Successful organisations create value by building
strong brands. Behind every successful brand
lies a clearly defined corporate vision that is
consistently expressed through the company’s
external communications, as well as through
its internal business processes. A strong brand
is crucial for improving sales, strengthening the
customer base and loyalty, and enhancing
business performance. And in today’s world of
endless choices, Singapore companies have to
offer distinct value propositions to convince
sophisticated brand-savvy consumers.
What can Singapore companies do to ensure
that their brands are able to grow within and
beyond Singapore? There are four critical areas
in building strong brands:
1 Understanding the tangible and intangible
aspects of a strong brand
2 Having a long-term mindset behind a clear
brand vision and strategy
3 Ensuring a deep company-wide brand belief
4 Measuring brand-building efforts for better
Understanding the tangible and intangible Having a long-term mindset behind a clear brand
aspects of a strong brand vision and strategy
On a simplistic level, your company’s brand refers to its logo, name, tag line, and To create strong brands, Singapore companies need to begin thinking, planning and
“look”. But the true power and meaning behind great brands lie more in their investing on a long-term basis in areas such as customer service, company expertise,
intangible values than in their tangible features. Intangible values refer to things its employees, its values and guiding principles. Over time, they will begin to see
such as customer preferences, bonding and loyalty, your brand’s credibility and benefits from their brand investments. There will be enhanced employee commitment,
reputation, the associations and imagery of your brand, the core values behind your greater customer loyalty as well as improved investor sentiment.
brand, and even in employees’ loyalty and belief in your brand. These intangible
values form an invisible, but potent support network behind your business offerings. Rather than focusing squarely on short-term activities such as advertising and
They add to your product’s perceived value and as a result, they act to both establish promotion, it is essential that companies channel their efforts and finances on areas
and differentiate the brand from rivals. that build the long-term strength of both the tangible and intangible aspects of their
brand. That way, results generated would be more sustainable after the effects of
Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in a commodity market. When one product the “big bang” approach common in short-term approaches. Brands with a long-
is more or less the same as the others, how can brands differentiate themselves from term strategy are usually stronger and more resilient in challenging economic times.
the others? Here, physical attributes can only play a superficial part – the bigger role
is played by the intangible values of the brand.
One of the best examples of this is in the alcoholic beverages industry. Without a
Design a communications and activities plan that sets short-term and long-
brand, Tiger Beer would be just a beer – a commodity that is difficult to differentiate
term goals for your brand, and builds both its tangible and intangible
based on product attributes and functionality. With branding, an emotional and
aspects. Expenditure needs to be apportioned to take into account both
psychological bond with customers can be established. This is crucial in maintaining
sets of goals.
market share in a highly fragmented beer market characterised by weak brand
loyalty, heavy brand promotions and shifting consumption preferences. Due to the
company’s long-term marketing efforts, enhancement and nurturing of the brand
name Tiger Beer, it is one of the most recognisable brands in the world today.
The important point here is that companies need to focus on building up their
brand’s intangible offering – as much as its tangible, physical offering – in order to
create strong brands that can sustain long-term impact in the market. However, a
majority of the Singapore companies today still fall short in realising the potential
of the intangible value. Does your company understand what your brand’s intangible
values are and how to build them? Does your company have a brand strategy that
is able to efficiently and effectively build both the tangible and intangible aspects
of the brand?
Create a brand platform that takes into account your brand’s tangible
and intangible values. This process should involve senior management
and employees from across different disciplines and levels of the
Ensuring a deep company-wide brand belief and Measuring brand-building efforts for better
Successful brands have the backing of a company-wide belief and commitment Brand measurement is a vital component of the process of building a strong brand.
to branding. Studies have also confirmed that it is the depth and strength of After all, you cannot effectively manage what you do not measure. Think of
company-wide commitment to the brand that is the crucial factor in determining measurement as the compass that every brand relies on to verify that they are going
brand success. For example, at the Raffles International Hotel and Resorts, the in the right direction. If companies are to make the right strategic decisions about
company is filled with passionate brand champions who walk the talk in delivering their brand, they need to do so with qualified feedback.
the brand promise. A sense of personal pride can be clearly seen in all employees
at all customers touch points. Measurement of your brand goes beyond measuring the sales returns from investing
in your brand. It is also a gauge to know where your brand equity or the intangible
Aligning your employees behind your brand purpose and values can create far value of your brand, the reputation and goodwill that your brand has built-up over
greater internal energy, motivation, drive, partnerships and teamwork. However, time for the quality and value it signifies. Equally important to measuring your brand
while the positive returns from investing and ensuring brand commitment and efforts consistently is knowing what to measure. Only then can you further enhance
belief is clear, the brand strategy remains very much confined within the senior your brand programme.
management in most cases. It is vital that companies start to employ strategies
that encourage all employees to embrace and feel responsible for their brand.
Put in place regular and robust measurement procedures that track your
Action Step: brand’s progress in key areas – these should include not just awareness,
Create an internal communications campaign that enhances interest and but also factors such as esteem, loyalty, and key personality drivers.
involvement in your company’s brand, and put in place regular activities
that periodically reinforce the importance and resonance of the brand
with your employees.
When a company is proactive about branding,
its actions can bring about extraordinary
accomplishments over the course of its brand’s
life cycle. A brand is a company asset that must
be creatively sustained by constant investment,
protection and nurturing in order to maximise
its long-term value to your company. It has many
of the same implications on a company’s bottom
line as capital assets like equipment and plant
purchases, including the ability to be bought
and sold, and to provide strategic advantages.
What should you get out of a branding project?
• A perceptual map of your brand • A great name
Branding is all about perception and perception is reality. Your brand is whatever In the short run, you can depend on a unique idea or concept to establish your
your customers perceive it to be. So, you have to do an in-depth brand audit brand in the prospect’s mind. That is how all great brands get started – Xerox,
to find out what people actually think of your brand. More often than not, Intel, Starbucks, Zara, The Body Shop, etc. But in the long run, that unique
there is a gap between what you think of your brand and how it is perceived idea will disappear as your competitors copy it. So, what remains to differentiate
by customers, distributors, suppliers and even your employees. If you do not your brand is the name. A good name should be short, unique, easy-to-
know how your brand is perceived by others, whatever strategy you put in pronounce and memorable. Generic words and acronyms do not make for
place will be flawed. good names so avoid them.
• A clear positioning strategy • A high degree of differentiation
Once you know how your brand is perceived, then you can position your brand Make sure your brand project helps you to create a highly differentiated brand.
better. The branding project you undertake should explore several possible If you are a me-too brand, you will find it hard to achieve success. If customers
positioning strategies and the pros and cons of each one. Once a positioning cannot tell your brand from your competitors’ brands, then the only strategy
strategy has been chosen, it needs to be clearly articulated and understood. you can employ is to sell cheap. You do not want to be caught in that price
You should stick to this positioning strategy for the rest of your brand’s life cycle trap because someone else will be able to do it cheaper. So, that means
as you need consistency to build a strong brand. So make sure you get it right. whatever your competitors are already doing, you have to avoid.
• The correct brand architecture • A focused brand
Brand architecture is simply the attributes (or nuts-and-bolts) of a brand. It is At the end of the branding project, you should end up with a focused brand.
what defines the brand. In order to properly support your positioning strategy, That means the brand stands for one thing and one thing only. Very often,
your brand needs to deliver what it promises. Therefore, the right brand companies try to stretch the brand by getting into too many categories, related
architecture is critical. When doing the brand architecture, you will need to or otherwise. This is a recipe for disaster. Only focused brands can own a
consider whether your brand, as it is now, has what it takes to successfully position in the customer’s mind and only if you have a position in the customers’
occupy the position that you desire in the market. If not, you need to know mind can you be successful. For example, Volvo is focused on safety, Zara is
what you need to change and improve to do that. focused on just-in-time fashion, Intel is focused on microprocessors, etc.
• Proper brand alignment
Finally, a brand cannot be successful if the people responsible for that brand
do not know what it stands for and what to do. So, a proper brand alignment
is necessary. Brand alignment is an exercise to ensure that all your key brand
ambassadors – management, employees and distributors – know what the
brand is and how to deliver on the brand promise consistently to build that
How do you select a brand consultant?
• Track record • Make sure the work is strategic
It is not necessary to get a brand consultant who has undertaken branding This is very, very important. You need to make a clear distinction between the
projects in your industry as the fundamental principles of branding are universal strategic and tactical components of your branding project. What your brand
and can be applied across industries and regardless of whether yours is a B2C consultant proposes to do should be strategic in nature. Strategic components
or B2B product or service. However, it is important to ensure that the consultant are things like the essence of the brand, its attributes, how it is positioned in
has a good track record in the branding business. Who has the consultant done the market, is it properly understood internally, how it should be communicated
work for? What is the scope of work actually done? How extensive is it? Do to customers, etc. Only then can you proceed to the more operational aspects
you perceive the work to be good? such as packaging design, etc.
• The people • The price
Are the people who talked to you the same people who will be doing the work? Although price is a consideration, do not choose consultants based on price
It is important that you are introduced to the team that will actually be doing alone. The price should be commensurate with the consultant’s experience,
the work. What are their qualifications and experience? Who else does the expertise, track record, etc. You also have to compare the scope of work. Does
consulting firm have in the company? It is important to know the actual people the scope of work justify the price? A 150-page proposal is no guarantee that
who will be doing the work to ensure that they understand your needs and the work is very comprehensive. Probe deeper. And finally, do not treat the
concerns, and also to make sure that you are comfortable working with them. fee you are paying as a marketing expense. Treat it as an investment in your
• The clients
It would be a good idea if the consultant can provide a list of clients that they • Ask for recommendations
have worked for and also testimonials from clients. At the very least, the You may have business associates, friends or even clients who have engaged
consultant should have some case studies of work that has been done for the services of branding consultants before. Talk to them. Ask them for their
clients. The case studies need not be very long, but certain basic elements like views and recommendations and they should be able to recommend a firm
the challenges facing the client and what the consultants have done to help that suits your needs.
the client overcome these challenges should be present. You might even want
to call some of the clients up and ask them for their views.
• The methodology
Ask the consultant to explain clearly to you their methodology. What are the
various stages involved? What does each stage entail? What are the resources
that need to be committed (from both the consultants as well as yourself) at
each stage? How long will each stage take? What are the deliverables at the
completion of each stage of work? What kind of results can you expect to see?
Make sure that you and your colleagues who are involved fully understand the
methodology before you proceed.
International Enterprise Singapore
Formerly known as the Singapore Trade Development Board (TDB), International
Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore) is the lead agency spearheading Singapore’s
efforts to develop its external economic wing.
Our mission is to help Singapore-based companies grow and internationalise
successfully. We offer a wide range of services in 35 locations worldwide by using
a 3C framework of assistance – Competency, Connections and Capital. We provide
market information, assist enterprises to develop their business capabilities and find
overseas partners. At the same time, IE Singapore works to position Singapore as a
base for foreign businesses to expand into the region in partnership with Singapore-
For more information, please visit www.iesingapore.com
SPRING (Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board) Singapore’s mission is to
enhance the competitiveness of enterprises for a vibrant Singapore economy. We
International Enterprise Singapore
work to nurture a pro-business environment that encourages enterprise formation
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and growth; facilitate the growth of industries; enhance productivity and innovation
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and capabilities of enterprises; and help increase access to markets and business
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For more information, please visit www.spring.gov.sg
+65 6337 6898 fax
2 Bukit Merah Central
+65 6898 1800 tel
+65 6276 9606 fax
About BrandPact www.spring.gov.sg
BrandPact is a multi-agency initiative to better meet the varied brand development needs of local enterprises
as they grow and expand within Singapore and into the global marketplace. BrandPact will support both
firm-level branding capability development as well as industry-wide branding efforts. This holistic initiative
will raise awareness and understanding of branding, develop brand savvy executives and catalyse the adoption
of branding as a strategy for business competitiveness.
“Starting Your Brand Journey” was adapted from ”Singapore’s Brand Journey” published by IE Singapore