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|Some of Vietnam’s most popular exports could reach even higher with a suitable brand-building strategy behind them. Photo: Le Toan|
Concerned about their brands, many Vietnamese enterprises said that they are still trying to find a method to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of investment in branding, as a branding strategy built on a common template cannot help them make a difference.
Secoin Corp, an artistic tile manufacturer in Southeast Asia with three showrooms and seven factories across the country, has been exporting to 60 global markets. This enterprise has collaborated with many famous designers in the world to create exclusive collections as well as a gem corporation to develop a line of gem-handmade tiles.
“We once refused to cooperate with large brands to focus on developing our export markets. But then we negotiated our partner so that they would state the country of origin and name Secoin on the products to establish our tile brand in the global supply chain,” said Dinh Hong Ky, chairman of Secoin’s Board of Directors.
A corporate brand is a combination of brand strategy, investment and resources for developing and protecting the brand, and other values such as social responsibility and quality. Those elements constitute brand value, and businesses commonly aim to develop a methodical investment strategy for their brand.
More businesses are now aware of the importance of brands as the key to increasing product and enterprise value. The number of enterprises participating in the Vietnam Value Programme, as well as those that have been recognised as Vietnam Value, increased from 30 enterprises in 2008 to 124 enterprises with 283 products in 2020.
In order to be recognised, companies must adhere to the three core values: quality - innovation - leadership. These values are not just slogans, but need to be turned into specific actions.
Thue Quist Thomasen, member of the Executive Committee of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, therefore recommended that businesses need to have great patience for customers’ trust when building a brand.
“Businesses should pay attention to products with geographical indications and unique characteristics to build a brand on,” Thomasen asserted.
Nguyen Thanh Son, chairman of MVV Group, pointed out that national brands are a driving force for businesses to build communication programmes based on the brands’ prestige. Thus, “businesses should not only focus on achieving the title of a national brand but also look at corporate values that can be taken advantage of,” Son recommended.
“National brand will provide businesses with a set of tools to operate and change, helping them to see where they are and where they need to be, as well as how to evaluate the effectiveness of activities and their internal strength.
Son also explained that companies could promote their national brands through six pillars: leading position, corporate vision, corporate image, corporate social responsibility, internal communication, and press relations.
In recent years, the ranking of Vietnam’s national brands has been continuously improved globally thanks to the government’s efforts in reforming the business and investment environment, expanding bilateral and multilateral relations, and supporting import-export along with enterprises’ branding efforts.
Brand Finance’s report shows that in 2020, Vietnam was one of the countries with the fastest national brand growth in the world. As a result, the value of Vietnam’s national brands has increased nine places, to 33rd, in the top 100 most valuable national brands in the world.
Heavily affected by COVID-19, the top 10 countries in terms of brand value decreased on average, including regional competitors such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Therefore, the rapid growth of Vietnamese national brands could be a huge advantage in increasing Vietnamese enterprises’ competitiveness.
Five years ago, many young Vietnamese were so fond of foreign products that they even willing use fake goods instead of buying Vietnamese brands. Nguyen Phu Cuong, marketing director of Biti’s Co., Ltd., said, “Vietnam is one of the top exporters of shoes in the world, and now made-in-Vietnam shoes are often more expensive than those made in China.”
As many local manufacturers receive outsourcing orders, Vietnamese shoemakers are often forced to accept the prices of their clients. In order to influence their products’ prices, they would need to build their own brand and market it accordingly.
“However, businesses would have to create the right products and stories to pull customers towards them, as a pair of shoes is not only there to protect the feet but also considered reaffirming the ego and image of the wearer. This is the premise for building our brand,” Cuong commented.
Vu Ba Phu, director general of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), said, “Brand building needs to be associated with domestic and foreign intellectual property registration.” Thus, the ministry supports enterprises with the recognition as national brands to introduce their products in domestic and foreign markets. Phu also noted that branding needs the initiative of businesses to allocate resources for brand protection and development.
“We have a network of commercial counsellors and lawyers in this field to support businesses in the process of intellectual property registration in export markets,” Phu explained.
This year, Vietrade prioritises programmes to promote Vietnamese brands in fast-growing markets, backed by the many free trade agreements between Vietnam and its partners.
The ongoing policy renewal of the Vietnam Value Programme is also further bolstering the image and value of national brands to become stronger and occupy higher positions in the international markets.
In 2021, the Vietnam Value Programme will continue to build and develop brands associated with positive and outstanding values. The programme is expected to be synchronised with imports and exports of goods and services. Furthermore, one of the goals is to increase the export turnover of national brands to 1,000 products. The programme is also expected to increase the number of businesses with high brand values in prestigious global rankings by 10 per cent.
To achieve these goals, the MoIT will coordinate with relevant ministries, agencies, localities, and organisations to support enterprises to develop products that meet the highest criteria, as well as support them with brand protection, promotion and communication activities at home and abroad.