Good country branding helps country brands

At a Masterclass this week in Manila, I looked at how a good country positioning will benefit the brands from that market – if they play their cards right.

On Tuesday, I held a CEO Masterclass in Manila’s Tower Club called “Asian Sunrise – How to build a winning brand in the Philippines”.

The class, hosted by the excellent advertising-magazine ADOBO under the leadership of Angel Guerrero, saw about 40 business leaders from MNCs, SMEs, Entrepreneurs, Media, Fashion, Hospitality.

After a more general introduction of branding and some of the latest trends we have observed in the Asia region, together with some learnings in changes to consumer behaviour during a crisis, I took a closer look at country branding, starting with my BBC Interview on the morning after the Olympics. Big events like these can do wonders for awareness and perception of a country brand – but if you don’t have them, a great campaign can make up for it.

Zooming in on the Philippines, I sang the praises for the “It’s more fun in the Philippines”-campaign because it’s differentiated (from other countries), relevant (speaking both to external audiences and the Filipinos) and certainly credible (not pretending that the country is perfect, but highlighting a truth about the Pinoy spirit of seeing a silver lining in the most dire circumstances, and by offering itself to spoofs by ordinary citizens). So how does that positioning help established or up-and-coming Filipino brands?

Internally, I identified “Pinoy Pride” as a strong driver for brand preference; in the latest Readers Digest brand survey of the country, many categories are led by local brands. Filipinos seem to like local brands if they have some connection to local culture, especially in the areas of design and fashion.

Externally, the Filipino spirit finds its expression in the people; it is no coincidence that so many service positions all over Asia are taken up by Pinoys. Their natural, optimistic friendliness, good looks together with an excellent command of English, make them a natural fit for our growing service economy.

This is where country branding and brand positioning of Filipino brands come together and create a synergy, in tune with the development of markets, that will be hard to beat.