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"“Branding was an alien concept in old China,” says Stanley Kwong, managing director of China Business Programs at the School of Management of University of San Francisco. “China had been making products for companies like Wal-Mart and Apple, but has not developed many brands.” It’s been easier for China to make a product than build a brand, experts say. Popular Chinese cosmetic brand Herborist is labeled “Made in Shanghai,” for instance, and the box for Apple’s iPhone — although made in China — is labeled “Designed by Apple in California.”

But that’s changing. Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo’s slick marketing campaigns — with the slogan “For those who do” — are not unlike Nike’s “Just do it” campaigns: They’re aimed at building brand recognition rather than just plugging the features in various products, Kwong says. (Lenovo also got a head start when it bought IBM’s PC and Thinkpad brands in 2005, he says.) Other Chinese brands making progress in the U.S. include consumer electronics firm Haier, and Tsingtao Beer, which says it’s the No. 1 selling Chinese beer in the U.S.

But given China’s size and economic power, experts say it’s only a matter of time before the country begins exporting its culture and style as well. “Chinese entrepreneurs have no intention of merely copying the best,” Milton Pedraza, the president of Luxury Institute, a marketing firm. “The Chinese believe they can create brands that rival or exceed their Western counterparts.” In fact, shopping trends in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong are already finding their way into American malls, albeit in more subtle ways, from foot massage salons to “bubble” milk tea."

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