Building a brand image hasn’t been uppermost in the mind of most asian corporate leaders. Such companies are selling themselves short and losing out in the creating an international image.
Understandably, in a building of a great brand, strategy is quintessential. Sadly, many corporations in Asia are under the inaccurate notion that brand building is merely about spending huge sums on advertising and promotions. What they fail to realize is that a well-thought out, emotionally-driven strategy can hugely benefit a company’s bottom-line.
Says Paul Temporal, group managing director of Temporal Brand Consulting:
“In examining power brands around the world, a common feature is that they base themselves around the unique area of emotional appeal. However, if you merely compare your product to your company in a rational manner, it doesn’t work because a product’s features and attributes can be copied and systems, processes and technologies, imitated. The brand image is the only element that cannot be copied. So, it’s worthwhile having a strategy to decide what your brand stands for in the eyes of customers.”
Temporal Brand Consulting conducts consultancy work for companies and trains employees from rank and file, from the board of director to receptionist. Temporal has consulted for many top corporations around the world as well as government in Asia.
He argues that if more company develop an emotional association with customers, it takes away from a purely rational dimension, and people are willing to pay more if a company succeeds in building a relationship with them.
In his book entitled, “Asia’s Star Brands” Temporal cites that example of Hallmark, which has an emotional vision of enriching lives and lives it to the full. Some brands position themselves emotionally such as The Body Shop, which dedicates itself to environment and non-testing on animals.
As such, if a particular company constantly gives customers a positive experience, then it will be well-positioned to have a consistently good brand image. However, if the service or product quality is variable or inferior to competitors, then it is unlikely that company will ever develop a strong brand.
In a nutshell, basics such as quality, being innovative and up-to-date must be in place to develop a good brand and the icing on the cake is ultimately the emotional association consumers have with a particular brand.
Substantial research has been carried out on brands to identify which brands are popular among consumers through brand measuring, to determine if people trust a particular brand. However, it is important to make the distinction that branding isn’t just about awareness.
A strong brand is about garnering trust, loyalty and preference among consumers. A good brand may not be the world’s biggest selling one, but it can be major brand in terms of brand loyalty. One such example is Apple Computers.
Temporal elaborates: “Good brands are built on consistency of service, but you also need to innovate to be relevant to people’s changing lifestyles. In term of market fragmentation, Samsung is producing 100 mobile phone models this year to cater to different consumer needs. The company believes that more is better.
“But in reality, anyone can produce similar features and attributes, and given that everything else is the same, people will buy based on the brand they prefer, feel closer to and trust.
This is why Nokia has 38% market share in mobile phones and Samsung has 12%.”
In his view, Nokia is a fine example of a company that has created an emotional brand despite the fact that technology is generally viewed as cold and impersonal.
In his opinion, Asian brand are very rational and are driven by sales and other financial figures. They don’t invest in brands as much their western counterparts do, as they see branding as cost rather than investment.
While he reckons this perception is slowly changing, he feels that Asian companies still cannot come to terms with emotional branding that many Western brands have acquire. Chinese companies are also trying to do this, as they realize that the difference between a god company and great one lies in its branding.
It used to take 50 years to build a brand; Nike took three decades to build its brand but Nokia only spent 15 years doing so. So now, it is possible for companies in Asia and other regions to develop a brand in a much shorter space of time.
Asked to name some of Asia’s up and coming brands, temporal is hesitant to pinpoint which Asian brands will make it. He adds that some brands are headed in right direction such as Pensonic holdings Bhd, which is taking the right steps to create a good brand in future.
So far now at least, the brands he views as having potential aren’t concentrated on South-East Asia, but rather, future brands may come from South Korea, Taiwan and china.
Finally, he points out that it is important that aside from their brand image, Asian companies continuously build on their service quality, which lags that of other regions. Some exemplary company includes The Banyan Tree, which provides excellent service and has built its brand based on two core values namely romance and intimacy.