[FOUNTAIN]An oval stars, but Korea’s brand is dim

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[FOUNTAIN]An oval stars, but Korea’s brand is dim

Coca-Cola is the most recognized global brand. Both Interbrand, a global brand consultancy, and Businessweek say it is also the world’s most valued brand. According to a survey, the brand has shed 4 percent of its value this year, but at 67.4 billion dollars, it still occupies first place in value rankings, as it has for several years.
What counts more, quality or brand? Brand experts say that the brand is more important as long as the quality is not strikingly different. The case in point is the fiasco of New Coke in 1985. Pepsi was encroaching on the Coca-Cola’s dominance of the market with its “Pepsi Challenge,” an advertisement campaign that had consumers drink both brands blindfolded. Made nervous by Pepsi’s aggression, Coca-Cola developed a new Coke version.
After conducting the same blindfold test, Coca-Cola was confident that New Coke tasted better than Pepsi, and with the introduction of New Coke to the market, Coca-Cola suspended production of its existing drink. The outcome was disastrous, and a few months later Coca-Cola decided to return to its old formula and named it Coca-Cola Classic. Coca-Cola returned to be the unchallenged leader of the cola market. Its brand image, accumulated over a century, was the difference.
Brand image does not only apply to companies but also to countries. Switzerland has an image of peace and France is known for its rich art. Japan effectively revamped its national brand. Up until the 1950s, American cartoons depicted Japanese as bucktoothed samurai. In order to change the image, Japan invited American cartoonists to learn about the country and made huge investments in the American cartoon industry. The efforts paid off.
With the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Korea’s image changed from “shanty villages and refugees” to the “miracle on the Han River.” But soon the industrialized image was replaced by one of ubiquitous labor strikes and demonstrations. The latest image is the emergence of a leftist government.
According to the Interbrand’s survey, Samsung’s brand value increased from 10.8 billion dollars to 12.5 billion dollars in the past year and jumped from 25th place to 21st, chasing Sony in 20th place. But the country’s brand image remains lagging and has not improved.

by Lee Se-jung

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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