On Monday (05 April), the NUS MBA Marketing Club welcomed Martin Roll, a business and brand strategist, for a presentation about "Business & Brand Leadership" in their beautiful, new Mochtar Riady Building. Martin (INSEAD MBA alumnus) is a thought-leader on value creation through brand equity and the author of the book Asian Brand Strategy which was named "Best Business Books 2006” by Strategy+Business magazine.
In an inspiring and interactive session, Martin started his talk by asking the participants to name leading Asian brands. After several minutes of discussion, the about 45 strong group of full-time MBA students, faculty members and guests from the corporate world agreed that there are only a few leading global Asian brands - if we exclude Japanese brands as well as some brands from South Korea such as Samsung and LG.
Importantly, the most profitable Asian companies focus on intangibles such as human capital, exploiting network effects and creating synergies based on brands, rather than investing in tangible assets according to a McKinsey study. However, many Asian companies are challenged to follow this approach due to their path dependency with less focus on innovation, dominance of large diversified conglomerates, excess capacity and Asian specifics regarding IP and trademarks. Thus, the challenge for Asian companies is to build brand equity in order to capture a larger portion of the value creation in the value chain and in order to catch up with Western icons such as P&G, Apple, McKinsey or Goldman Sachs.
Martin enthusiastically shared with the group his opinion about the weaknesses of the Marketing function such as a lack of marketing representation in the boardroom through a Chief Marketing Officer. He outlined that functional attributes, points of difference, emotional values and a strong brand are needed in order to create a real connection and a strong global iconic brand. Having discussed the basics, the group learned from successes such as Banyan Tree, Amazing Thailand campaign, Jim Thompson, SK-II what is needed to develop a strong brand. HSBC, Lenovo, Hero Honda, Laneíge, Huawei, Uniqlo were further examples to illustrate parts of strong brand leadership of Asian companies.
For the students of Asia's global business school NUS, the example of excellent brand leadership at Singapore Airlines helped to deepen their learning about self-motivated creativity (success & outperformance) within an organization which is mainly instilled by organizational alignment in a three step process: building awareness, generating acceptance and sustaining commitment through performance management, feedback as well as intensive training.
At the end of the presentation, Martin successfully inspired the participants to take an active role in shaping a bright future for Asia and for Asian companies through mastering Marketing and leading Asian brands to great regional and global recognition. Thereby, they would follow many Asian leaders who return from overseas back to Asia in order to leverage their global mindset and experience creating arising global brands and building highly-profitable businesses through brand equity.
For those of you who are interested in more information about Asian Brand Strategy, I would recommend to watch the 5-minute speech of Martin on Youtube or to consider buying Martin's awarded book Asian Brand Strategy
NUS MBA Exchange Student