brand DNA in China

Podcast transcript #22: tips and tricks to work on your brand DNA in China

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Find here the China paradigm episode 22. Learn more about Louis Houdart’s story in China and find all the details and additional links below.

Full transcript below:

Matthieu David: Hello, everyone. I am Matthieu David, Founder of Daxue Consulting, and this China marketing podcast, China Paradigm, and today we are with Louis Houdart. Thank you for being with us. You are the Founder and CEO of Creative Capital. It’s such a good name by the way. I want to know how you found this name since I know Creative Capital. I feel it’s such a good name for a branding agency in China. So this branding agency has been running for more than 7 years now. You have an office here in main Shanghai, also in New York, in Jakarta, in Shenzhen. You are very active in Shenzhen as far I understood and what is very, very impressive is that you are certainly one of the only foreign service company I know which is mainly working for Chinese clients and that has been for me such an achievement that I’d like to understand much more about how you did it.

And to start with, as I will start the interview, I like to understand the size of the company, where you are in terms of development, you recently joined Altavia which is marketing or personalized marketing in China, a marketing company which enters into the world now, originated from France. So, I like also to understand why you joined them, why you merged with them, how you call it, and what it brought to you? So, thank you very much, Louis, for being with us in this China podcast. Hope I didn’t say anything wrong in the introduction and I am looking forward to understanding you better – how you came up with this name Creative Capital and how you developed this branding agency in China?

Louis Houdart: Hello, Matthieu. Thanks for having me on the show. It’s very exciting to be with you and share some of my insights on what we do and on the trainee’s market, a little bit about Creative Capital. And as you see, Creative Capital is a made-in-China branding agency. About the name – there is a couple of background in a way, so first we are a creative agency, and we like to have the word ‘creative’ inside it; and we also believe that design and creativity is not a way only for the sake of making something beautiful but it is also a way to bring value to different stakeholders and shareholders and, therefore, we put the word actually ‘capital’ linked to it was an interesting parameter. And the third thing is the mission of the company is to help to grow great brands in some of the biggest capital of the world, and we started with Shanghai which is one of the biggest capitals of the world, which is the third reason.

Matthieu David: Okay, so what about the size of the company now, before you joined Altavia or merged with them?

Louis Houdart: So, the size of the company – so we, Shanghai office we have around 30 plus people; everybody is creative. Then we have a small office in Hongkong, we have a head office in Jakarta with around 15 people, and we have a small office in New York. So, these are the main office of Creative Capital.

Matthieu David: 50 people in Jakarta, so you are as big as in China?

Louis Houdart: No. 15 – not 50. China is 30.

Matthieu David: Yeah, it’s okay, but you just said that you have 30 people in total, right?

Louis Houdart: We have around 30 plus people in China, so Jakarta is about half the size, a little bit less than half the size of China. Jakarta has been growing quite quickly for us, actually, we opened the office a year and a half ago, and it’s been run by one of our Shanghai colleagues who became our managing partner in Indonesia.

Matthieu David: Very impressive. Yeah, I remember when you opened the Jakarta office – yeah one and half years ago, two years and now its 15 people. It’s very, very impressive. How about the number of clients? Could you give us an idea of the number of clients within a year or two years or since the beginning?

Louis Houdart: Oh my God, I stopped counting. I don’t know, probably around 100 clients, 100 plus clients. So, we have been working as a branding agency in China, so we have worked mostly with Chinese clients, and as a branding agency, we have been working mostly on strategy projects, so we don’t do much localization or adaptation. And, therefore, if you work on the pure, if you are a rebranding of a brand or brand creation and a lot of the project that we do are long projects, however, of course, we don’t have even extra two months exactly with the same project or with the same clients. So, therefore, we have been growing a lot of client base by client’s referrals. So, lots of our old clients remain good friends, or they have been introducing us to some new friends and new clients, and this is how we have been growing the company. And today at least from Chinese office about 80% of our clients we are having big Chinese companies.

Matthieu David: I’d like to understand better is what did you do for them exactly? Some people use the word branding, but I think it’s overly used. Some people use the word branding for basically managing – which are the gap, managing – where is the gap, building a website but your branding, how do you define branding in China and how do you define what you do for your clients? You talk about branding strategy in China – where does it start, where does it stop? What’s your deliverable? Do you offer a power point, do you offer; what do you offer to your clients at the end of the day?

Louis Houdart: So, our offer is very, very simple. So, we have three fee offer. The first offer that we give to our clients is brand creation, so creating a new brand from scratch. The second offer is brand to the road, or I should say company to the road, to help companies to grow from – have a logo, have a famous logo, so I am selling you a soul, a brand DNA in China, and it’s playing a story to my consumers, and the third offer is helping beautiful foreign brands to localize their message to our Chinese audience.

Number first and number two offer are actually quite specific to the Asian market or Chinese market in a sense but in the brand creation world, quite seldom in the western world, the big groups of the world, the image, we have the loreal, we create a brand from scratch. Therefore, there are few branding agencies actually in the western world have the experience of creating a brand from scratch.

There is a lot of brand being created in the western world, but usually they are created by a small marketing directorial by some design freelancer and together slowly, but surely, they will craft on the creative brands, and after one year they might open one corner or one little shop and after 3 years a second shop. In China it’s a very different scale on games so. Therefore, our clients will usually be very big industrial groups, maybe I don’t know, one of the biggest shoe manufacturers or one of the biggest lingerie manufacturer. And they have the production facility, they have a supply chain and distribution channel and retail channel but they may not have the brand and, therefore, they will come to us and ask us to create from scratch a brand and be a brand story to visual identity to packaging to [inaudible 07:45], so a very 360 approach of the brand to deliver them a branding as a tool that they can then deploy and after one year open maybe 50 shops, after two years maybe a 100 shop and that’s it. So, this is – our first offer.

The second offer is in a way very similar to this first offer is we help a lot of these very famous Chinese names to go from having a famous name to have a brand and therefore we touch in on the different touch point of a brand, whether its visual identity, packaging design, shop design usually working of the three together to help the brand become a very expressive brand that consumers will feel and see and remember. For instance, if you take a brand like L’occitane – if you close your eyes, and you can feel brief [inaudible 08:37] from the red tile to the key visual, I don’t know lavender or French Abbey and it’s all these elements together which gives you a feeling of [inaudible 08:48] which is this methodology that we have been adapting to our Chinese clients, helping them to have a 360 soul that customers can feel it. Now the third offer is to help usually beautiful foreign brands to localize if I may say to Chinese consumer, so in a nutshell it would be let’s say a luxury brand from Paris, so it’s how to – talk about Paris we were choosing the Eiffel Tower, extremely relevant to very sophisticated customer in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Beijing and also even to these can be very relevant to consumers from cities who are very eager to learn but may never have been to Milan or Paris and, therefore, have a more blurry vision of France.

And this will help rid this dilemma that lots of brands have and so this is basically offered. So, which means that our main outputs are actually creative output but very tangible output that brands can adapt immediately. So, this is what we do at Creative Capital.

Matthieu David: So tangible output – is it that we get logos, that we get the brand stories they can copy paste on their website and talk about it, is it colours, is it the wording, is it all this you are going to offer them and the way the salespeople are going to talk about it?

Louis Houdart: It’s going to be a little bit less of the wording but more like visual assets which are going to be indeed the logo, the packaging design, the shop design, they are all of the things that consumer will see when they interact with the brand.

Matthieu David: You talked about Chinese companies different [inaudible 10:40] out a scratch, you talked about the manufacturer’s OEM, could you give us some examples of brands you have? Are they incorporated which don’t say OEM? I remember actually that when we talked together, you talked about some of them, would you mind mentioning some of them?

Louis Houdart: Sure. So, I mean we’ve got plenty of them, we’ve got with the Best Group – Best Group is a group from Jen go. It’s one of the biggest groups in the Optic, they have probably 8 or 9 brands, and we’ve been creating for them three brands – actually three or two, no, two brands – sorry, we have been creating two brands. It’s kind of low and kind of fast fashion glasses brand. We have been creating for them contact lens, colored contact lens brands for very young 18 to 25 years old ladies’ consumers and we have been turning around 12 brands, so when we involve medical optic care and the last one bit more fashion glasses brand, which is one typical type of project that we do.

So, we will, if there is the group which has different brands we would also, we work with them not necessarily on the same brand that you have been working on but working on different brands of the group. We have been working with the group Good Baby which is one of the biggest kids wear brand in China, have a couple of thousand stores, and we have been working with Good Baby the same for two or three different brands, helping either to create new brands for them or turning around some existing brands. We have been working with Aimer, which is the largest lingerie brands. So, which is, our customers are very consumer-driven. We don’t work with [inaudible 12:41], or we don’t work with brands that can have an emotional effect with customers and, therefore, it’s going to be fashion, cosmetic, food or if it leads to lifestyle. We would also have to be a product specialist.

We don’t want only to do kids wear or fashion or shoes. We believe that we can gain best practice from working with different industry and the big chance that we have by having been internally doing this for the last 7 years is we really have a combination of first-mover advantage combined with very interesting portfolio which means that you want the biggest tea, if you are a tea brand. We have been working with some of the biggest Chinese tea brands in China; you want lingerie, we have been working for the biggest lingerie brand in China; we work cosmetic where we work with the biggest cosmetic brand in China and so and so.

As one of the biggest one, better so on the niche, fast and growing, so we kind of combine the stress or question mark that the clients could have coming to us, so usually, thanks to all the dealers and rich portfolio we can show them very interesting case relevant to an industry, relevant to – so on the one side we don’t want to be product specialist, on the other side we have been working with so many different types of projects that actually we gain a very, very deep knowledge on the Chinese market on most different industries but also the different geography because we have clients – I mean from – in China to Chengdu and Zhengzhou and Shijiazhuang. I was in Changjo last week. We have been probably working with 15-20 different city, probably more than that – 30 different cities in China.

Matthieu David: Okay, for people listening to us, Changsha is capital of Hunan – it’s not just a small city but it’s not a city where many foreigners go, they may go to Shanghai or Beijing or Zhengzhou instead as they, very, very close to Beijing and it’s a very, very industrial city. When you talk about Chinese clients do you work with them on their branding in China, or there is always a perspective of being global, international, and it’s why they pick you because you are international?

Louis Houdart:  I think as of today, lots of Chinese brands challenge is within China. Of course we can see the Huawei, we can see the One Plus, we can see the One Plus, we can see Lenovo and couple of some of these big Chinese clients especially in the tech who was going overseas in the consumer world if you have a good brand in China is actually usually and of course for you as of today in China. So, most of the issues for Chinese clients today is within the Chinese market. It doesn’t mean they are not interested in the western market but China market usually if you are a good brand is offering you – is offering these brands and of course for today which of course will be different with some brand of Luxembourg or Belgium – which means that in China if we have 300 stores you can actually be a niche brand.

Matthieu David: You mentioned the brand Best Group?

Louis Houdart: Yes.

Matthieu David: Yeah. Could you tell us more about what you did for them more specifically? What was the process of creating the brands – two brands you mentioned as I understood and could you tell us what it has become and it’s the size of the company because I feel many people who are listening to us may not know those Chinese companies? You mentioned so many times they were very big companies that are not known in the west, most of them. So, if you could give us an idea of the size – you said 300 shops, this is more from the small brands in China, and it would be a sizeable volume in a country like France. So, could you tell us more about those types of clients how big they are and secondly what you did precisely?

Louis Houdart: Sure, sure. So Best Group is a big glasses industrial group. They have a couple of 100 shops, they have their own factories, and they worked closely with – so that’s their background. So, they are one of the biggest; they also have to actually remove the name; they also have a franchise of a big Chinese glasses brand called – they used Sophie Marceau as a testimonial. So they have a couple of hundred, probably 500 – 600 stores, so they came to us to diversify a little bit their offer, and they have a very clear brief which was we want to create two new brands, one new brand called Look Up.

So actually, came with the name, they had the name, and that was the starting point. For them we did a quick benchmark of what was happening in glass fashion and glasses worn and then we created the brand from scratch so it was creating the visual identity of the brand, the logo, the packaging, the icon of the brand, the shop design but the main branding page of the, which had been inside who looks like and that was really our key delivery to work to them and then we did the same thing for another brand of them called Attic. So here also they came with the name and from there, here again, we did the same output – so visual identity, logo, packaging design, retail shop-design, the landing page of the digital.

So, they had a 360 brand, and then they could apply, so for Look Up, if I recall, they opened around 40 shops I think already in a year and so and Atia could be 50 or 20 shops. And as a standard old shop and I think we have been having some corners or so in some place. And then for their existing brands, so we turned around some of the existing brands, so one of their historical brand is called Best, which is the name of the group which is more classic glasses brand and here we helped them to uplift the image of the brands so still keep the existing DNA but bringing some more modern and contemporary and happening for consumers elements, so we touched the logo, we created a new icon, we worked on the shop design, on different brand assets and we reached for Best. And we also did another brand for themselves which is called – the name, yeah, it’s, it would come back to it, we turned around another of their brand.

Matthieu David: Okay, okay. You were talking about brand DNA in China, a lot of people working in branding talk about the DNA of the company, of the brand story. But the fact is that when you co-corporate a brand with a company, they don’t have DNA and is it that important to take the history of a brand when actually yourself you can start from scratch and create a new one? I have the difficulty to understand how the DNA of a company, it is a brand when as a branding agency in China you need to turn around, you need to create a new brand, how important it is? My feeling was a lot of Chinese brands; usually they have very good DNA, they were manufacturers.

Louis Houdart: Exactly. I mean I think there is a big misunderstanding I mean as you say there is a big misunderstanding about what the brand is and what the retailer is. So, for instance, if I tell you, so to you, Matthieu what is Zara? Is Zara a brand?

Matthieu David: Yeah, it’s a brand, right?

Louis Houdart: Describe me precisely a Zara product.

Matthieu David: I am not a – maybe they need to target but.

Louis Houdart: Okay.

Matthieu David: Brand so that you may buy several pieces of clothes every year, you can buy different seasons.

Louis Houdart: Okay, so to me, you are describing their business model. Zara is not a brand to me; it’s a famous trademark. Zara is a retailer. They sell. They have beautiful offers, so their business method is to sell a great product at a very fair price of the latest trend very quickly to the customers, and this is what they offer.

So, they are pretty much more of a retailer, very, very well-done retailer, simply a chain machine rather than brand. Louis Vuitton, for instance, is not really a retailer. Louis Vuitton is a brand, so if I close my eyes and I think about Louis Vuitton, I will see their product, I will see their story of luxury traveling, I will see their last campaign talking about luxury traveling and I will see the previous campaign where we will talk about luxury traveling, and that’s who they are. They are a story; they are not actually a retailer; they are not actually selling the product. Zara is selling a good product; Louis Vuitton is not selling product; they are selling a dream. And so, this is for retailers versus a brand, with very strong DNA or in the case of Louis Vuitton heritage. And if you start from scratch, you can start from scratch on Zara which I think is going to be good luck because they are thought to have the same logistic and volume and it will be going to be hard to beat all Zara price and design.

However, where you could eventually beat Zara is by offering the soul different from Zara and, therefore, touching the customers – on when you do, for instance, you do cosmetic – let’s take again, you have a story of Rosita. It could be up here or in Korea. Pacific has been very good brands of the industry. I don’t think Mari Pacific was doing cosmetic 35 years ago in Jeju island industry.

However, when we did, we took the story of Jeju island and they package it in a beautiful story which is the story of industry and if you go to any industry store you will feel the story of Jeju Island, through the volcano and then we put in the store to the visual of Jeju island and so on. And this is what we do when we create brands. We bring a soul to the brand, a brand DNA in China when it doesn’t have to be necessarily a place. It could be something else, but to bring something that customers will feel special and can relate and attach to. And this is for; it’s the very difference between a retailer and a brand. This is I think a very big misunderstanding but many people working in marketing in China or branding on different industries actually has a very different understanding of what really a brand is. The brand is not just a name. For instance, Apple is a beautiful brand because if I close my eyes, I can really see the old grand world of Apple; Acer is not a beautiful brand. I mean Acer is a famous name but if I close my eyes and I try to think what an Acer product looks like; no fucking idiot would be able to – I challenge you to describe to me an Acer product if you don’t have an Acer computer in front of you. This is where we are relevant.

Matthieu David: Okay, okay, I got it. And so let’s say more about inspiration by the way – inspiration and having an identity which is appealing to images, to the imagination. Am I correct?

Louis Houdart: Yeah, correct.                                                          

Matthieu David: Okay, okay. So, talking about Chinese OEM building brands, what are the major difficulties you find out? Do you also have to, for instance, to have them to differentiate their products because when they begin to build a brand, I believe they are going to use similar products for all their brands? Do you have to advise them on this? What are the challenges?

Louis Houdart: I think it’s a very good question and here we have a little bit of, or we do help them a little bit, but we go less deep. When it comes to product and of course depends on category let’s take, for instance, the example of fashion. In fashion, if you are more in the basic product it’s much more, but putting the elements together like let’s take the example of my white shirt or your white shirt, what brands are these white shirts? They could be. Actually, they could be Gio. What will make the difference is where you put it, where you sell it, on who wears it, in a way, on how you put them together in a store together. So, when you put a product that does go well altogether, of course, there is an issue. But when there is a certain harmony within the products, then you start to work. So this is where we will bring a friendly eye to our customer making sure of course that only our products, the look and feel of the products align with the brand DNA in China that we are working on, and we don’t have too much of a patchwork when the store open and on the here again I think it’s more a question about consistency and having products which integrate well with the brand rather than having completely a breakthrough product. I mean in the fashion world, most of the product that people buy is actually fairly basic.

Matthieu David: So, you are saying that basically, they could sell the same products but the environment, the way they talk about, the way they could sell,etc. making the difference?

Louis Houdart: I am not saying that the product would be exactly the same. Sometimes they are not that different, and yes, of course, their retail in China, the retail environment makes a very big difference.

Matthieu David: I’d like to go back to the beginning of Creative Capital. I remember you had previous experience as an entrepreneur in China. I was looking at your LinkedIn at the same time to make sure – it is, it is on your LinkedIn, yeah. You founded the Secret Garden, and I like to understand how you come up with Creative Capital? You are the only founder, right?

Louis Houdart: Well, I was an original founder – I had some colleagues who’ve been with me since the beginning and, therefore, also co-founders, so Tanguy Laurent in New York, Olivier Muru, a couple of the of non-status, they are co-founder, so we really do the business together.

Matthieu David: Okay. But you are the original, right? You were the first, and then people joined you, right?

Louis Houdart: Yes, I was the first one. Yes. Tanguy, we joined at the same time but yeah pretty much, yeah.

Matthieu David: Okay, okay. Talking about the beginning of Creative Capital, what made you create Creative Capital? Is it because of your first experience as an entrepreneur in China, Secret Garden?

Louis Houdart: I think it’s very linked for my reason, I mean it’s also probably helping us to do things slightly different and to shape things differently. So, we – Secret Garden was a retail experience on which we managed to do 10 years ago to build and develop a smooth, independent retail chain of a flower shop, was quite hard and quite new back at the time and after Secret Garden, some previous friends and clients from Secret Garden came to me. One actually, in particular, came to us and asked us to reproduce what we – Secret Garden to create a very strong brand with a strong concept which we did for her and very quickly she raised quite a lot of money and opened many many stores. It was really at a very powerful snowball effect for us.

So, I think that was the first factor; the second one is having been in the retail in China myself before starting Creative Capital gave us a different way of looking at things. So, for instance, Egyptian marble might be very beautiful but it’s going to be may be very expensive to put in place and, therefore, we don’t only have an aesthetic look at things when we do design work, so they are very much into [inaudible 30:56] and because of the difficulties to put things together and some of them immense like which are much more in particular retail of things, so we are the cashier and in the end we need the shop. However, you should put it behind the shop where you have a smaller different room, which makes the shop looks nicer. We would go there and do some meetings or have a retail fiesta instead of being on the floor and selling products.

So, I think it gave us a very good understanding of what we retail is and how to operate retail in China and to have reactions of retail operators and not only like branding and design guys. And, therefore, we combine both brandings in China, and we have done it for ourselves successfully, and we also have run and operated stores with very, very huge space designers with our branding agency in China, so we have been on both sides and lots of our colleagues also, so got a – my partner John Vito has a retail background. He used to be in Zanya – so lots of our colleagues actually have a brand and retail background because we think it brings a lot of value in what we do.

Matthieu David: You founded Secret Garden, so for [inaudible 32:17] and it was for 3 years. In that how was some experience, I was managing a gift box business like 8 years ago, and it gave me a lot of creditability when I got my first clients.

Louis Houdart: Exactly.

Matthieu David: So, I can do the same.

Louis Houdart: Exactly, yeah.

brand DNA China podcast

Matthieu David: Yeah, yeah. Okay. So, you talked about the switch – how you, from your first experience, you were able to start Creative Capital but then how did you get those Chinese clients? I mean if you are…

Louis Houdart: So, coming back, so the first clients who came to us with this idea of creating fashion brand was a Chinese friend and we created, we have the successful brand from scratch and because this brand was quite successful back in the time. It created a snowball effect, she presented some of the friends, and some people came to us because we are so, so we were really lucky to do this at a time where there were really a lot of new branding creators. So that’s why I have mentioned earlier on, the first mover advantage has the right case and at that time when this was definitely was very helpful. I think today it would be very difficult to – if you would have started this yesterday it would be very hard, so the fact that we started this 7 years ago was I think lots of luck but was an issue to capture and transform. From [inaudible 33:51] speakers to Chinese has been very helpful, so it’s a combination of retail in China plus speaking Chinese plus having been successful with some of the first scale that we did with Chinese partners and friends, and that’s it.

Matthieu David: Do you pitch yourself in Chinese?

Louis Houdart: I mean, of course we do a presentation in Chinese all the time.

Matthieu David: Okay, okay. Talking about the expansion – so we talked about the start; talking about the expansion with new offices you opened. I don’t know the order, but I think Shenzhen may have been second, New York, Jakarta. From my own experience and the experience of even sizeable companies, even big companies, there is a huge cost at opening an office. It’s rarely profitable over a few years, even more, especially service stations, because this is not easy actually. Indonesia is a big market, so it’s not easy. So, what’s your perspective in opening offices in all the cities where you are not living, where you are not 24 hours, and what have been the barriers and difficulties?

Louis Houdart: Well, but for – we’ve been doing well in Indonesia on the markets where we open. I have been over there speaking with the right people and then the right partners where we’ve signed, we had the right partners and the right people, and we find the best mechanism to have them align with us. All our colleagues who have been in the overseas office spend a lot of time in Shanghai before you are going to one of these markets. And it was a combination of picking the market where we had the right resource, right people where we also believe that the offer would be relevant and Indonesia, for instance, made a lot of sense for us, I mean we are a Chinese agency. Indonesia is a big market. There is a lot of Chinese Indonesian very successful in Indonesia and of course when we do successful companies and referrals, where we might get used to managing the group to Singapore or Europe over here, actually looks at what’s happening in China. So, we have lots of the projects that we are doing in China where we are very relevant, and a lot of the connection that we had in China, in Greater China and Shanghai or Hongkong were also very relevant to our Jakarta office. So, we could have been a lot of key and contacts from China, and that’s it. And I think this is how Jakarta has been growing because the overflow is really relevant to the local market and we have the right.

Matthieu David: You have any Indonesian company for the market or its?

Louis Houdart: Of course. No, no, no, no, how many Indonesian brands can you name?

Matthieu David: Good question.

Louis Houdart: So, but how many Indonesian brands – so Indonesia is an amazing country. We have actually great companies, very smart entrepreneur, beautiful products and somehow there is a deficit of powerful brands also, so what we do in Indonesia is, therefore, very relevant, so we help the great Indonesian companies to uplift their offer. So, therefore, like in China most of – actually the most project that we do in Indonesia are related to Indonesian brands even starting brands for them or turning their own brand or trainer expertise is, therefore, very relevant to them.

Matthieu David: Okay. I think things went easy for you to like starting your business. I think a few things went easy for you as an entrepreneur in China – starting the business, opening offices, and so on. Don’t you feel, could you – is it real?

Louis Houdart: Well, I don’t know if it’s been easy, things been quite fun, very exciting, so much work. I mean today is Monday at 8:00 o’clock. I am in the office. I spend most of the time working. I mean it’s mostly work and dedication and lots of fun also. And working with trainees and Asian clients, the boundary between friendship and work is quite limited, so I spend most of my evening and weekend spending time with friends and often clients. So, it’s like, I don’t know if it’s been easy, but it’s been for sure lots of work.

Matthieu David: You talked about referral and people talking about you which was to new clients and so on. Were you building this intentionally or it was, it just came this way? Did you have a process to get more connections, to get more introduction?

Louis Houdart: No, no, no, no. Let’s come back to friendship and friendly way. I mean so we’ve got – China is an ecosystem so if you are a big fashion player in Zhangzhou, most likely you will be a distributor and most likely you will distribute I don’t know 20 to 30 brands, and maybe you will have 500 shops and as a franchise and maybe you also own a small brand. So, if we are a friend of this distributor in Zhangzhou – his interest in us, if one of the brands that he distributed, he is not performing well, his best interest actually to introduce him to the owner of this brand and that’s actually a very virtuous things for him and the owner of his brand and if projects and everything goes smoothly. That’s really how it will be working on us on the other side if we see an interesting brand and that we could distribute also eager to get from our introduction and, therefore if this introduction has been very friendly and based on mutual trust over years and years of working. So, it’s been – we don’t know on a friendly basis actually.

Matthieu David: Sizeable company doing up your marketing in China and not doing retail in China and presenting in [inaudible 40”49], so in Shanghai, in China, Beijing could you tell us more about what was the logic behind it?

Louis Houdart: Of course. So, I mean in a way it ended up being a no brainer for us, a no brainer for many reasons. First – people, amazing synergies of people at the management level, at the skills level, so it was first which I think something which was very very important for us, so very complimentary in terms of skills, and second amazing complimentary team term of the offer. We are very concept driven, and we have a lot of local brands on the concept. Altavia is a beautiful platform that can help on all the marketing activation for the brands that we work with, so, therefore, makes a lot of sense with them of synergies, of capabilities and offers, and third, it made also a beautiful complimentary team in term of geography. So, we are in Hongkong and Shanghai and Jakarta and Altavia; it’s very present in many of the Chinese cities where we don’t have an office, we are present in Japan and Korea where we have clients. But no office – Altavia don’t have an office in Indonesia where we have an office, also very, very complimentary in terms of geography. So, it was really a no-brainer on I think since we team up, we can see how powerful we are.

Matthieu David: Okay, okay. So, what are the next steps for your branding agency in China?

Louis Houdart: What are the next steps? Well, the next step is to continue to grow, of course in China and to develop a business in Asia.

Matthieu David: Okay, I see you have a very, very busy schedule today.  Thank you very much, Louis, for your participation in this new episode of our China vlog, China Paradigm. Anything you like to add to correct, anything you like to say to us?

Louis Houdart: No, no, I think it was great chatting with you. Thanks for your time and for bringing me to China Paradigm and keep in touch.


China paradigm is a China business podcast sponsored by Daxue Consulting where we interview successful entrepreneurs about their businesses in China. You can access all available episodes from the China paradigm Youtube page.

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