Positioning a service for maximum success [National, The (United Arab Emirates)]
(National, The (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Gérard Tocquer is a vice dean for the international programme at Mahidol University in Thailand. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
Building a consumer-goods brand is significantly different from - and more difficult than - constructing a service such as an airline's, says Gérard Tocquer, a vice dean for the international programme at Mahidol University's College of Management in Thailand. The lecturer, who is on assignment at the Sorbonne Abu Dhabi teaching marketing and customer experience for an international business and languages master's course, discusses how service brands should best position themselves.
What challenges do international brands face launching here?
I have been in Asia [for] 20 years, so I have more experience about South East Asia, China and Hong Kong, [where] I spent eight years. But I think the challenges are the same. When we think about branding and we think about building a brand, I think we use a kind of universal approach. The problem is you get so many cultural issues that are linked to a brand that it makes some brands more difficult to export. But I don't see any difference about building a brand in the UAE.
What is it about a brand that can be difficult to export? Are some, like Coca-Cola, not the same everywhere?
Not exactly the same because the product is different. They are able to modify some ingredients and adapt to the local market, like the level of sweetness and some things like that. When you are talking about Coca-Cola, you are talking about consumer goods, and we should not forget that all these consumer brands have been created 100 years ago. Building a service brand is more complex and more difficult than building a consumer goods [brand] like a soft drink.
When I was a student in the US, I had to buy some toothpaste. I had the choice between four brands. Now I have the choice between 200 brands, so how could you position a brand among 200 brands? You get more choice and that makes branding more complicated.
So how do companies stand out when trying to build a brand for a bank or airline, for instance?
If we are talking about a service, for example, the huge difference is you are building the brand for the customer experience, and the role of the employee is key. And the most difficult thing is to involve the employee in building the brand.
And how do companies do that?
A few years ago, I had an interview with a French company called Orange, a telecommunications [company]. They moved to Thailand and they really wanted to create a strong brand in Thailand. They wanted to bring the employee to be sure that the employee would be involved, engaged and will support the brand. They recruited a young Thai manager coming from Coca-Cola, and she worked very hard for two years involving all the employees from all different departments to be sure that they know the brand and support the brand.
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