New Straits Times, 7 November 2001
Copyright New Straits Times Press, Ltd.
ALTHOUGH in theory the Internet is borderless and building regional Internet brands could easily be done, in reality this is not so. "We have diverse languages and cultures here in Asia, and each market is relatively small. So we are seeing the emergence of many individual Internet brands in the different Asian countries. There are only a few Internet brands that are doing well across the region," say Patty Keung, managing director of Real Media Ltd.
She comments that just like any development of brands, Internet brands have to be marketed the same. "Nowadays, the most successful marketers would use an integrated mix of online media, offline media, events, public relations, below-the-line items, and strategic alliances in order to build up their brands," Keung says.
For Dr Paul Temporal, successful branding is associated with trust, emotional association, branding, relationship and customer experience. "Asian companies need to pay attention on branding issues, such as building emotional associations," says Temporal, who is also the writer of a book titled Branding in Asia: The Management of Asian Brands for the Global Market. He explains that brands are very personal, and best brands around the world are not built around things but emotions, such as feelings of belonging. Providing positive experiences of the brands will lead to trust and loyalty.
He points out that more brands are being established through customer relationship, thus every customer touch points need to be looked into as each point has an impact on brands. For example, he says that companies that have good call centres should also ensure that their Website's response to customers is fast and efficient. "As technology becomes more ubiquitous, customers will crave the human touch, but many companies are not giving their customers the rich personal experience they want," says Temporal.
He points out the emotional brand relationship strategy involves awareness, brand awareness information, respect, friendship, trust, loyalty, togetherness/partnership and life-long relationship and friendship. Many brands did not develop to the trust and loyalty level, and are satisfied at providing information to customers, so they lose their customers easily. Such companies, says Temporal, are operating like a leaking bucket, they are striving to get new customers but at the same time neglecting the existing customers.
"It's common sense that we look after existing customers, but common sense is not very common sometimes," he concludes.