5 tips from the region’s top CEOs on how to create a strong brand
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Every year, some of the world’s top CEOs gather at the Forbes CEO Global Conference to discuss various topics and learnings in the business industry.
On Wednesday, November 30, top CEOs from the region discussed building brand power and how they’ve kept their brands strong over the years and with the dawn of technology.
The panel consisted of MNC Media CEO David Fernando Audy; Chairman of Cirque du Soleil Mitch Garber; ONE Championship Chairman Chatri Sityodtong; CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) Richard Solomons; President and CEO of Nippon Indosari Corpindo Wendy Yap; and Chairman and CEO of Ayala Corporation, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.
Here are their top 5 tips on how to build and strengthen brands.
1. Remain relevant
Zobel de Ayala said that the most important thing for the Ayala brand was to be open to change. He said Philippine-based Ayala Corporation – which has a diverse portfolio including real estate, banking, and telecommunications – used to be aligned to the premium market, but he said he began to worry “that we were becoming irrelevant at a price point that could only touch a small amount of the community.” In response, they began to “transform our image.”
“We saw ourselves in a dynamic way but the public didn’t. We’ve begun to transform our brand promises, to adjust to a broader market than what we had originally,” he said.
While he admitted it wasn’t easy and that it “took a whole new mindset and a rebranding,” it was important to “revisit a customer base that is constantly changing,” and to shift accordingly.
“Nothing is ever static and if you get married to a proposition at a specific point and time, that begins to grow old fast in this day and age.”
2. Be specific to your customer
Along the same trend, Yap, who runs Indonesia's largest bread producer, said there must always be “willingness to change and renew a product.”
“You have to be sustainable. To be sustainable, you need to have differentiation of the product constantly,” she said.
Yap said it was important to always be differentiated from the other offerings in the market. To do this, she said, “you need to adapt to the consumer.”
Yap’s company is eyeing an expansion to the Philippines and while Indonesia and the Philippines are largely the same culture-wise, she said “it is still slightly different,” and that small difference is key.
Thus, she said it was important they partnered with a business that has known the Philippines for over 35 years.
Solomons echoed this view, saying that in the hotel industry, “consumers have very similar needs as a base, but that we identified in China in particular there was a demand to have a Chinese brand of hospitality.”
He said “Asian hospitality is very specific how you meet people, greet people, and treat VIPs.” For example, he said bars are less important in Asian hotels than in Western ones, and that private restaurants are more highly valued.
Solomons emphasized the importance of localizing and meeting the specific needs of various customers.
3. Build a relationship with your customers
Solomons also highlighted IHG’s loyalty program, which he felt set them apart from others, including those disrupting the hospitality industry like Airbnb.
He says beyond rewards, they use the loyalty program “to really create a community,” which they stay in touch with constantly and make them feel like they are “part of a club.”
“It’s a very powerful tool for any brand. We’ve grown shares hugely because loyalty program is a very important way to attract, retain and talk to your customers,” he said.
4. Never stray from your values
Despite these constant adjustments a brand must make however, the CEOs also agreed that the one thing that must never be changed are a company’s core values.
“Stick with your values and your beliefs,” said Sityodtong, the multimillionaire entrepreneur behind a Singapore-based MMA promotion company. “You have to be very consistent in your values not just in good times but in every cycle. Those are things you don’t touch.”
He said it was important to differentiate these from what is adjustable.
“What you can adjust are brand propositions. As long as you stay true to your values. You can tweak the value propositions and increase it or decrease it based on the marketplace.”
“But you don’t want to lose yourself and stray from your values.”
5. Don’t give up
Garber meanwhile shared his learnings from the entertainment business and said for Cirque du Soleil to remain relevant, they are looking to partner with live entertainment businesses to “synergize” with.
He said Cirque du Soleil’s expertise in logistics from touring around the world, as well as its artistic experience, can be beneficial for a live entertainment business – whose expertise would be beneficial to them too.
He said this was a solution on how to keep their relevance in the entertainment history. Quitting was not an option.
Garber said he has also learned a thing or two from president-elect Donald Trump, who went from businessman to politician successfully.
“The lesson is to not give up,” he said.
“Keep fighting for your relevance in the industry and give equal effort in keeping your integrity.” – Rappler.com
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