Perspectives 2008 - Fascination or fear: What does Brand China stand for today?

Zoran Svetlicic, Dorothy Chau and Olivia Lee

Staying in a Beijing hotel these days presents the visitor to China with a stark contrast. If you turn on the TV in the morning and listen to a CNN news anchor hyperventilate about the latest hacker attack or poisonous Barbie recall, you might fear opening the hotel door. But when you venture down into the city streets, you’ll experience an entirely different China. You will see people from all over the world with fascination in their eyes — fascination with money, the Forbidden Palace, or the new Olympic architecture.

We at Landor wanted to understand the true perception of China around the world. Is it fear, fascination, or something in between? What does Brand China — the set of associations that people have with China based on its culture, history, behaviors, and exports — stand for today? How does it compare to other country brands? What drives its strengths and weaknesses? And, crucially, what does its image mean to homegrown Chinese brands that are looking to compete and win on the global stage?