O'Brien, Mark, Sun, Qian and Zhoui, Fang (2009) Consultants, Clients and Chinese context: Managing Brands in China. In: D2B2: the 2nd Tsinghua International Design Management Symposium, 23-26 April 2009, Tsinghua University , Beijing , China.

The Creative sector in China has, in keeping with the economy, experienced a sustained period of rapid growth. However, the sector is still relatively immature and practices and understanding of the management of brands and client accounts are continuing to develop.
Current Brand management practices tend to have evolved from western models and may not be as appropriate to a Chinese cultural and business context. Both clients and consultancies have become increasingly aware of the value of brands and the importance of effective management. This paper examines the current state of development of the Brand consultancy sector in China. It examines the cultural context of business in China, the nature of client and consultancy relationships and the sector within the PRC. Through a series of case studies it examines the nature of the relationships between clients and consultancies. Comparing the experiences of Chinese clients using both local and International agencies and the experiences of international organisations attempting to enter the Chinese market and their experience of working with Chinese agencies. It examines cultural and business relationships between creative partners, draws comparisons from the UK sector and suggests recommendations for improvements.

A structured programme of research has been undertaken to assess the sector and a series of interviews have taken place with industry practitioners in order to establish the following:

1. The nature of the Brand consultancy sector in China. Its history, culture, scope, practices and the nature of individual consultancies and client organisations
2. To understand the process of Brand and relationship management in a Chinese cultural and business context and to examine the differences in experience between client organisations commissioning either local or International consultancies.

The study concludes with an evaluation of the Chinese cultural and business context and its relation to the Brand management process and evaluates this in terms of the expected scenarios suggested by a variety of theoretical perspectives.

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