Traditional Chinese Vs Simplified Chinese: What’s The Difference?

Traditional Chinese Vs Simplified Chinese: What’s The Difference?

This is one of the most common questions that clients ask us at IDENTITY Communications. We’ve put together a quick guide.

China is already a major driver of world economic growth. Domestically, it’s important too. Around 650,000 people in Australia speak a Chinese language and Mandarin is now Australia’s most spoken language other than English (2011 Census), over 1m Chinese tourists visit Australia each year and China is our top source of international students.

Chinese lanterns

IDENTITY is a leading multicultural agency in Australia. Just about every campaign we do from NSW Government through to commercial clients like Toys”R”Us, Johnson & Johnson, Meat & Lifestock Australia (MLA) include Chinese as a target community. And yes, we get asked these questions a lot:

  • What’s the difference between Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese?
  • What’s the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese?
  • When do we use what?

The year of the Rooster falls on Saturday 28 January, 2017. With the Lunar New Year almost upon us, we thought it’s timely for a post that answers these common questions.

What’s the difference between Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese?

It’s the writing system. 

Traditional Chinese writing characters date back 2,200 years ago to the Han Dynasty.

During the 1950s the government in China implemented the First Chinese Character Simplification Scheme, with reduced number of strokes in many characters – this is what is now more commonly referred to as Simplified Chinese.

Key difference between Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese:

  • Simplified Chinese has less stokes, for example the Traditional Chinese character for million 萬, in Simplified Chinese is written as 万.
  • Because the characters are simplified, one Simplified character could have the meaning of several Traditional characters (polysemy) for example the Simplified character of 复 could subtitle a range of Traditional characters including 複, 復 and 覆. Context is given when they are read in conjunction with other characters.

However, not all characters have been simplified so readers may understand parts of a sentence, however, there is always a risk of misunderstanding.

Q: What’s the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese?

It’s spoken Chinese.

They refer to the two most spoken form of Chinese (there are in fact another 20 spoken dialects in China). Cantonese has nine tones while Mandarin only has four, which leads some to argue it’s easier for a Cantonese speaker to learn Mandarin. Cantonese is more commonly spoken in southern China, Hong Kong and the more established Chinese diaspora.

Cantonese speakers and Mandarin speakers would have a hard time understanding each other given the huge difference in tones. That’s why when producing communication involving the spoken language, you should cater for the relevant language preference.

Q: So Mandarin speakers use Simplified Chinese and Cantonese speakers use Traditional Chinese?

Wrong.

That’s a major misconception. Those from Southern China use Cantonese but write Simplified. Those from Taiwan speak Mandarin but write in Traditional Chinese. The only thing you can be sure of is that people from China use Simplified Chinese characters.

In Australia, Chinese language media are a mix of all of these, depending on their audience. So your communications material should match the language used. The Australian Chinese Daily uses Traditional Chinese characters, so your advertising should match that. Radio 2AC broadcasts in Mandarin. The majority of Australia’s local online publishers use Simplified Chinese.

As a general rule, when it comes to ethnic media in Australia, Chinese print media are mostly in Traditional characters, for online it’s Simplified and for radio it’s an even 50/50.

Q: Traditional, Simplified, Cantonese and Mandarin – when should we use what?

Chinese temple

Here’s a list of spoken and written Chinese for key Asian countries with a large Chinese population.

  • China: Simplified / Mandarin
  • Hong Kong: Traditional / Cantonese
  • Macau: Traditional / Cantonese
  • Taiwan: Traditional / Mandarin
  • Singapore: Simplified / Mandarin
  • Malaysia: Traditional / Mandarin

Did you find this guide useful? Please share with your network.

For more resources on how to target Australia’s diverse communities, visit IDENTITY.

MLA CAMPAIGN WINS AT 2016 AMMAS – B&T Magazine Media Coverage

MLA CAMPAIGN WINS AT 2016 AMMAS – B&T Magazine Media Coverage

B&T Magazine, 7 December 2016

The winners of the 2016 Australian Multicultural Marketing Awards (AMMAs) were revealed at the Sydney Opera House last night, with the latest lamb campaign by Meat & Livestock Australia and independent agency The Monkeys receiving a double dose of recognition with two gongs.

The ‘Bringing EVERYONE together over lamb’ campaign, which also had contributions from UM, One Green Bean and Identity, won the Communications category as well as the People’s Choice Award.

SBS Radio and Access Community Services were the other big winners on the night, both receiving two awards.

SBS Radio took out the Communities category for its SBS Arabic24 station and the Youth category for its National Languages Competition, while Access Community Services won the Business Diversity award for its ‘#OurStories campaign’ and the Arts and Culture award for its Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre.

Telstra denied Access Community Services a third award win with its ‘A place to belong’ indigenous recruitment campaign in the Big Business category, while Why Documentaries won the Small Business award for its film From Foe to Friends.

Western Sydney University’s popular ‘Unlimited’ campaign featuring Sudanese refugee Deng Adut claimed the Education category, while Cricket Australia won the Sport category.

The Public Sector award went to the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service and the NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service for their multi-platform campaign which aimed to raise awareness of organ tissue donation among the state’s different cultures.

NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, John Ajaka, said the outstanding quality of this year’s winners is a testament to all the creativity and imagination of marketing and advertising professionals who are breaking barriers and promoting diversity on screens and across society.

“The large spike in nominations this year is a testament to marketers increasingly exploring the Australian identity in new and innovative ways,” he said.

“I congratulate all the winners and finalists for their vision, passion and commitment to their field.”

IDENTITY is a specialist multicultural marketing agency that is part of IPG Mediabrands.

IDENTITY Scores Two Awards At The 2016 AMMAS: Mumbrella Media Coverage

IDENTITY Scores Two Awards At The 2016 AMMAS: Mumbrella Media Coverage

Meat & Livestock Australia’s diversity work wins at Multicultural Marketing Awards

By Simon Canning,
Mumbrella, 7 December 2016

Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) controversial spring lamb ad which called on Australians to come together over lamb has won the People’s Choice award at the 2016 Multicultural Marketing Awards.

The ad, by The Monkeys, opened with the statement that too many “perky white males” were contributing to a lack of diversity on TV screens.

It went on to feature people from diverse backgrounds, including Indigenous Australians, Indians, Greeks and people from the LGBTQI communities.

The ad was the focus of a series of complaints by viewers, some of which claimed it was ‘racist against white people’. All complaints were subsequently dismissed.

MLA’s campaign also won the Communications award.

During the awards presentation, SBS presenter and Logie Award nominee, Lee Lin Chin, declared she was “Australia’s best Asian” in a tongue-in-cheek video promoting SBS’s new cultural training courses.

Other winners on the night included Telstra, Cricket Australia and Western Sydney University for its ‘Unlimited’ campaign.

NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, John Ajaka said the awards were a celebration of marketing that embraced all communities.

“The outstanding quality of this year’s winners is a testament to all the creativity and imagination of marketing and advertising professionals who are breaking barriers and promoting diversity on our screens and across society,” Ajaka said.

The full list of winners:

  • Communications – Meat & Livestock Australia, The Monkeys, UM, One Green Bean and Identity, ‘Bringing EVERYONE Together Over Lamb’
  • Public Sector – NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service and NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service, ‘Life Giving Stories: ‘Storytellers on the Ultimate Gift of Life’ Multiplatform Strategy Organ Tissue Donation Multicultural Campaign
  • Big Business – Telstra, ‘A place to belong/Indigenous Recruitment Campaign’
  • Small Business – Why Documentaries, ‘From Foe to Friends’
  • Business Diversity – Access Community Services, ‘#OurStories Campaign’
  • Arts and Culture – Access Community Services for the Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre
  • Sport – Cricket Australia, ‘A Sport for All – Cricket Campaigns’
  • Communities – SBS Radio, ‘SBS Arabic24’
  • Education – Western Sydney University, ‘Unlimited Campaign’
  • Youth – SBS Radio, ‘National Languages Competition’
  • Peoples’ Choice Award – Meat & Livestock Australia, The Monkeys, UM, One Green Bean and Identity, ‘Bringing Everyone Together Over Lamb’


IDENTITY is a specialist multicultural marketing agency that is part of IPG Mediabrands.

Should SBS Relocate To Parramatta?

Should SBS Relocate To Parramatta?

“SBS should move to Parramatta. That should be their head office. They could clearly differentiate the organisation and go to the – as we know – absolute centre of Sydney, which is the centre of all sorts of ethnic groups.”

With this statement, the chairman of FreeTV, Russel Howcroft, set the cat upon the pigeons. Howcroft, also GM of Network Ten and panellist on ABC’s ‘Gruen Transfer’, was defending SBS from a merger with the ABC.

SBS responded, telling advertising industry publisher Mumbrella: “With employees across different cities, SBS tells stories from around the nation. The location of our headquarters is of no consequence. We’re focused on investing our resources in great programs, not moving offices.”

As a Western Sydney resident and former SBS employee, I would love to see SBS jump at the chance to move to where its constituents live, to showcase the diverse voices in the West.

The argument against the move included the usual: Parramatta is too far to travel. Really? You’d queue 30 minutes for a Messina gelato in Surry Hills but a 23-minute express train from Redfern to Parramatta is too far?

…if you want a workforce that reflects Australia’s diversity, Western Sydney is a recruiter’s paradise.

And then there’s the argument that a Western Sydney location makes it’s harder to recruit good staff. Bearded inner-city staff sporting tattoos and ironic long tees with dreams of directing an indie movie or at least produce a ‘This American Life’-style podcast, maybe. But if you want a workforce that reflects Australia’s diversity, Western Sydney is a recruiter’s paradise.

SBS Migrant MapTop three birthplaces for immigrants in Sydney and SBS’s Atarmon location. Source: SBS.

Western Sydney is one of the most diverse areas of Australia, with 38 per cent of the population speaking a language other than English at home, and up to 90 per cent in some suburbs according to the Centre for Western Sydney’s profile of the Greater Western Sydney region.

According to the study, 87.7 per cent of the residents in Cabramatta speak a language other than English at home – the highest anywhere in Australia. Other Western Sydney suburbs Bankstown and Canley Vale (my home) are also over 80 per cent.

Diversity is more than reflecting it from the North Shore or inner city.

Brexit and the Trump election clearly demonstrate that much of the media is living in one huge echo chamber. Their values don’t necessarily reflect Australia’s views. People are rejecting the establishment and will vote for change that reflects them and their values.

Western Sydney is home to 44 per cent of Sydney’s population.

Diversity extends to understanding the day-to-day experience of Greater Western Sydney residents. People like me who get up at 6am to catch a packed train and don’t get home until dark, and who still aspire to a green lawn while greenies in the inner city think it’s a drain on the environment. Others who brave Parramatta Road, the Great Western Highway, the M5 or M7. People who eat at modest Ma and Pa restaurants who have never heard of heirloom tomatoes and don’t get excited about foraged food.

But arguments against moving away from the city are not new.

Earlier this year, Sydney’s elites came out against the NSW Government’s relocation of the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Parramatta. They claim the move would ‘destroy’ the Powerhouse.

That’s insulting.

Other supporters of the status quo banded together to form the Powerhouse Museum Alliance. Collectively, they workshopped 10 Reasons to Save the Powerhouse Museum (presumably from the clutches of Western Sydney).

None of these reasons address why cultural institutions such as the Powerhouse Museum shouldn’t relocate to the West and be accessible to families and school children of the West. Isn’t Parramatta the geographic centre of Sydney anyway?

Sugar-coat the defence of keeping services inside the echo chamber all you like. The glaring truth is the media and advertising industry live in an inner-city bubble. And they want to keep it that way.

Outdoor company Adshel commissioned a survey of advertising agency staff which found “only 24 per cent of people have been to Parramatta while 62 per cent have been to North Bondi Italian”.

According to the survey:

  • 41 per cent of Sydney agency folk live in the city or inner city, compared to just 4 per cent of the public.
  • Another 25 per cent of agency staffers are in the eastern suburbs, compared to just 5 per cent of the general population.
  • Agency people travel 6.8km to work on average while the general public commutes 21.7km.

A survey of the wider media industry would show similar results, I reckon.

In the end, opposition to relocating services comes down to self-interest. The argument is the same whether it’s in Melbourne, Adelaide or Brisbane.

Now is the perfect timing for SBS to go west. Next month, Multicultural NSW is relocating from the CBD to Parramatta to join many other NSW Government agencies including NSW Police and Fair Trading NSW.

Out here, in the West, the struggle is real. And location is everything.

Thang Ngo served as a local councillor in Fairfield for nine years (1999-2008). He is managing director of IDENTITY Communications, a multicultural marketing agency that is part of the global IPG Mediabrands network. He also publishes the noodlies food, travel and lifestyle blog.

Originally published by SBS.

Photo credit, Gabriele Charotte, SMH.

Multicultural Festivals: How To Engage More Effectively

Multicultural Festivals: How To Engage More Effectively

A bit of common sense and strategic thinking will go a long way…

Multicultural marketers will have been here before. Their agencies recommend activations at cultural festivals to engage with potential customers.

The most common cultural festivals recommended by multicultural agencies are Lunar New Year, also called Chinese New Year or Tet for Vietnamese migrants. Other festivals most commonly put forward include Moon Festival and Diwali.

These are colourful events. The larger ones attract over 100,000 attendees. The City of Sydney is said to be the biggest Lunar New Year celebration in the Southern Hemisphere.

The recommendations are usually based on reach – lots of attendees gives means you’ll drive awareness and sales for your product/service. Banks, telcos in particular are regular fixtures at these festivals, with special offers, brochures, lucky envelopes and staff engaging with the crowd.

How to make your brand stand out?

In the ultra-competitive banking segment, I’ve help St.George to boldly break away from the crowd and grab 100% share of voice. Instead of sponsoring, say the Willoughby Chinese New Year Festival and fighting it out with the other banks on the day, we created our own Lunar New Year event.

St.George Australia’s Longest Lunar New Year Table set a national record. 66 lucky members of the Sydney Chinese community were treated to a VIP experience, joining the Willoughby Mayor for a 10 course feast by world renowned Chinese restaurant, Din Tai Fung.



This activation delivered 100% share of voice and a unique experience which created buzz and excitement. It positioned the challenger brand as an innovative and clever bank that could successfully engage the community at a bigger scale and greater depth.

How do we know if a festival is right for my brand?

Bigger festivals aren’t necessarily better. There are a range of other cultural festivals in Australia that may be more appropriate for your brand, creating a deeper connection and greater cut-through.

Canterbury Bankstown Children's Festival 2016

Recently Transport for NSW engaged IDENTITY to help communicate the potentially life saving message of seatbelt use and the correct use of child restraints. Newer migrants come to Australia with different experiences and rules around the use of child restraints and seatbelts. Additionally, the right child restraint changes with age, so it was important to bring this message to the community.

Canterbury Bankstown Children's Festival 2016

Instead of a typical Lunar New Year festival, we recommended the Canterbury-Bankstown Children’s Festival. In its 18th year, this is Australia’s largest multicultural children’s festival with over 10,000 attendees. Children and their safety would be top of mind for many festival attendees, providing less wastage.

With a life-sized displayed unit, a knowledgeable Transport for NSW demonstrator and translators, we were able to explain the importance of the use of seatbelts and child restraints. We backed this up with in-language brochures.

Canterbury Bankstown Childrens Festival

While the parents were getting a demonstration, we entertained their kids with seatbelt colouring in activity.

It worked too. The client said this was the most engaged child restraint activation across mainstream or multicultural. But the best measure of success is the client’s confirmation that they want to be involved again next year.

So multicultural festivals don’t have to be the ‘biggest’ and most obvious ones. Marketers and their multicultural marketing agencies should consider other events that may be a better fit for your brand.

Thang Ngo is managing director of IDENTITY Communications, the intelligent multicultural marketing agency.