Simon Anholt comments on the Public Relations efforts of Malaysia

Simon Anholt, the originator of the term nation brand and for many years an authority on managing national identity was interviewed by BFM radio in Kuala Lumpur recently. You can hear the interview here.

The interview was also covered by the online media and you can read about it here.

My thoughts on this issue are as follows

No disrespect Datuk Seri, but Malaysia and her future is much bigger and more important than Datuk Seri Najib Razak, UMNO and BN. Indeed, I am sure Datuk Seri Najib would be the first to agree with me.

Politically, the facts are that citizens of Malaysia voted for the government and gave that government a mandate to rule and represent the people. If about 35% of the population didn’t vote for a party within the government coalition and voted instead for another party (assuming they did vote – if they didn’t they should keep quiet) they have to accept that their party lost, and get on with working to build a global nation for their children and grand children.

Recently, the Malaysian government, elected by the people to manage the country on behalf of the people, decided to use traditional media, as part of what I hope is an integrated, multi pronged country brand communications strategy to help improve the image of the country.

It is unlikely this is an isolated tactic but part of multiple, integrated initiatives that are planned and coordinated by a plan that measures and leverages results.

If the government decides to work with a company that appears to have impecable credentials (and FCB media have them in spades) but appears to mislead the government then that government must dispense with such companies and its services, which is exactly what the Malaysian government has done with FCB media.

It is an unfortunate event but I sincerely believe that the government is not to blame for the debacle.

What perhaps should be questioned is not that the goverment tried to improve the image of the country – how can that be a bad thing and show me a country that doesn’t want to improve its image – but what were the justifications for using FCB media, what were the channels used and are they as effective today as they were say 25 years ago, what was the scope of work, what did FCB promise, was it necessary to pay such large sums of money to FCB, what did FCB use that money for and what metrics were used to calculate ROI?

On the face of it the amount spent appears to be excessive but without a breakdown of the expenditure we can’t be sure. And although it is not justification for spending so much money, show me a country that doesn’t waste taxpayer’s money? Only today, the UK has announced it wasted £11.5 BILLION on a National Health Service project that has been abandoned despite the huge sums spent.

Personally, I’m surprised that Simon Anholt has chosen to make such damning comments about one tactic that is, I assume part of a larger more integrated and holistic Malaysia country brand strategy.

I’m also surprised at his suggestion that countries can only make themselves more relevant by ‘making themselves more useful’. And the way to do this is by tackling a list of predictable issues – climate change, women’s rights, terrorism and financial insecurity – currently being addressed by many countries already.

I also think it is a little naive to think that Malaysia isn’t playing its part in some or all of those issues already. In fact, one could argue Malaysia has successfully combatted terrorism for longer than many countries except perhaps Northern Ireland.

I’m also surprised that he cites becoming a ‘widely recognised and widely appreciated country’ as goals. These are rather wishy washy goals and probably irrelevant as it wouldn’t be difficult to identify millions of people worldwide who recognise Malaysia and the country is probably ‘widely appreciated’ by hundreds of millions of people already.

You can read my earlier post on how Malaysia should build a nation brand here

Branding is more than a communications exercise

The most common definition of a brand that I hear is: “A brand is a name, sign, symbol, slogan or anything that is used to identify and distinguish a specific good (product), service, or business” This comes from the respected American Marketing Association. The problem is that this definition belongs to an era of limited competition, limited choice and limited knowledge of consumers.

In the mass economy that no longer exists, it was relatively easy to build a brand and your brand could easily become the name, in your category, on everyone’s lips. And it got to this position by mass advertising via mass media. 50 years ago, a good ad on prime time TV was enough to get someone to write a brand name down and ask for it at the department store the next day.

Quite often, even if the product was unable to deliver value, consumers would still buy it, quite often because they didn’t have a choice or because they were less demanding, and willing to put up with poor quality. In some cases consumers believed they were wrong and the product was good so they continued to buy it.

Today consumers are far more knowledgeable and much more demanding. They have more choice and there is more competition, especially for consumers attention via mass marketing channels. Moreover, a lot of those products with their flashy names, creative symbols and signs have lied to consumers in their slogans and consumers have been let down. It is no longer enough to tell a consumer your product is the best. If they are let down they won’t buy it again.

Instead, they go elsewhere. Today, to build a brand requires a comprehensive investment in organisational excellence. Building a brand is no longer a creative exercise or a communications exercise to differentiate a product. And the key metric must be profitability.

At this stage, most articles give an example of Nike, Coke, Apple or a similar brand. But these companies are exceptions and I’ll explain that in another article. But this time I am going to use Apple as an example because they have adopted their brand better than most.

Apple is a brand but 15 years ago the name, logo, etc that differentiated the good/product was not helping the company gain market share in the computer business. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were thinking of changing the name.

But instead, what happened was a massive investment in operational excellence, R&D, purchasing, supply chain, distribution and strategic alliances in manufacturing, etc plus a complete overhaul of sales processes, customer service, a huge stroke of luck and later, an investment in clever creatives.

The result, the ability to match product attributes to give consumers economic, experiential and emotional value that has built a global brand. I would say that the ads didn’t build Apple, it was the investment in R&D, organisational excellence and a lot of luck.

Another example is PAN AM. PAN AM had a great name, nice logo and spent a lot of money on mass marketing. I’m sure we all remember the tagline “PanAm. We’re flying better than ever”. Where is PAN AM today? PAN AM doesn’t exist.

So the next time someone says a brand is “A brand is a name, sign, symbol, slogan or anything that is used to identify and distinguish a specific good (product), service, or business” Ask them how many products they buy because of the name.

Stop your product joining the 95% club

According to an Ernst & Young study, the failure rate of new U.S. consumer products is 95%. 95%! Imagine if Boeing or Airbus had a 5% success rate! Yet despite this appalling return, companies spend approximately US$1.5 trillion on marketing, and in particular advertising, annually!

A couple of years ago, (before the explosion of social media, Dominique Hanssens, a director at the Marketing Science Institute in the US and a professor at UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management, reported that the average advertising elasticity for established products is .01. He went on to say that if one of those brands increased its advertising expenditure by 100%, it would see a sales increase of only 1%.

He used as an example Anheuser-Busch. If the firm doubled the US$445 million that it was spending at the time on TV, print, radio, outdoor, and Internet advertising, it would enjoy a 1% increase in net revenues from the then base of US$5.7 billion. Put another way, Anheuser-Busch would spend a total of US$890 million to make US$57 million.

We have to accept that mass economy models that made global brands out of such products as Coke, Budweiser, Marlboro, Sony and others are no longer relevant. And if firms continue to invest in outdated tactics that no longer work, their products will join the 95% club.

If they are to survive, brands today must address current branding imperatives. Current branding imperatives include building and maintaining relationships with customers and partners, internal communication, education, understanding and adaptation of corporate goals throughout the organisations.

Clearly defined organisational processes that are developed with the customer in mind and not shareholders or the organisation. These processes must be developed for both customer facing and non-customer facing departments, not independently but in tandem.

Communications, including advertising are important, but not the traditional one size fits all mass market approach. Communications must understand the requirements of prospects and customers and communicate with them using content that resonates with them via channels that are relevant to them.

Branding imperatives also require effective use of technology and, most important of all, ongoing feedback, measurement and improvement. These establish the foundations for identifying prospects and acquiring and retaining (key to brand success) profitable customers.

If John McEnroe were to play tennis against Roger Federer today, using the racquets he played with back in the day, he might win a few points but he is going to lose the match. It is the same for companies who fail to adapt to the branding imperatives of today.

If consultants recommend you emulate models used by such brands as Coke, Pepsi, Sony and other mass economy brands that were built when tennis racquets were made of wood, show them the door. Likewise, enormous budgets, integrated, synergistic, holistic, innovative, design or creative driven, energetic, positioning campaigns will not establish a brand.

Companies, and governments must understand that there is no quick way to build a brand. It is this obsession and belief that there is a silver bullet and it is called advertising that keeps the 95% club growing.

Organisational excellence required to build global Asian brands

Not too long ago, the Michigan (U.S.) State Business School reported that every US$1 (RM3.36) invested in marketing earned US$5 (RM16.80). By contrast, for every US$1 (RM3.36) invested in operational excellence, returned revenue was US$60 (RM201.75).

Despite such data, the majority of Asian firms have been slow to grasp the importance of everyday operational excellence that requires a continuing commitment to quality service, as well as processes that are effective from the customer’s point of view and advanced supply chain skills.

Many Asian firms prefer to spend fortunes on tactics to acquire customers yet very little on the operational and other strategic requirements needed to keep them. Sales and marketing growth based on increased awareness are fine and important but they are activities to be embarked on only after the operational foundations are in place. This is because an acquisition only approach is generally unsustainable.

Therefore, once a customer is acquired, it is critical to develop relationships to retain them. Firms cannot simply ‘hope’ they will come back time and time again because, with so much competition, so many alternatives, if you are not communicating with them – and selling to them, someone else will.

Customers build brands
And because customers have the power to make or break our brands, Asian companies must learn to do business on their terms. At the same time, they must become focused on creating PROFITABLE customers (on average, 15% of customers are unprofitable), ensuring those customers become our brand ambassadors, and consistently increasing their share of wallet.

Coca-Cola, Marlboro, Pan-Am, Ford and so on, represent mass-economy brands. These Western brands were successful because they shrewdly used the tools of the mass economy. They positioned themselves by repeatedly advertising in the mass media of one, two or three TV stations, one or two newspapers and knew where consumers were most of the time as there were few leisure time activities to take them away from the home.

Global markets
They also used mass production to achieve economies of scale, and they used distribution to penetrate mass markets. Global markets were opening up, disposable income was increasing, competition was limited. Customer retention didn’t really matter. Markets were growing so fast, and the mass-economy tools were so powerful, that it is was fairly easy to acquire a new customer for everyone that was lost. They also had a large, essentially one segment, ready made affluent domestic market.

But today, the mass economy is dead. The mass economy was killed by the fragmentation of the media, new leisure time activities, the Internet, greater competition, globalization, immigration, increasing number of and power of retailers, marketing segmentation and other forces.

In its place, we now have the “Customer Economy.” Companies no longer have the exclusivity to make the rules and control information by “positioning” products or promoting “brand equity” through advertising and PR like they did in the mass economy. Moreover, where in the past, prospects were segmented by demographics and geography, now they are part of communities. In these circumstances, can advertising and PR be effective to build brands? As part of a comprehensive brand strategy, yes. On their own, no.

For example, in the 10 year period to 2006, the computer manufacturer Acer spent US$10 billion (RM33.6 billion) trying to build a global brand via advertising. The effort failed. Acer withdrew from the retail market and has only recently reentered it with a new strategy focusing on individual segments.

Sony mass market failure
In 2000 and 2001, Sony spent an incredible US$2.5 billion (RM8.4 billion) on advertising worldwide. The result? The first three months of 2003 saw stunning losses, a 25% slide in the company’s share price in just two days and layoffs of more than 20,000 workers worldwide.

Unperturbed, Sony again tried mass economy tactics in 2008, spending an astonishing US$4.9 billion (RM16.5 billion) to position its diverse range of products including televisions, Blu-Ray players, music players, Laptops, PlayStation games, movies from Sony Pictures and new music from Sony Music. The approach failed and Sony is now exploring a more specific product focused niche approach.

Asian companies
Asian companies obsess with using traditional marketing tools such as advertising and PR to acquire new customers. But what good does it do to acquire customers if you have no idea how long they are going to stay and how profitable they will be? Also required are investments in operational excellence and accountability.

There is also a belief by many firms that they just have to ‘participate’ in an activity to get business. One local firm we’re familiar with collected 200 qualified leads from a trade show, yet months later those leads were still collecting dust! They were waiting for the prospects to contact them!

Another Asian company invested over US$50,000 (RM175,000) on a trade show, instructed 3 ‘top’ sales people to represent the company at the trade show and then failed to train the staff on how to behave and sell at the trade show. Moreover, there was zero investment in a lead management programme for leads generated. This meant the company was unable to measure the effectiveness of the trade show.

Finally, within 3 weeks of the trade show ending, two of the sales people manning the booth left the company, taking all the leads generated with them.

As we work to move up the value chain, the goal of every Asian company that wants to build a brand must be profitability, backed by measurement and accountability. Reaching solely for sales or market growth is no longer enough.

Repeat business
Not so long ago, in the US, to reach its sales goals, Ford offered $3,000 in rebates and other special deals off the cost of the Taurus car. Ford maintained its market share – but at the cost of losing money on each vehicle sold. Interestingly, Ford learned from its mistakes. Its next TV ad campaign in the US was based on the following line: “The highest proportion of repeat buyers of any car in its class.” What better testimonial is there? Little wonder then that in a report released by in August 2009, Ford had the highest brand loyalty of any American automotive brand.

Despite the obvious need to invest heavily in retention strategies, ask a typical advertising agency about the branding issues faced by Acer, Sony, Ford and other companies, and what do you think the most common response will be?

Exactly. Recommendations for more ads, in more media across more platforms! They’ll promise a better creative team to provide greater creativity, but what’s really required is accountability for results! The usual agency attitude of “spraying and praying!” may have been the best strategy during the mass economy when there were a limited number of media conduits. But in the customer economy, the proliferation of media outlets and competitive advertisers now makes it practically impossible to build a brand solely based on ‘spraying and praying’.

Strategic approach required
What Asian companies need more than anything else is a strategic approach to branding that is aligned with the new imperatives of the customer driven global economy. Branding in the customer economy requires a fresh look at how the organisation engages with customers, as well as market and profitability requirements.

Rather than a simplistic reliance on logos and creative driven, one-size-fits-all, repetitive advertising, branding today demands research, data, measurement, supply chain effectiveness, customer intelligence, service AND accountability to both customer requirements and resources spent. Only once the company has identified who it should talk to and how, can it start to talk to those prospects.

Because acquisition is so expensive, and existing customers make the best brand ambassadors, branding also requires an emphasis on the identification and retention of PROFITABLE customers. This is especially true as the balance of power shifts from sellers to buyers.

The payoffs from such customer-economy branding can be substantial. British Airways calculates that customer retention efforts return $2 for every dollar invested. The clothing label Zara has thrived against powerhouses like Gap by moving from four collections a year to releasing new styles every two weeks.

So, as Asian firms attempt to move up the value chain, it is imperative companies monitor their retention rates (which fewer than 20% of companies do), because it is the best indicator of future profitability and brand strength.

Track RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary Value) because it shows which customers may be prone to defection and which are candidates for up – or cross – selling. Since it is likely 20% of customers are generating 80% of profits, segment customers according to profitability, and develop unique value propositions for the top 1%, 4% and 15%.

Calculate the lifetime value of clients. For instance, Ford calculates that a customer who buys his first car at the age of eighteen, upgrades it every three years and services it at a Ford dealership is worth a six figure sum to Ford over a lifetime. Cadillac estimates the lifetime value to be $300,000.

Revisit dormant customers. And optimize spending by developing marketing ROI based on actual customer profitability.

Other areas of organisational excellence that are key to building global Asian brands include recruitment and training. The retail sector is only realizing a fraction of its potential. This is partly due to the lack of training of staff and subsequent indifference of frontline staff when interacting with customers. If there is no attempt to build rapport with a prospect, why should the prospect return?

This is also true of manufacturing. One company in Malaysia we contacted recently listed 2 markets it wanted to develop as the UK and France. Yet when we called the office, no one spoke English.

Building Asian brands will take much more than basic advertising and PR. Core requirements include research, accountability, operational excellence, data management and customer equity (lifetime value of customers).

In Malaysia, according to research carried out by PriceWaterhouse Coopers, 86% of Malaysian CEOs and their Board of Directors say that they believe in the economic potential of effective brand building. However, almost the same number of CEO respondents admitted that they do not have a brand unit to integrate brand practices within their organisation. Sentiments are similar in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam

Until those C level executives take the plunge and invest in their brands by building operational excellence into their brand strategy, the concept of building global Malaysian or other Asian brands will remain just that, a concept.


Positioning, an exercise in naive manipulative futility

I have a great dialogue going with Derrick Daye at branding strategy insider

I told him that positioning is an outdated strategy that wastes money, is immeasurable and should be confined to the marketing graveyard. He replied that I am wrong because although the world has changed in the last 40 years, the human condition hasn’t.

Here is my response in full.

Derrick you make the fundamental mistake that the majority of other marketers make – that the human condition hasn’t changed. Do you really believe that? Do you really believe that despite all that extra noise and clutter and, let’s face it, false promises on product capabilities and deliverables; despite the radical changes that have occurred in the way we lead our lives and so on, the tools and channels that we use to source information, the human condition is the same in 2009 as it was in 1969?

The world has been through unprecedented changes since Mr Trout published his first article on positioning. Yet advertising agencies and brand consultants continue to recommend positioning to clients, whatever their industry. I do agree that in its day, positioning could work, and I stress the word could, for large consumer-oriented firms but with MAYBE one or two exceptions, it is not the right way forward.

It is exactly because of the multiple sources of information available to the consumer, including from those that the consumer respects and, more importantly, believes and the subsequent over-communication of product controlled messages as mentioned by you, as well as the fact that there is an abundance of choice and channels, the consumer can now control the relationship the brand has with them and therefore define the brand.

Indeed, any attempt to ‘own a singular concept in the mind’, or as someone else put it, ‘find an empty space in the consumers mind and then park your brand there’ is basically an expensive exercise in naive manipulative futility.

Branding blunders – updated

Despite the fact that it is breaking new ground, there wasn’t much interest outside of the energy business when Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev announced in late June 2009 that Russia was entering into a joint gas venture with Nigeria’s state oil company. Perhaps it was because it was in Africa and energy deals are quite common in that part of the world or it could have been because the deal was relatively small, in energy terms at roughly US$2.5bn.

Whatever the reason, the story seemed likely to show up briefly in the trade journals and perhaps as a footnote in the business pages of a few mainstream publications. And then came the name. Naming is, depending who you talk to, ‘a fine art’ (most agency types) or ‘yanking a word out of your butt’ (Nick Wreden).

I don’t know who was responsible for the name of this new organisation. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a team of industry brains who put their heads together for hours on end to come up with a suitable name that would position Russia as the saviour of African energy. Having been involved in similar naming projects, I suspect they studied the companies and countries involved, as well as others from different parts of the world, the competition, the industry, maps, multiple dictionaries, probably in many languages, the planets, names of extinct animals, disused road names, drilling equipment and so on.

Finally, no doubt after many arguments, late nights eating artery hardening comfort food and tantrums that would shame any precocious 5 year old, and as the deadline loomed, these exhausted creative geniuses eventually made a call and decided to play it safe. They decided to use a combination of Nigeria and gaz. Let’s call it Nigaz!

As you can imagine, Twittizens were onto the story in a flash and are still tweeting about it a month later. Meanwhile, more sophisticated trade publications such as Brand Republic announced that the name had “rather different connotations” for English-speakers. Indeed.

So as this latest branding blunder plays itself out, I thought it would be an opportune time to take a look at some others that have made us chuckle over the years. There are ten of them (including Nigaz) listed below. I’ve created a poll and you the reader can vote and decide who is the winner!

10) One of the most successful taglines for Kentucky Fried Chicken was “finger lickin’ good”. The trouble is, when translated into Mandarin (or is it Cantonese?) it becomes “eat your fingers off”.

9) When UK telecom company Orange launched their tagline “the future’s bright, the future’s Orange” Catholics in Northern Ireland were angry because the term “orange” is associated with Protestantism.

8) The Mitsubishi Pajero won a number of awards around the world for being so robust. For brand consistency reasons, they wanted to use the name in every country. Unfortunately they didn’t do enough research in Spain and after the launch had to change the name because in Spain, Pajero means ‘wanker’. (In the UK a wanker is someone who masturbates).

7) Spain gets another mention for another failed automotive branding story. This one revolves around Chevrolet. Some time ago Chevrolet decided to introduce the Nova to the Spanish market. Sales were poor, why? Because in Spanish Nova means ‘no-go.’

6) No brand mistakes article would be complete without a contribution from Pepsi. My favourite one is the “come alive with the Pepsi generation” slogan, which in Taiwan is “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead”.

5) And if we mention Pepsi, it’s only fair that we mention Coke. About 5 years ago, Coke wanted to break into the bottled water business. The name chosen was Dasani. OK so far. Coke announced that its “highly sophisticated purification process” was based on Nasa spacecraft technology. Soon after it was discovered to be a reverse osmosis process used in off the shelf domestic water purification tools. To make things even worse, just as the project was about to launch, it was discovered that the UK supply was contaminated with bromate, a chemical better known for causing cancer.

4) Five years ago, Cingular bought AT&T Wireless. AT&T was considered number one in terms of poor service. After the acquisition, Cingular binned the AT&T name. Four years later, Cingular Wireless was rebranded as AT&T Wireless.

I suspect the firm’s customers would have preferred that money had been spent improving operational issues rather than being wasted on a pointless rebranding exercise. Despite the re re branding, in 2007, AT&T Wireless generated the most complaints overall and the most complaints per subscriber, according to the FCC.

3) As personal branding seems to be getting a lot of ink at the moment, one of my favourite gaffs was the one about Lee Ryan (of Blue fame) who gave an interview just after 9/11. During the interview he was quoted as saying, ‘What about whales? They are ignoring animals that are more important. Animals need saving and that’s more important. This New York thing is being blown out of proportion.’ Many industry insiders consider these comments to be the reason for the demise of Blue.

1) One of the greatest naming disasters of all time must be the attempt by Dragon Brands to change the Royal Mail of the UK from a 300 year old domestic mail only (government) institution to a multi dimensional distribution company. Dragon Brands did a lot of internal and external research over a two year period and then assessed the aims of the brand using measures that included ‘the three p’s’ – personality, physique and presentation.

Next they took three circular like shapes and filled them with words such as ‘scope’ and ‘ambition’ and apparently (I’m not making this up) this brought together ‘the hard and the soft aspects of the brand’s desired positioning.’

This remarkable process threw up hundreds of actual words as well as some that were made up. Apparently the brain storming team favoured Consignia because it included consign and the dictionary definition of consign is ‘to entrust to the care of’.

The cost of the new name was £2 million. It lasted approximately 18 months.

Since this article was written we’ve had a couple of suggestions to be included in the poll.

11) When the Citroen C4 was launched in Malaysia (and no doubt elsewhere in the Cantonese speaking world), sales were poor. The manufacturer recruited expensive research companies to determine why. Apparently, C$ in Cantonese sounds like ‘stalled’.

12) Ken Peters reminded me of the fiasco back in the late 1990s, surrounding the sports attire manufacturer Reebok who launched a running shoe for women the ‘Incubus’. According to legend, Incubus was a “male demon who had intercourse with sleeping women.”

Positioning, part two

A couple of respondents to this blog (and thank you all for commenting) have used Coke and Seven up as examples of successful positioning strategies. I appreciate they are great brands and they were built up over time but that was during an economy that no longer exists. Many sugary drinks launched in more recent times using similar positioning strategies to build the brand have failed to make a significant impact or even failed completely. Even those launched during the mass economy era, when positioning was considered the holy grail, failed.

One example is Pepsi One, a diet cola lauched in October 1998. Sales were healthy enough to begin with thanks to a hugely expensive positioning campaign and Pepsi One soon had 2% market share. However, it didn’t take long for consumers to realise that it tasted much like Diet Pepsi. Pepsi One’s market share dropped to about 1% and never moved.

New Coke was launched in April 1985, it was an unmitigated disaster and in fact, it is considered by many to be the ‘biggest marketing blunder of all time’. This despite a huge advertising budget funding a massive positioning strategy. Remember in the 1970’s, Coke had been positioned as ‘The Real Thing’ and at the time of the New Coke launch, the tagline for Coke was, ‘Coke Is It.’ So basically, Coke tried to position it as ‘The New Real Thing’ or worse, tell consumers, ‘Sorry, Coke wasn’t it, this is it.’ Al Ries said it best, ‘It was like trying to introduce a new God.’ Even Mecca cola, that should really be the number 1 cola in any muslim dominated country, hardly sells anything outside of a few cities in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

BTW Coke is acknowledged as the world’s most popular soft drink, with about 50% of the global market. I would argue, and this is really setting the cat amongst the pidgeons, that what built the coke brand was not its positioning strategy and its iconic advertising, but actually its brilliant use of the supply chain via its franchise system and its ability to distribute to just about every nook and cranny in 200 countries and territories on the planet.

Other problems I have with positioning, and I didn’t really go into this in the earlier piece, is that developing a positioning strategy is extremely expensive and impossible to measure. So essentially you spend a small fortune to play a guessing game. If you are a multi national, like Coca Cola, then this may be an option, although if I owned, the stock, I would do my best to resist such an approach. If you are a small business, or even a large Asian organisation looking to develop a global brand strategy, you are simply wasting valuable resources in the hope that consumers or other businesses will take note, remember and buy your product or service. However, as Rick Page said, ‘Hope is not a strategy’.

One person commented that lower valued brands don’t occupy any position in the minds of consumers. If by lower valued brands, he means smaller sized companies, then he is right, they generally don’t occupy any position in the minds of consumers, because 1) In today’s fast paced, complex and cluttered world, most consumers don’t have any space in their minds for anything and 2) because the communications or content do not resonate with them.

Another comment was related to who is responsible for the brand, strategic development or the creative department. Well, brand building is a strategic endeavour not a creative exercise.