[Grand Prize] Smart Strategies to Upgrade Korea’s Brand Image
Since the 1960s, South Korea has achieved a significant record of growth and integration into the economically-advanced and high-tech modern economies, coming up with strong brand products especially in the automobile ( Hyundai cars, KIA) and the electronic (SAMSUNG and LG) markets. This has been visible in the country's GDP per capita growth from $85 in the 1960s to $26,000 (2008 estimate). Initially, this success was achieved under a system of close government/ business ties. The Asian Financial crisis of 1997-98 exposed
As the world becomes more and more globalized, it is difficult to avoid effective marketing. It is through developing and understanding marketing that successful companies have been able to offer an ever wider choice of brands to meet human needs and wants. Domestic firms in every country have come to realize that they can no longer ignore foreign competition and foreign markets. Upgrading brand image is one of the powerful tools employed by manufacturers in their unending struggle for survival and growth. Among the measures being adopted both by the government and private business owners to combat the global financial turmoil that began in September 2008, upgrading Korea's brand image especially in the international market should be a prerogative to both parties. Here are some propositions for ways to upgrade Korea's brand image in the international market.
Too often, positive news and developments in Korea are overshadowed by news related with North Korea, import duties, currency fluctuations and the achievements of Japan and China. Well coordinated and targeted efforts to be in the news for positive reasons should therefore be given utmost priority by Korea as a nation.
South Korea was not known to a greater part of the world before the 2002 FIFA World Cup hosted by Korea and Japan. But this event exposed Korea to many parts of the world. Therefore, Korea should try to annually organize international level glamour sports like tennis or golf. This keeps the country in the international news for weeks and builds positive and long lasting positive image.
Among high income countries, Korea does not fare very well in the list of aid donors. This is one area it can improve. Additionally, Korea should take leadership roles in international affairs particularly in areas of trade, human and workers rights, increasing business competitiveness and international cooperation and aid. These are not only relevant issues within Korea but, by taking an active leadership role in these areas, it can attain higher political and moral standing in the world's affairs.
With increasing global environmental concerns, the effective designing, packaging and distribution of brands that are environmentally friendly could be a way of upgrading Korea's brand image. Although most business organizations are profit oriented, they must learn to balance this objective against the long term needs of the society, for a safe and healthy environment.
In addition, Korean manufacturers need to know which marketing activities are ethical and which violate current business standards in different societies. This is most important in the areas of product labeling and advertizing. This will go a long way not only to upgrade Korean brand image abroad but also to make them acceptable in different societies across the globe.
Furthermore, Korean manufacturers need to select appropriate marketing segments to be the target of their efforts. They have to understand their competitors ― how many exist and what strategies they are adopting. A proper analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities that face a particular brand is very important. A proper analysis will enable Korean manufacturers to come up with a mix of brands that are acceptable, affordable and available to consumers through promotion to create awareness.
Moreover, mergers are becoming significant marketing strategies adopted by businesses around the world. The 'marriage' between General Motors and Daewoo is a good example that can be emulated by other Korean companies to project their brand's image abroad.
Lastly, Korea should create a friendly and welcoming environment for foreign students, teachers and workers. It is estimated that nearly 10% of Koreans will be foreign-born by 2050. Thus, Korea will be a prized destination for years to come for foreigners. Paper work should be simplified and work opportunities expanded for such citizens because these are cultural ambassadors and their collective negative experience, if it goes beyond a point, could bring a severe and long-lasting blow to attempts of improving Korea's image in the world.
These proposals may not be ideal but can be a succinct and clear roadmap to upgrading not only Korea's brand image but that of the nation, both in the domestic and foreign market.