/ Key Takeaways From The Brand Finance Forum

STC Singapore recently attended the Brand Finance Forum held in Singapore, that gathers senior marketing and brand professionals from global MNCs and regional brands covering the areas of brand valuation, analytics, strategy and intellectual property.

The speaking slots that we stayed on for explored a diverse range of marketing topics from brand alignment, ISO certification, strategies in the Asian market and so forth – which made for a very inspiring and stimulating morning. Here are our main takeaways…

Successes and strategies of brands
Global – Hanging off every marketer’s lips, the Apple case study surfaced once again when profiling a wildly successful, innovative brand. Although not the first brand to come up with a computer or mp3 player, they rose to the top with not just product innovation but also service innovation, and building a carefully constructed brand network and ecosystem consisting of technology partners (Bose appliance), content providers (Sony BMG), apparel alliances (Nike), retailer alliances (Verizon/ Best Buy) and so forth.

Asia – Much talk centered around taming and gripping the Asian dragon, and just how key a market it is in the sense that brands and markets that took 70-80 years to grow in the US and Europe, are taking only a decade to mature in Asia (from automotives, retail chains to luxury goods). Going with the natural flow of growth and segmented marketing is critical in Asia, case in point on how both India and China can have the largest markets for Bentleys and Rolls Royces, while concurrently having the largest markets for mass market offerings like Suzuki, Honda and of course its own domestic brands.

Glocal – Global brands going local was covered in extensive and exciting detail by Leanne Cutts, VP of Marketing for Kraft Foods in Asia, who showcased two integrated marketing campaigns for Horlicks in India, and Oreos in China. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the entire reel that showcased the strategy of targeting moms – specifically for Oreos – by 1) creating a ritual (twist, lick, dunk) 2) engaging the mother (TVC and print ads featuring a father and child, working more effectively than featuring a mother and child by pulling at a mother’s instincts, tapping into characteristics of thinking of her family) and finally 3) making it easy for mom to buy Oreos (by aggressively rolling out in store PoS collateral, setting up kiosks in high volume areas, releasing coupons, etc). The Oreos China campaign was fronted by NBA star Yao Ming, which comprised of TVC, print ads, and digital platforms like a twist, lick and dunk game, micro site.

A key strategy which was mighty interesting to us, was how Kraft entered the Indian market with Oreos, with the Cadbury logo instead of Kraft’s on its packaging– as Cadbury was already a well established brand in India, compared to Kraft.

When brands fail
Shauna Li-Roolvink, Strategy Director for Brand Finance spoke at length about brand reputation and risk – covering the usual suspects such as BP, Toyota, Enron and Arthur Anderson. She also shared slides on her client case study on Cisco, who after a string of bad publicity of their own staff behaving badly, whose acts ironically conflicted with Cisco’s main proposition of providing security solutions – decided to launch an internal campaign advocating character and personal values.

A separate panel discussion touched on this topic, and a question surfaced about how the Tiger Woods brand was going/ever going to resurrect itself from the scandal in 2009. To which a panelist responded, to simply “Play better golf.” Having no outstanding wins coupled with his semi-hiatus from the golf circuit post crisis, and a few weeks ago missing the PGA cut that he had won 14 times before – indeed, his game was lagging. People tend to forget, that Tiger Wood’s success with his brand affiliations have more to do with his performance than personal life, which is why Nike has boldly and successfully retained their partnership with Tiger Woods as their brand alignment strategy is based on sporting performance and excellence. Whereas Accenture had to pull out of their partnership as their brand alignment strategy was based on Wood’s personal values and principles.

Final Thoughts
It was inspiring, exciting and rejuvenating to sit through the forum, albeit with marketing theories that have been rehashed to death, or easily gleaned from marketing textbooks and literature – we left feeling motivated to learn more, and act more on behalf of the brands that we interact with and manage!

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