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Winning hearts and minds - Dec 12, 2007 (ST)

BackDec 12, 2007

The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

Winning hearts and minds

Formerly known as the Singapore Promising Brand Award, the Singapore Prestige Brand Award reflects better the changes in the local branding scene and honours the exemplary branding efforts of Singapore companies.

By Ahmad Osman
Dec 12, 2007
The Straits Times

LOCAL brands are winning hearts and opening the wallets of consumers in Singapore and other countries.

Forty-four of them, including Goldheart Jewelry and Sakae Sushi, developed, managed and marketed their brands successfully here and overseas.

And they have all won the Singapore Prestige Brand Award (SPBA) organised by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Asme) and the Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao.

The SPBA, introduced this year, is the new name for the annual Singapore Promising Brand Award given by Asme and Lianhe Zaobao to 119 local companies from 2002 to 2006.

The name enhances the status of the new award and makes it more relevant to the intensively competitive business environment for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

An increasing number of local SMEs are using their brands to increase sales and profits and expand abroad.

Most of their businesses are thriving now, and they include previous winners of the Singapore Promising Brand Award.

Some of these winners and those who win the SPBA may develop branding strategies to achieve the aim of becoming globally renowned brands.

"Their success in the global marketplace will enhance the Singapore brand," says Asme's president, Mr Lawrence Leow.

He describes branding as a key strategic advantage for companies to differentiate their products and services.

It is easier for a strong sustainable brand to retain and attract customers, protect business margins and recruit high calibre staff.

Mr Leow adds: "In Singapore's open economy where the domestic market is limited, home-grown companies should be even more compelled to embark on brand development for their future success."

Mr William Lim, organising committee chairman of SPBA 2007, says SMEs vying for the new award can use the experience to enhance the development of their brands.

The SPBA helps the brand owners to have a better understanding of brand communication within their organisations and with external customers.

Mr Robin Hu, Singapore Press Holdings' executive vice-president for Chinese newspapers and newspaper services, says the winners share the spotlight in the local and international media.

This, he notes, is especially beneficial for promising brands that are three to five years old.

Businesses that face fierce competition must pay special attention to branding strategies to strengthen their market positions, he says.

"In today's fast-changing society where consumers are spoilt for choice, branding is truly the key to a company's success."

Lianhe Zaobao joined hands with Asme from 2002 to help SMEs to understand the importance of branding and promote the growth of local brands and Singapore businesses.

The newspaper launched its China and China Business sections in March 2003 to provide local companies with extensive coverage of the country.

In 2004, a weekly feature was launched in the newspaper's business section, focusing on news related to SMEs and exclusive interviews with their chief executive officers.

Lianhe Zaobao's chief editor, Mr Lim Jim Koon, says its weekly feature will continue to highlight new SMEs and the milestones of the more established enterprises.

Publicity in zaobao.com, which has daily page views of five million, will improve the popularity of local brands overseas.

"This will certainly help them to take off across borders," he adds.

The award this year is divided into four categories:

  • Promising Brands - up-and-coming brands in existence for three to five years;
  • Established Brands - brands that have been around between six and 30 years;
  • Heritage Brands - brands that embraced exceptional branding practices for at least 30 years; and
  • CitiBusiness Regional Brands - brands established for at least three years and which have a presence in a minimum of five foreign markets. They have what the organisers describe as the ability to retain their true values in the successful transfer of the essence of Singapore brands to other countries.