A fascinating insight into Asian Brands and their branding challenge. The argument that often surfaces is why is it that the world’s region with the highest economic growth produces so few global brands. Make that internationally-recognizable, as some Asian brands are better known regionally.
There are of course brands like Sony, Honda, Toyota, Amanresorts, Nikon, Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Acer, Singapore Airlines, Din Tai Fung, SK II, Air Asia, Lenovo and Haier, just to name a few. And there’s plenty room for more Made-in-Asia Brands.
An excellent reference on the subject of Asian Branding is through Martin Roll, a Singapore-based Business and Brand Strategist. Listen to his short presentation. A mind-opener for Asian Brand Builders.
I share Martin’s view, although to a degree, one should also look at specific industries to see the brand strengths that’s coming out of Asia. It’s not only limited in consumer goods, food & beverage and hospitality & travel sectors. As anyone in the industrialized world who’s lost their job to outsourcing will tell you… you’d better watch out for InfoSys, Wipro and Tata.
And as anyone will tell you, building brands is a tedious, time-consuming and arduous process, requiring tenacity, consistence and innovation to ensure that the brand promise meets the brand value. All driven by the consumer, and what’s in their head. So it’s imperative brand-builders, advertisers, marketers and communicators understand the inside of a consumer’s mind and how they derive at buying decisions, and attach value to brands.
Asia’s journey in the modern economy is relatively new. Japan pioneered it all, as the first Asian country that pursued the industrial revolution, during the Meiji Restoration that saw it transform from an agrarian society to an industrial economy. By 1905 Japan had mustered the engineering prowess to wield a military attack on Russia. Both World Wars saw Japan strengthen its military engine, colonize parts of South Korea, China, and Southeast Asia. The devastating destruction of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought Japan to its knees and put an end not only to its mighty military but much of its economy. Misery of course followed, and while for most other people this would spell the end, Japan quietly exited the global stage, looked inward, and… as if a rising Phoenix, showed the world her indomitable spirit.
By 1964, Japan hosted the Summer Olympics, unveiled the world’s fastest train, the Shinksen, the bullet train, and showcased electronics and automotive brands that would change global trade.
The successful Japanese model was emulated by four Asian emerging economies; South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, who were collectively known as The Four Tigers. New brands came about, albeit at various degrees.
South Korea seemed to take the Japanese model to heart, giving the world new brands in automotive, electronics and mobile phone. Singapore Airlines was a surprising little firecracker from the tiny city-state, and some regional banks and telecommunications brands, while Hong Kong seemed to focus on financial brands, and hotels. Taiwan, which initially pursued manufacturing of electronics, IT, computers and semiconductors for others, eventually realized the importance of home-bred brands, and gave the world; Acer, HTC and Benq.
The multi-faceted Asia is of course home to 3 of the world’s largest countries, China, India, and Indonesia. And as their economies steam ahead, impacting the late-comer Indonesia and the rest of South East Asia, new brands are a given, in a myriad of industries, both the in the real and virtual world. It’s merely a question of “how soon?”… provided brand-building is done correctly. After all Lexus, Samsung, Singapore Airlines, and Mandarin Oriental were not built over night!
Therefore, I envision the day when we’ll see names like: Alila, Garuda, SM Malls, Huawei, Sosro, Garuda Foods, Chery, Mahindra, Bajaj, Raoul, Delifrance, Geely, Jet Airways, and many more. Including of course, brands that have not been born yet.