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  • Feb 27, 2014

BoardRoom

10 Steps to Build a Successful Asian Brand

As consumers become more sophisticated in their purchase choices, branding has become increasingly challenging to employ. Fortunately, the orientation of brand management has gone through substantial changes over the last decades, and has evolved as a more integrated and visible part of the overall corporate strategy.

The evolution of the brand equity concept during the 1990s, development of advanced brand valuation methods, and emergence of better brand tracking tools, have all facilitated the elevation of branding beyond middle management and into the boardroom.

The Asian Boardroom

Asian boardrooms generally lag behind this trend and tend to manage brand marketing from bottom-up instead of top-down. Many Asian business leaders still have strong reservations towards investing in intangible assets like brands, as opposed to their Western counterparts.

It is not uncommon that branding is referred to as marketing communication (advertising & promotion), and as a discipline managed by the lower-level marketing department in the corporate structure. These perceptions are the two core barriers for building more successful and international Asian brands.

Branding is a comprehensive process

Successful branding must encapsulate the entire company and its multiple and cross-functional actions and activities. When everyone in the organization serves the customers and creates customer value, then everyone is doing marketing regardless of function or department.

This comprehensive task of aligning and managing customer touch points cannot be left to the marketing departments alone. All customer touch points have to be aligned and optimized around the brand. This calls for a more cross-functional orientation of marketing in the Asian organization and dedicated boardroom attention to ensure it happens.

Hence branding is not a one-off session run by a separate marketing function, but a truly integrated part of the boardroom strategy along the lines of finance, operations, human resources and legal issues. This will require a major shift in how the Asian boardroom and corporate management team are structured and operated.

There are 10 crucial steps to follow:

1. The CEO needs to lead the brand strategy work
2. Build your own model as not every model suits all
3. Involve your stakeholders (including the customers)
4. Advance the corporate vision
5. Exploit new technology
6. Empower people to become brand ambassadors
7. Create the right delivery system
8. Communicate!
9. Measure the brand performance
10. Adjust relentlessly and be ready to raise your own bar all the time

These steps enable the Asian boardroom to focus its attention on the required areas, and serve as check-points which can be tailored to the individual company’s specific needs and requirements.

“A Great Way to Fly”

Singapore Airlines is a brilliant example of a dedicated, professional brand strategy throughout a diversified, global organization. The Singapore Airlines brand has been instrumental for the airline from the early start. It serves as one of the leading brand cases from Asia, and is unique in the sense that the boardroom and corporate management take dedicated leadership of the brand strategy.

Take the examples of companies like Sony, Starbucks, Microsoft, Apple, Giorgio Armani, L’Oreal and Nike. They are all strong and highly aspirational brands where the boardroom and corporate management play a major role in all activities related to building and managing of their brands, being involved from high-level brand strategy decisions to monitoring the representation of the brand in local markets.

Conclusion

A strong brand is characterized by a unique brand promise (the customer focus) and an outstanding brand delivery (the organizational system and performance behind the promise). The brand promise and the brand delivery must be rightly and consistently balanced to achieve branding excellence.

For Asian companies to become more successful, branding can no longer be delegated to the mid-level marketing function. Instead, Asian boardrooms and the CEO must take charge of the brand strategy, lead the brand development, manage its implementation and be fully involved in performance tracking and benchmarking. Only then can branding become a relevant and trusted strategic discipline in the Asian boardroom.

 

Martin Roll
Martin Roll - Guest Contributor

A world-renowned thought-leader and advisor focusing on building and managing successful businesses through iconic brands, Martin Roll helps global clients to enhance financial value and create sustainable competitive advantage. Martin Roll is a highly accomplished speaker, presenter, moderator, and business columnist. He teaches at leading global business schools and holds an MBA from INSEAD. Author of global bestseller Asian Brand Strategy, Martin is currently writing four new global management books. Follow him @martinroll.

 

Photo by: reynermedia

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