Friendly and Fun Brand Identity: A New Trend in Naming and Design in China
As we step into the social media era, the swift flow of information and the cross-platform sharing experience are creating a new form of interpersonal relationships. People directly participate in forming cultural trends by actively listening and communicating instead of being passive accepters of information.
This is making a difference in commercial brand building. Consumers no longer accept the “You Say, I Listen” model, but expect to interact with brands more directly. This not only includes visible interactions online and offline, but also the emotional interactions through various brand touch points. To be specific, when consumers see brand information, they expect it to relate to their life experience, giving them a more lively and personal understanding of the brand to make an impression. Therefore, brand messages must be more relatable to consumers’ lives and emotions.
If we take a look at the brands in today’s market, we will find quite a lot of “unusual” brand names such as 小米 (little rice) and 锤子 (hammer) smartphones. These names are fun and easy, appearing more friendly and relatable than conventional brand names. These kinds of names help brands stand out from competitors and are easier to recognize understand and remember. Moreover, these names provide emotional elements, creating a good start for brand storytelling.
Speaking of friendly and fun brand names, social media websites also embrace this trend. Examples include 豆瓣 (douban), 下厨房 (go to the kitchen), 去哪儿 (where to go), 赶集 (go to the market) and more.
We can find some shared attributes among the above names.
1) The characters/phrases have close relationship with everyday life
2) Choosing spoken language over written style
3) Casual and fun, not serious
A brand name is the first connection between a brand and its consumers, but definitely not the only one. Besides brand names, visual identity is also important in establishing a friendly brand identity. Visual elements give people a different perspective on learning about brands.
Taiwanese fast noodle brand, 张君雅小妹妹 (Little Sister Zhang Ya Juan), creates successful emotional communication with consumers through its unique and systematic brand names, visual designs and social media activities and becomes highly popular amongst young people.
Themed MSN emoticons
Daily diary blog, using hand writing style to appear authentic
Create real-life senarios on Facebook to interact with consumers
Zhang Junya consistently explores brand touch points that include brand name, visual identity and advertising in order to keep the brand identity aligned. By exploring innovative social media activities, the brand successfully created a highly differentiated, humanized brand image that appeals to young people. Consumers will receive the same messages of Zhang Junya from all touch points, thus the connection between the consumers and the brand is strengthened.
It is important to note that a friendly identity is not suitable for all brands. Decision makers should evaluate whether friendly associations are relevant, considering its brand positioning and long term strategy, to avoid negative associations (such as being casual and unprofessional). In contrast, a serious and neutral identity can be perceived as professional and clear. Therefore, B2B, industrial, legal or financial brands may not be a good match for a friendly image.
Brands need to distinguish relevant cultural trends and effectively transform them into brand actions in order to grow brand strength and stature.