland China and Taiwan. With 885 million native speakers, Mandarin has more native speakers than any other language. Since Mandarin is a spoken language, you would request it in situations where you require an interpreter to facilitate communication with a Mandarin speaker.
Cantonese is the language spoken in Hong Kong, Macau, and parts of southern China, specifically the province of Guangdong. Like Mandarin, since it is a spoken language, an interpreter would be required to facilitate communication with a Cantonese speaker.
Traditional Chinese is one of two standard sets of characters used in the Chinese written language. It is the written form of Chinese used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. Traditional characters have changed little since the 5th century.
Simplified Chinese is the official written form of Chinese used in mainland China and the United Nations. In 1949, the government of the People’s Republic of China introduced simplified Chinese characters to increase literacy. The characters were simplified from Traditional Chinese characters by reducing strokes and merging characters.
There are some additional things to be aware of when translating documents into Chinese. Remember that the fonts you use in your publications may not support Chinese characters.
Keep in mind that text tends to contract when translated from English to Chinese, and expands when translated from Chinese to English. For applications, it is important to ensure your application is internationalized (double-byte enabled to support Chinese characters).
3) Invest in Cultural Training
You WILL confront cultural differences when doing business in China, and these will likely be more acute and critical than any culture differences you’ve ever experienced when conducting business elsewhere in the world.
Intercultural training can help your employees navigate the many cultural and social landmines that could derail your attempts in China. The training will also provide your employees with vital skills necessary to succeed in doing business with the Chinese, such as cross-cultural communication, diversity awareness, cultural sensitivity, adaptability, empathy, uncertainty management, and tolerance for ambiguity.
4) Have Your Brand Names Analyzed
Consumer goods giants such as Pepsi and KFC are famous for the blunders they made in China with their brands, and though these examples have long been a source of amusement, it’s not very funny when you’re the one losing business and repairing damage to your brand.
Your brand is perhaps your most valuable asset. It’s your identity. You’ve already invested a great deal into it, so it makes sense to invest a bit more to have your brand evaluated before entering new foreign markets.
That’s why YBD offers Brand Name Checking services. A brand name analysis addresses the following issues:
Prior use of the brand name in the target market
Similarity of the brand name to other companies, products or services.
Direct translation or similarity of brand name to existing words in target language.
Negative cultural connotations or possible offensiveness.
Unclear use of colloquial language, slang, or idioms in the brand name or slogan.
Ease of pronunciation and recollection.
A Chinese market-specific analysis of your brands ensures accurate representation of your brand image and company message in your foreign markets.