Bizphere Brand & Marketing Group, an integrated brand and marketing management company which focuses on SME branding has released the findings of its online survey titled “ Malaysian SMEs’ Brand Potential”.
The objective of the survey was to gauge the branding challenges and potential of Malaysian SMEs to become a global brand.
The survey showed that while most SME brands are not well known, or possess low brand awareness locally, up to 62% of SME owners are confident that in five years their brand will known regionally or even globally.
Bizsphere head of SME Marketing Support Sherine Ho, belives that this is the mindset which is needed by SME owners seeking to prosper in the global market.
“Malaysian entrepreneurs have begun to recognize the importance of branding with the liliberalisation of the international market and intense and competition among local and incoming foreign brands it is just not enough to produce quality products. People buy a brand which relevant, differentiated and engaging.” Said Ho.
Most respondents in the survey were able to recall globall brand names with ease but found it hard to name Malaysian brand names especially the SMEs. In 20 seconds, respondents were able to name an average of 9.3 global brands but only 5.4 Malaysia SME brands.
The top five most mentioned Malaysian brand names were AirAsia, Proton, Petronas, Maxis and Maybank whilst Ramly Burger. Nelson’s Corn, OldTown, Secret Recipe and Ayam were the top five most mentioned Malaysian SME brands
It is an interesting fact that many brands have been mistaken as being local due to their regular presence in our daily lives. For example, many claim that Ayam is a Malaysian brand but the truth is, the brand is owned by Ayam SARL of France.
“Malaysian SMEs have what it takes to be global brands. In addition to trade, our government has done a lot to promote Malaysian SMEs as brands of quality, excellence and distinction which meet international standards. For example, The Malaysian Brand Certification Scheme or National Mark was launched in 2009 with a wide spectrum of benefits. Despite being heavily promoted, only 42% of SME owners are aware of this programme.” explained Ho.
Malaysia SME owners should be more pro-active in researching government support programmes which are relevant to them.
The survey also showed that the lack of a comprehensive brand plan and financial support for brand communications are two of the top challenges faced by Malaysian SME trying to brand themselves to the next level.
Bizphere associate consultant Erin Foong feels that these findings are not surprising, as every eight out of 10 SME owners she has met brand themselves on an ad-hoc basis with no proper strategy.
“Most entrepreneurs are communicating what they want to say instead of what their target customer would like to hear. As a financial support, the key is not how much budget you have: it is how best to allocate your resources to meet your key brand and business objectives.”
Eight percent of the respondents wanted to have dedicated personnel or a specific unit to take care of brand & marketing communications as well as an annual budget allocation for branding & promotions.
Foong says it is still a common practice among SME owners to priorities sales over branding. Branding therefore becomes something that an employee or department does on top of something else like sales.