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singapore-business-database

Branding For Success

Distinctive brands are more than mere identifiers of origin and source for a business. They have evolved to become living emotional relationships with the buying public. More importantly, you can derive revenue straight to the bottomline through franchising and licensing of your brand.

We Are Where The Action Is

The Asia-Pacific is one of the fast growing regions in the world. This phenomenal growth is fuelled, in no small measure, by the rapid globalisation of business and the increasing awareness and deployment of intellectual property (IP) strategies as engines for commercial and economic growth. For the modern business today, success no longer hinges on just its ability to manage physical assets but on how its IP is maximised for commercial gain.

For Singapore, what this means is that our businesses have to work even harder and smarter to stay competitive. More importantly, we would need to overcome the constraints of our small domestic market by increasingly venturing into overseas markets.

This is where a strong IP entrepreneurial culture among our businesses is essential and they will have to start with the right brand protection strategy. They will need to understand the terrain in new markets, develop brand identities that best connect with those markets and deploy protection strategies to secure their market share.

Why Branding Is Important

Distinctive brands are more than mere identifiers of origin and source for a business. They have evolved to become living emotional relationships with the buying public. More importantly, you can derive revenue straight to the bottomline through franchising and licensing of your brand.

For 2004, according to a report by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the top ten global brands accounted for over S$647 billion in value. In Singapore, the 15 most valuable brands are estimated to be worth S$8.1 billion in 2004 compared to S$7.9 billion in 2003 (source: IE Singapore). In 2005, the value of the 15 most valuable brands in Singapore is S$9.5 billion.

Promoting Branding

That is why the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) together with other economic agencies and industry partners, have embarked on a concerted effort to promote branding as an effective business internationalisation strategy.

In recent years, quite a few innovative brands have emerged in Singapore. Brands like Banyan Tree, Eu Yan Sang, Chng Kee's, BreadTalk, Ya Kun and the like, are brazing the trail and making their mark in the regional and international markets. However, a lot more needs to be done. A survey commissioned by IE Singapore in 2003 revealed that half of the 100 local companies surveyed still associated branding with just the "name" or "identity" of their products. It was also found that over 60% of the small companies surveyed had vague or no branding strategies at all.

Realising this educational gap in the market, IPOS has structured its outreach efforts to help businesses better harness their IP potential. There is a team of IPOS officers on the ground, proactively engaging our local businesses, walking them through the IP value chain (see 'IP Value Chain' sidebox). Invariably, the focus will be on trade marks as they are the most common form of IP assets that a company would own and through which to develop and grow.

Besides working with the businesses directly, awareness of the importance of branding is also created via IPOS' programmes for the education sector. We have organised national trademark competitions for schools to provide hands-on experience for these 'entrepreneurs-to-be' to get savvy with branding concepts early on. We have also introduced branding as part of the judging criteria for various business plan competitions organised by our Institutes of Higher Learning e.g. the Nanyang Technology University's Business Plan Competition last year and the National University of Singapore Entrepreneurship Centre's "Start-up @ Singapore" Competition 2005.

In addition, Singapore businesses can constantly be kept informed on the latest in branding through annual branding forums and awards ceremonies such as the Global Brand Forum, the Global Franchising and Licensing Exhibition and Conference, and the Singapore Promising Brand Awards.

IPOS has also taken steps to ensure that our trademark regime is up to the mark to stay relevant in this highly competitive business landscape. Changes to the law that came into effect last July include the following:

    * the removal of the requirement that a trade mark must be visually perceptible. Businesses here are now free to innovate in using unconventional marks e.g. unique sounds to brand themselves in the market place,
    * better protection for well-known marks and improved remedies in civil actions by trade mark owners including the introduction of statutory damages to ease the burden of proving actual damages, and
    * strengthening border enforcement measures by giving more powers to our enforcement officers to take immediate action if they defect any counterfeit goods in the course of their duties.