In recent years, the rapid advancement of digital technology has transformed how procurement is normally done. With the popularity of e-commerce, businesses have become more willing to accept and adopt e-procurement. In fact, many multinational corporations have already started to purchase their goods via e-procurement. According to the Intelligence Research Group, global cross-border e-commerce will continue to maintain a high level of growth. Information and communication technologies drive the optimization of traditional trading, injecting new energy into global trading with new alternatives, such as cross-border e-commerce platforms, intelligent logistics, AI monitoring, etc. Most Mainland companies currently rely on manual procurement processes, which leads to lower efficiency, difficulties to trace procurement history, and hinders their ability to implement quality control. In response to the principle and spirit of “One Belt, One Road”, MasterBid decided to enter the Mainland market and provide a well-developed and transparent procurement platform for reliable buyers. The platform is known for its supervision and control over procurement along with competitive pricing, helping to promote Chinese enterprises’ large-scale procurement in countries within the Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI). MasterBid is the Chinese counterpart of a family of e-marketplaces that was set up in 2002. The group was incorporated in Russia under the name of B2B-Center, which grew to become the largest marketplace for corporate procurement in the country with approximately 280,000 clients participating in the marketplace. B2B-Center enables its business clients to list and sell, or find and procure, products and services, and thus extend sales channels for suppliers while improving efficiency in supply chain management. The group has a presence in Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, and China and a daily trading volume of US$ 100-900 million and average transaction sizes of approximately US$ 390,000. Wanting to expand into the Chinese market to cater to the BRI countries, B2B-Center required DSIGN’s help to appeal to the Chinese market. With a large number of cultural differences and disconnect with the Chinese audience, they wanted a completely new Brand Identity to become more relatable for this market. DSIGN was faced with the challenge to rethink the brand’s visual identity and position them to adopt the Chinese culture. The DSIGN team wanted to keep the core values of the brand intact and also redesign the brand name and logo to highlight the value B2B-Center would bring to its customers.

1. Naming Strategy

A strong brand name and logo are essential to be able to capture the audience’s attention. It is one of the first things that a customer looks at and gauges the value and positioning of the brand. Since the original name was not unique and recognizable in China, the brand wanted to enter the BRI region with a redesigned identity. The DSIGN team started from scratch to reposition the brand name. After conducting research about B2B platforms and understanding the market for online procurement, we were able to devise a naming strategy for effective positioning. We started with the word “Master” which gave the connotation of the large set of skills and proficiency in a certain domain. From here the English name was phonetically translated to the Chinese name along with the tagline “everything is possible with MasterBid”.

2. Visual Identity

A strong visual identity would serve as a benchmark for strong brand equity and set the precedence for entry into the new market. The brand name was phonetically translated to create a connection with the logo and make it easier for the customer to associate with the brand image. The logo design was inspired by the logo of B2B-Center and the color scheme of Red and Black was continued to create synergy within the family of brands. This was combined with a red “tick” to maintain the corporate style and indicate the meaning of success. On top of that, the“√“ symbol was incorporated into the letter 万, adding a sense of playfulness to the formality of the brand logo. The red color is auspicious in Chinese culture, signifying luck, joy, and happiness. This would help resonate with the brand image of prosperity within the Chinese market.

3. Brand Storytelling

In order to attract customers and get them curious about MasterBid, it was important to create a story around the name and the brand. The story is helpful in giving the brand identity and allows customers to empathize and relate to the brand better. Using this narrative it was easier for the customers to connect to the brand name with a focus on what the brand represents and the value it brings to the customers. We established a content center for MasterBid and generated a content calendar with their team to deliver content at regular intervals. We were also responsible for copywriting and channel exposure. Compared to B2C content, B2B content tends to focus on facts and specs. We usually conduct research on the industry, allowing us to have a deeper understanding before writing. We also asked for clarification in questions that might have arisen during research and revised content when necessary. It is crucial to think from the readers’ perspective since the practice helps to improve content readability and deliver relevant information. In alignment with the content volume and readability, our team also created media releases for great online exposure. Since the brand was largely B2B-focused, DSIGN decided to devise a content calendar with sequential PR releases and media outreach. The content focused on the journey of the CEO and revolved around various events to bring the community together. This was rolled out on Chinese media platforms like Zhihu to make the content more accessible and easier to interact with. Moreover, we assisted in organizing offline events for MasterBid, including media pitching with other leading corporations, like Huawei and Sinopec. We were able to enhance the brand story by keeping a consistent theme for the supporting materials like business cards and brochures. The red and black color palette gave the brand a unique and distinctive identity. Several templates were created for keynotes and office application documents that would increase brand recognition and give the company a more professional look and feel.

Conclusion

With the help of DSIGN, MasterBid was able to establish a solid presence in the BRI region. Differentiating itself as a B2B cloud marketplace for online procurement of goods and services designed especially for the Chinese market. After a long period of collaboration, we wanted to share with you some key takeaways from this project:
  1. Leverage Personal IP to Bolster Brand Influence Personal IP is an intangible asset for all brands, for example, Apple (Steve Job), Xiaomi (Lei Jun), and Gree (Dong Mingzhu). Therefore, when we designed the identity of MasterBid, we intentionally emphasized the personal influence of the CEO.
  2. Strengthen Government Relationships Maintaining a good relationship with the government is crucial for multinational companies. In this project, we helped MasterBod build its networks with other Mainland parties and a close relationship with the government.
  3. Macro and Micro under different contexts When looking for ways for better communication, we realized that it can be achieved through 2 angles: macro and micro. Macro-wise, we emphasized the bigger picture, such as future trends, long-term cooperation, and the value of B2B. Micro, on the other hand, focused on the cooperation details, supplier processes, lowering costs, and increasing reliability via automated procurement.