BEIJING (AdAgeChina.com) -- One of China's leading local sportswear marketers, Li Ning Co., revamped its brand this week--including a new logo and slogan--to better compete with rivals Nike and Adidas both within China and as the Chinese brand expands internationally.
Li Ning was founded twenty years ago by its namesake, a national hero who won three Gold medals at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
The company is well known at home and has even started expanding into foreign markets like the U.S. and Southeast Asia with new stores and sponsorship of western athletes.
Li Ning's products are competitively priced below western brands and it has developed a strong distribution system in the domestic market that accounts for most of its sales.
But the company has several problems it is trying to address with the new look.
To many foreign consumers, Li Ning's logo looks very similar to Nike's Swoosh. Claiming coincidence, the Chinese company says its logo was designed in a contest in 1990, and is meant to resemble the letter L as well as a patriotic red flag.
Another issue is Li Ning's slogan, "Anything is Possible." That's very similar to Adidas' tagline, "Impossible is Nothing." The Chinese company is often accused of copying Adidas on this as well, but Li Ning's tagline was created first.
New logo and slogan will help overseas expansion
Li Ning's revitalization strategy will, the company hopes, solve those issues. A new slogan, "Make the Change," was adapted from Li Ning's new brand manifesto, which encourages consumers to embrace change and make breakthroughs.
The new logo, meanwhile, includes a subtle outline of the "Li Ning Cross" gymnastic posture, while preserving some elements of the old logo, which loosely depict the founder's initials, L and N.
It also resembles the Chinese character "ren," which means people. The logo, says Li Ning, "conveys a tough, motion- and energy-rich silhouette."
Within China, Li Ning is competing with foreign sportswear brands like Nike, Adidas, Converse, Puma and Reebok for the same young target market that sets trends and seeks out hip, often Western, brands.
Li Ning and other local brands like Anta have struggled to appeal to Chinese trendsetters, particularly as western companies get better at penetrating third- and fourth-tier markets, a traditional stronghold for local players.
Li Ning's previous slogan and original logo will not disappear altogether, but the company hopes the new image will have more appeal to young consumers who "have global visions. They love innovations. They demand high product quality. They are giving new meaning to sports. To gain their recognition, we need to become more sensitive, more refreshed, more energetic and have stronger personalities," said Zhang Zhiyong, the company's group CEO in Beijing.
Beyond the public facelift, Li Ning is also upgrading its sports events planning, distribution, and product development and design.
Along with the new logo and slogan introduced this week in Beijing, the company launched an "Athletic Pro" line of high-end sports equipment for professional athletes, an "Urban Sports" range, an all-orange "Brand Heritage" collection, and a "Crossover" collection created through a collaboration byetween Chinese and foreign designers.
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