Hongbaos as a branding tool: Firms pull out the stops

Hongbaos as a branding tool: Firms pull out the stops
Some companies stick to tradition in their choice of colour and motifs; others come away from the usual red-and-gold.
PHOTO: The Business Times

IN this run-up to the Chinese New Year, companies have begun handing out their corporate red packets or hongbaos, usually along with goodwill gifts of seasonal foods or hampers.

These red envelopes, into which people put money to give away to family and friends, have become a tool for corporate branding, so businesses leave nothing to chance in their design.

UOB's line of hongbaos for this Year of the Rooster come in the auspicious colours of red, plum and gold, and bear a calligraphic brush stroke representing a stroke of good luck. Each hongbao also has an abstract rendition of a rooster, and measures 168mm by 88mm, in a nod to the belief among Chinese that "8" is the luckiest number.

No roosters feature in OCBC's hongbaos, which come in neon pink and deep purple or red and gold. The design is instead inspired by traditional Chinese windows.

Ms Koh Ching Ching, head of group corporate communications, noting that unused hongbaos are often thrown away after the 15 days of festivities, said: "To do our small part for the environment, we wanted our red packets to be relevant throughout the year. The generic window design enables us to meet that objective."

This year, DBS's hongbaos are decorated with peonies or paper fans and come in warm reds and pinks.

As the bank is marking the 10th anniversary of its mascots Xing and Jaan's appearance on its hongbaos, the bank has unveiled digital stickers of the girl and boy mascots, which customers can send to friends and relatives via WhatsApp. A bank spokeswoman said: "This is in line with customers' increasingly digital lifestyles."

Companies in other sectors have also put their own corporate spin on this yearly tradition.

Read also: 17 best-looking hongbaos of 2017 and how to get your hands on them

Since 2011, Singtel's hongbaos have each featured a Chinese character which is part of the Singtel-created couplet for that year.

This year, all the characters used since 2011 form the first half of an auspicious couplet which translates to "A prosperous country and a harmonious family brings forth happiness, wealth and togetherness."

In contrast, Frasers Hospitality has gone for a contemporary design, using subtle shades of red, orange, purple and green in a move away from the traditional colour palette.

Each hongbao is velvet-laminated, and features calligraphy commissioned by the hospitality group, retaining a touch of tradition to the modern twist. Jastina Balen, spokeswoman for Frasers Hospitality, said: ""There are a few guests who ask us for the red packets as they have started to collect them."

She added that Frasers starts working on its hongbao design as early as September the year before.

This article was first published on Jan 21, 2017.
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