In my previous post I referred to David Brook’s NY Times article on American superiority over China in creating global brands. nytimes.com. The article elicited a response from Jim Eiche, one of my instructors in the Masters of Science program in Strategic Communications at Columbia. Working for D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, he managed their entire multi-brand relationship with P&G across fifteen Asian countries. His comments are insightful and instructive.
“I agree with Mr. Brooks, mostly. US brands do still dominate Interbrand’s widely-recognized ranking of the top 100 global brands. Right now, there is not a single Chinese brand on the list. But American brands cannot afford to be complacent. Already, Taiwan has created three big global tech brands that–although none in the top 100 yet–many, many consumers worldwide recognize (HTC, Acer, and Asus). Political complications between Taiwan and mainland China aside, Chinese culture has managed to bring those big brands to life around the globe. They are growing. An article from the People’s Daily, mainland China’s official state-controlled media outlet, cites 13 mainland Chinese brands that another 2012 ranking included in its top 100 global brand’s list: english.peopledaily.com . Many of the Chinese brands cited in the article are indeed huge, on par with global brands from other countries, but their customer bases still reside overwhelmingly within China. They have not expanded past their home country’s borders; they are not yet truly international. But there is little to stop them from expanding beyond China eventually. Looking back 20 years, I’m not sure many people would have imagined in 1992 that Samsung would ever reach #9 on Interbrand’s list, as it did in 2012. Or that South Korea would place two other brands in the top 100 (Hyundai and Kia). It’s certainly possible for a country learn over time how to create successful global brands. I would expect China to learn over time, too. Americans do hold the advantage today. But US brand leaders of the future will not be able to count on our “romantic advantage” forever. We’ll have to get better and better.”