Thursday, October 21, 2010

Singapore not as high-end as HK

I was in Hong Kong for a week long editor’s conference and was looking for a high-end gift for my high maintenance husband.

Walking along the IFC, I drooled when I saw brand names like Tom Ford and Ascot Chang which carries Brioni. Brioni the makers of the tuxedo in James Bond’s Casino Royale!

As a Singaporean, I felt envious. Why doesn’t Singapore have top notch brands setting up shop in this city?

The daggers of envy were stabbed deeper when Marketing’s entire regional editorial team visited the Monocole store. Global affairs magazine Monocle opened its second retail store in Asia, launching a Hong Kong bureau to join London, Tokyo, New York and Z├╝rich.

The store will play a dual role, acting as a retails front and as a hub for its editorial operations.

Why didn’t Monocole’s editor Tyler Brule set up operations in Singapore?

I decided to ask some branding experts for their thoughts.

Size, perception and reality were the reasons given to why high-end brands set up in Hong Kong. Size does matter especially with Hong Kong’s 7 million population versus Singapore’s 5 million. This makes Hong Kong a more attractive choice for a premium brand’s location after Tokyo and Shanghai.

“Though perception is changing, Hong Kong has a longer history as a global city having attracted global financiers and travelers for longer too. And reality is another reason. Hong Kong’s climate plays a role with its four seasons linking well to the fashion industry’s exciting seasonal cycles versus Singapore’s ‘single’ season. Hong Kong has also been longer linked with ostentatious wealth which would also attract premium brands to Hong Kong first, before Singapore,” said brand specialist Interbrand.

I got my answers but my envy didn’t end.

I did leave Hong Kong with a Brioni wallet though.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's got everyone talking... 'Really'?

Microsoft Windows 7 phone ad is garnering much attention in most parts of the world, with bloggers voicing extreme opinions. Tell us what you think about it?

I personally enjoyed seeing the video but hang on, what’s the differentiation in as far as its messaging is concerned? I fail to understand.

And as my colleague says, the background music looks like its right out of Wisteria Lane in Desperate Housewives!

There are moments in the video that do make you smile but I guess that’s all.

What do you think? Let us know.

Friday, October 01, 2010

What’s In A Name or W.I.A.N?

YOG or Youth Olympic Games. This begs the question, yet again- What’s In A Name (W.I.A.N). Singapore’s inclination toward abbreviations is common knowledge, as just about every expressway, bank, Government body, school, college, commercial complex etc. eases into a coinage of truncated verbiage.

The colloquial speak eventually finds a way into it being ‘the brand name’. The latest entry into the Abridged Book of Convenience (ABC) being YOG - The ‘Youth Olympic Games’.

One could argue that the official name is still the full form of it, however the fact that the commonly spoken and written depiction is YOG, would suggest otherwise. Now, when you probably have the greatest sporting event engrained in a ‘name’ i.e. ‘Olympic’, why should you strip the magnificence that it represents into a set of cold, hollow and meaningless letters.

On the contrary, the meaning of the word ‘Olympic’ should have been heightened.

This is not really about just abbreviating an institution, or about it being a Singaporean obsession. The larger question being- ‘Should convenient condensing of brand names arise without any apparent reason?’

Queensland and Northern Territories Air Service, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, Victor Company of Japan, International Business Machines Corporations, Bayerische Motoren Werke alias QANTAS, 3M, JVC, IBM, BMW respectively, had both reason and wisdom to rename themselves from descriptive, industrial institutes into initials that grew into multi-billion dollar brands.

Heritage does have a role, and in my view a brand needs to earn an acronym and by that I mean GE and LG, having successfully built their equity have the license to be known by an initial should they so choose.

Occasionally though, brand initials can run the risk of allowing for the world to hijack it into undesired territory based on their unfavourable actions for e.g. Beyond Petroleum (BP) and Government Motors (GM). A move to change into one could sacrifice its equity. Hence let Harley Davidson always be Harley Davidson.

Some brands have had other reasons such as KFC -be it the Kentucky taxes or the implications of ‘Fried’ in a world getting healthier. Removing some baggage, bridging language barriers, changing an offering or renewing meaning from when the brand started to its current avatar can legitimize an acronym. Though, initializing an already existing acronym such as YMCA into Y, one could ask Y?

I don’t personally dismiss acronyms but there are limits and at times it does rob the brand of potentially positive emotions and YOG being one such example. Keeping Mother Teresa Charitable Trust intact as against MTCT would be preferred.

Today, when one is tasked of creating a fresh brand name it would be advisable to keep it simple, meaningful and acronym-proof. Some may not agree and say FCUK, whilst St. Thomas University of Public International Diplomacy might just concur.

Mohit Gopaldas is managing director, Identity Counsel Brand Consultants