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Crossing the borders via effective brand development

Effective brand strategies that are aligned with business strategies can help companies in their drive to grow beyond their home markets and develop into stronger players, says the chief executive of Interbrand in Southeast Asia.

Julian Barrans, managing director of Interbrand Singapore, who is also responsible for the Asean region, said it was time for Thai companies to look beyond their home markets and, in doing so, developing their brands to become better known overseas should be an essential part of the move.

"If they set their brands right, companies can evolve," he said, citing the case of Samsung, which had evolved from being an imitator of Sony, but now stood among the top global brands.

Thai banks have a strong opportunity to grow their brands in Asean Economic Community markets, while Singha, Thai Airways and Cotto, which have already gained various levels of recognitions internationally, have the potential to become global brands, he added.

A survey conducted two months ago among Interbrand's staff at its 36 offices worldwide found Thai Airways, Singha and Chang to be the best-known Thai brands. Nevertheless, most respondents could not recall a Thai brand, said Barrans.

The survey also found perceptions that Thais are best at dining and catering, followed by the food and beverages, hospitality and health-related services sectors, but "not so good" at the education, financial services, pharmaceuticals, information technology and consumer electronics, entertainment and health-product sectors.

"So, if you are a tech company, it isn't a good idea to leverage your Thai origin," he said.

Barrans cited Dentiste' - an Interbrand client - which is a Thai company, but has never presented itself as a Thai brand.

CIMB Bank, meanwhile, was cited in terms of best practice, having cleverly positioned itself as an Asean bank.

Sophis Kasemsahasin, senior vice president and general manager of FleishmanHillard, said that with new communications and social media, managing a company's reputation had become just as important as managing the brand.

She said companies could use her company's "Authenticity Gap", which is a methodology to help them understand and proactively manage the gap between their customers' expectations and their actual experiences with the brand.


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