Samsung's brand-handling offers lesson for creating differences relevent to clients needs
Thai brands should learn from successful global brands such as Samsung, which is ranked No 8 on Interbrand's list of this year's top 100 brands, says the managing director of the US-based consultancy's Singapore unit.
"We've been running the global brand ranking for the past 14 years," Julian Barrans said. "It's the first time, this year, that Coca-Cola has been pushed off the top [dropping to No 3], while Apple has continued its surge and is now No 1. Close behind is Google [No 3].
"Apple has become the world's biggest-capitalised company, but what we measure is the value that comes from the brand.
Sometimes it takes longer to build the brand than actual sales. itself. For Apple, it's not surprising, as we expect it to be No 1. Only when, not if.
"Many Asean brands are still too small for our global ranking. To be a global brand, at least 30 per cent of total sales must be outside the home market and spread in three continents. Most Asean brands focus on domestic markets.
"For Asian brands, Japanese brands were the first to break into the top-100 ranking, followed by Korean brands. Samsung is now No 8, while Toyota is No 10. Sony, Panasonic or HTC are on the top-100 list. "The combined value of the top 100 global brands is [US]$1.5 trillion [nearly Bt47 trillion]. To be successful global brands, you need to really understand the customers, their needs and wants and move along the time to keep satisfying them.
"Samsung is a great example, using a reliable metric to measure their development and success. Our brand-valuation approach used by Samsung allows you to get not only the numbers, but also benefit from the evaluation of the 10 brand strength factors - four internal and six external factors.
"We track these factors every year so we can determine [make determinations] against their target audiences in the specific segments of business. They can understand how they are performing in terms of beating their competition.
"In the beginning, it was how to beat Sony four years ago. Later, it's how could Samsung innovate more. Meantime, one of the 10 brand-strength factors is brand clarity. This means the brand must also be well understood inside and outside the organisation. It's important that such a brand culture exists.
"Externally, it's how you differentiate the brand from the competition in more relevant ways to be better than your competitors to better meet the needs and wants of your customers.
"In the case of Samsung, after you [have] differentiated your brand, you need to make sure that you reach your target audiences through all the most relevant touch points. In the post-digital age, the rules are all rewritten. Samsung cleverly engaged the social media and uses several techniques to highlight its brand.
"For example, when Apple launched the iPhone 5 last year, Samsung attacked Apple in the social media like in a guerrilla warfare," Barrans said.
In terms of Samsung's differences from Apple, he said, "I think it's about a viable alternative to Apple's ecosystem, which is very much closed simplicity, while Samsung allows a more flexible and open platform."
Sirikul Laukaikul, chief executive of BrandBeing Consultant Co, said: "Brand equity is measured by both financial and non-financial yardsticks, including sales, brand loyalty, recognition and other intangibles, which have to be transformed into financial aspects.
"Brand culture is very important. It's not enough to do just the marketing, which is external, since we also have to pay attention to the internal factors, such as our organisation's brand culture. Otherwise, we wouldn't have enough power to drive the brand to be successful.
"In Thailand, a key aspect of SCG's brand culture is innovation, so we need to transform SCG [Siam Cement Group] people into the innovative type. Human resources departments are very important in developing the people's competencies and in measuring their progress."
On Samsung's differentiation strategy, Sirikul said: "The product differences as mentioned have to be relevant in terms of customer needs and wants. In my opinion, many consumers also like Samsung smartphones because they have bigger screens and font sizes, which suit the need of not-so-young people. In short, they're easier to use for many people."