We Are Social China website team asked me to write a few sentences on the topic "How can Chinese brands stand out creatively in 2020 in global markets?" for their blog, and I am posting my full response here.

Since one of the secret sauce we apply is to think of a brand as a person (i.e. brand persona), I want to approach the question from this personal angle. Let’s imagine you’re at a “global” party, and you see this person coming into the room. She just have this aura that commands everyone’s attention in the room, but it’s a je-ne-sais-quoi presence that you can’t quite put your finger on: Is it the attire? The manners and the mannerism? The way she tells stories but also listen to the guests around her? All of the above, perhaps? Yes, but I would also argue it’s something deeper, something within: her confidence.

It’s been a long way from China “the world’s factory” to China having industry-leading brands on the global stage (and we’re quite lucky to be working with a few of them here), and I would argue that for 2020, for Chinese leading brands to stand out creatively is to have this confidence in their own brand and message.

Of course the basics have to be there: good product offering, well-defined brand identity, etc. Building on top of that foundation, confidence means knowing who you are, and who you are not. Confidence means you’re comfortable in your own skin, to approach audience who may not know you or know you well, and still present who you are in a way that’s welcoming and friendly. Confidence enables you to attentively listen and understand to your audience, understand what they’re looking for, and craft an engaging story that commands their attention, rather than having to shout your message across all channels. Confidence enables you to have authentic conversations not just with your audience, but also with other collaborators, from influencers to other brands, be it for co-branding or just social interactions (think how confident Burger King is when interacting with McDonald’s, especially on social platforms). Confidence helps you go to where your new market opportunities and new audiences are residing (even if only digitally) but still know your place and what you want them to know about you.

With confidence, creativity would then just an exercise in the outward expression of that self-assured and honest desire to connect with people in meaningful ways.