What does our brand stand for?
a view from
Marketing director, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, Lenovo
Asia is one of the world's leading growth markets at the moment, and we at Lenovo are right at the sharp end of that, experiencing not only the exciting opportunities that come from being a fast-growing Asian brand, but also the communication challenges this can create.
The rise of the IdeaPad
Founded in 1994, in 2005 we acquired IBM’s PC division. While the Thinkpad has long been a leading brand in the business sector, since buying IBM’s consumer division and the subsequent 2008 launch of the IdeaPad, we have been building our reputation for innovation, reliable technology and overall product quality in the consumer sector.
This has recently borne fruit as we have risen to become the world’s number two PC company in the quarter ending August 2011. Following five quarters as the fastest-growing of the world’s top PC vendors, the preliminary IDC data reports we achieved record market share of approximately 13.7% and record quarterly shipment volume of approximately 12.6 million units.
Aiming for the top
The Asian consumer market is a key growth area for us. One of the greatest challenges involved in communicating a brand across Asia is that it is so diverse. There are mature markets like Japan, and emerging markets in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The way people see our brand in Tokyo could be very different to how people see it in Jakarta.
Yet it is imperative that we succeed in communicating our brand. Now we are in the second spot, we want to reach the top. We will only achieve this if we communicate a brand that people know about and follow. We need to stand for something important and meaningful. As a brand we have to be consistent yet surprising. At the end of the day, we must achieve relevance and resonance with our customers.
One of the greatest challenges involved in communicating a brand across Asia is that it is so diverse.
From challenger to power
In other words, we need to evolve ourselves from a ‘challenger brand’ into a ‘power brand’. To achieve this, a branding campaign needs to be more than a marketing initiative. It comes down to the single belief and mindset we have as a company, the culture, our behaviours, and the products or services we produce.
So, our latest branding campaign - “For Those Who Do” – aims to convey how we are becoming more than a technology company. We don’t just manufacture electronics; we are the company that powers the people who “DO”. The engine that helps them do more, do better, do what’s never been done before. Our greatest service is to develop the tools that make their work even greater.
What is more, to effectively communicate this across the vast Asian market we need to recognise its diversity and adapt accordingly. So, we are set up as Emerging Market Group and Mature Market Group. We apply the “For Those Who Do” campaign to both but deploy different tactics where appropriate.
Getting buy in
One key challenge to PR programmes is buy-in from the top management. Traditionally, the C-suites are well educated on the value of advertising, and it is fairly straightforward to draw the connection between ad spend and business growth. However, top executives sometimes struggle to see the true value of PR beyond crisis situations.
The rise of digital techniques is helping with this, and it is vital that we succeed. Furthermore, we need much more than a tactical campaign. We must align our mindset, culture and products. Our customers are people who see technology as a tool, not a badge to some cool club. They are impatient to get things done, and we need to have that mindset internally. That way, we will be able to produce ready-to-rock, sublimely functional personal technology.
An exciting place
There are certainly many challenges, but there are without doubt outweighed by the opportunities. The upside to being a challenger brand in Asia is huge. Not only is there such scope for growth – as our startling recent growth demonstrates – but we also get a license to portray ourselves as aspirational, to deliver an end result that truly resonates with our customers. That is a very exciting place to be.
Maintaining a consistent brand presence
a view from
Senior partner and CEO, international, Ketchum
As Cecilia pointed out, one of the biggest challenges for marketers in Asia is maintaining a consistent brand presence in a region that is anything but consistent.
The urban/rural challenge
Not only are there vast differences between mature markets like Japan, Australia and South Korea, high-growth markets like Singapore, and emerging markets like Indonesia and Malaysia, but there is great diversity within each market as well. For example, China and India have bustling urban centers, whose inhabitants are highly connected and have developed advanced technological skills. In contrast, those same countries have large populations that are far removed from their urban centers, and the needs of these types of consumers are very different than those residing in Beijing, Mumbai, Shanghai and Kolkata. And perhaps more so than any other region around the world, the Asia-Pacific region is highly fragmented not just on economic terms, but also in terms of language, religion, and cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Keeping up with many rules
In addition, the diverse political and economic landscape of the region’s countries also brings a considerable impact to marketers. Regulatory oversight for businesses and for media properties varies greatly from country to country – some markets have embraced free-market economies while others consist mainly of government-controlled corporations. Citizens of some countries enjoy a free flow of information while others experience censorship and state-sponsored propaganda.
It’s clear that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to reaching consumers in this massive, heterogeneous region
Leave the Western strategies at home
So what’s the takeaway here? It’s clear that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to reaching consumers in this massive, heterogeneous region. Global brands don’t have the luxury of taking a marketing strategy developed for North American or European markets and simply executing those plans in Asia. The diverse needs of consumers in the region dictates a much more localised approach to the messages and channels used to reach them. Marketers need to pinpoint the specific target audience and present their unique value proposition to that audience in a way that is relevant, accessible and understandable to them.
So if the key to reaching these consumers – on their terms, not the brand’s – is diversifying the marketing approach to appeal to the target audience on a local level, how does a brand maintain the consistency needed to turn its customers into brand enthusiasts, devotees and ambassadors?
Defining who you are
More than anything, maintaining a firm grasp on the company’s mission and values – and reinforcing those values through action – is imperative to building and sustaining that company’s overall reputation. While product messaging may differ according to the target consumer, what the brand stands for should always come through. I think the ideal scenario is that two very different consumers, say, a university student in Tokyo and a farmer in mainland China, may say completely different things about the benefits and features of their respective laptops, they both would come away with the same impression of Lenovo as a corporation – its attributes, its core values and its reputation.
Lenovo has the benefit of a slight halo effect in China, being a home-grown brand with a broad global presence. But through its broader “For Those Who Do” positioning and accompanying tailored approach to both emerging and mature markets, it has found that sweet spot that leads brands to success throughout the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. And I’m lucky enough to work with some of the most sophisticated marketers in the region, like Lenovo, who clearly recognise the importance of this localised approach.
Learning from each other
In my role as head of Ketchum’s international network, part of my job is to help our offices and affiliates take best practices from one part of the world and apply them in other markets to provide the best possible service for our clients. It is my hope that we can continue to partner with leading-edge brands like these as we apply these learnings to the next set of up-and-coming world economies – be it CIVETS, BRICKET or the Next Eleven – to increase the level of sophistication and effectiveness of our work and continue to move the industry forward.