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Building National Brandafter WTO

Building National Brandafter WTO

An Interview with Mr. Nguyen Thanh Tan – President of BrainMark Vietnam

After Vietnam joined the WTO, what do you comment on the national branding activities of our country compared to before?

What most of us realize is that after Vietnam joined the WTO, we were well aware that the national competition environment has changed a lot. The national competitive environment changes in the way that global consumers as well as domestic consumers will have more opportunities to choose, thus forcing us to create new vitality for the national brand.

A series of large national branding forums were held after we joined the WTO. Specific programs within the framework of the national branding strategy were launched: “The national branding programs directed by government through the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the program to promote Vietnam tourism on CNN, … More than ever, from the Government to the Ministry of Industry and companies are also aware of  the role of building Vietnam’s national brand in the international market



Enter into the specific activities, according to you, how far is the effectiveness of the national brand promotion campaign of Vietnam reached to? For example, advertising on the CNN channel, Nha Trang beach festival, launching vote for Ha Long Bay … has it really made a mark for the national brand? Compared with the campaigns of neighboring countries like Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia … What do you have any comment on this?

Regarding the specific programs of the tourism industry, it is difficult to immediately say the concrete results in terms of data, because the need for surveys and feedback through the target visitors to Vietnam has increased to meet expectations. However, it can be said that through the above programs we have created a good image in the minds of international visitors, especially to increase the awareness of the national brand.

As for effective branding for the national brand, in my opinion, our programs are currently incomplete in terms of consistency. We still have not done as well as neighboring countries such as Singapore or Thailand.  Since building a brand, especially a national brand, we do not need to start with big-scale programs in localities that we should first come back to the positioning of the Vietnamese national brand on the global brand scale. In particular, how do we want outsiders to understand Vietnam … If Singapore is the country of service, Japan is the country of high quality products … then as what  is Vietnam considered by foreigners ? In order to answer this question, in my opinion, we must define our strengths and differences. This should be thought and selected before we develop specific action plans.

Just like branding for a business, branding the country is not just merely advertising. Therefore, the promotion of the image of Vietnam on the television channel is only a move to create the “surface” recognition, while building the image of Vietnam in the minds of world friends or not is to need necessary steps in general.

As a leading brand expert in Vietnam, what do you think we need to do to build a strong national brand like other countries in the region?

The national image is built only when all walks of society have heart and ambition to build the country. In particular, the subject must be must responsible for is the Government which should  map out a good strategy for national branding journey in the perception of global consumers or foreign investors.

In order to build a strong national brand name, I think we should focus on doing the following:

Firstly, the positioning of the Vietnamese national brand must be clearly defined. In order to position, in my opinion, we must clearly define the strengths and differences of Vietnam. At the same time determine who wewant to target,? global consumers or foreign investors or both or anyone else, Then the message should also be specific, suitable for each object. It is suggested that Vietnam should be a country with beautiful coastline, unique culinary backgrounds, attractive eco-tourism models … All are possible, but before repositioning the national image, we have to carefully consider and select for a consistent and loyal strategy. Each country has many strengths, but we must know the “sacrifice” to choose the unique points that neighboring countries are not focused on and this is what global consumers expect.

Secondly, building action programs under the brand strategy. Once identifying who we are, then these  messages need to be communicated to the outside with specific action programs. At this time, it is necessary to have a total plan for each branch and each division in the country. From the program of the tourism industry, commercial sector to business sector, to every citizen, … every object in the national branding strategy needs to understand their role in this strategy. All these tasks are chaired and launched by the Government

In terms of communication, we have a lot of means to do this, but it is most effective to let global consumers or foreign investors talk about Vietnam. This is also one way of effectively communicating national brands through international experiences with Vietnam, when they came to Vietnam, where they lived, what they consumed.

It should be added that some say that Vietnam should implement the program “every citizen is a messenger”. This is perfectly correct in theory, but to be realistic it is not easy because it is difficult to make all people think the same. Actually, all acts of a citizen can hurt the image of the country, such as lack of civility in public, littering, quality of export products are unqualified, to implement the mission “ each person is a messenger”, requiring the government to have a program to train people through the mass media(as Singapore did).

Building a national image is not the responsibility of one person, but it should be stressed that the lead role and direction belong to the Government. When arriving in Vietnam, Philip Kotle suggested that Vietnam should have a Marketing Minister, (or National Trade Minister) who would be responsible for planning the branding strategy and national brand development projects and also responsible for overseeing the brand image of Vietnam on the global brand scale while proposing to the Government appropriate investment steps and budgets  according to actual situation of Vietnam.

To build successfully a national brand, the role of the business team can not be ignored. According to you, in addition to responsibilities of management levels, what do Vietnamese businesses need to do?

It must be said that the business sector contributed greatly to the national branding process, referring to Sony people think of Japan, referring to Nokia people think of Finland, referring to Singapore Airline people think of Singapore, … A strong national brand must include many strong corporate brands. And if there is strong national brand, it will be very convenient for Vietnamese enterprises to conquer the world market, gradually implement the dream of global business brand. High quality exported products will greatly contribute to the image of the country. The Japanese have been very successful in building a national image by this method. It is the responsibility of each enterprise to build and protect its brand and protect the brand of the Vietnamese business community, because when a batch of exported goods is returned not only hurt the business but also hurt the national brand

National brand is a combination of many factors such as national image, national standardization system, national prestige and national product quality. We have implemented the national branding program labeled on each product. This is essential, but not sufficient. National branding should not only focus on the corporate brand but also on other community-oriented programs. The aspirations of building a global brand of some Vietnamese enterprises, in my opinion, are very encouraging. This high aspiration is the basis of effective action programs to be implemented in the coming time

Thank you Sir