[Viewpoint] A question of national brand loyalty

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[Viewpoint] A question of national brand loyalty

Iwas quite proud when I saw the news from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on television earlier this month. Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics’ booths garnered the attention of the international media and were crowded with visitors, once again confirming the glorious accomplishment these Korean companies have made on the international stage.

As the Korean economy grows, the brand value of Korean companies has been elevated greatly. Compared to the all-time No. 1 brand, Coca-Cola, Samsung Electronic’s brand value rose from 9 percent in 2001 to 25 percent last year. Samsung Electronics became the first Korean company to be ranked in the top 10. In only four years since it first appeared in the rankings, Hyundai Motor jumped 15 places and was ranked at 69th place, according to the global branding consulting company Interbrand.

Greater brand value means greater possibility to create profit and added value, so I truly celebrate the accomplishment of the Korean companies. A country with many valuable brands is promised a stable and constant economic growth.

Where does the brand value come from? A brand, which consists of simply a name and a logo, becomes powerful when it captures the consumer psychology. The brand values of Coca-Cola, IBM and Disney originate from the long history of consumers treasuring and using the brand over decades. Unlike products that enjoy brief popularity or temporary vogue, the brands beloved around the world for generations have built their reputations on trust.

Consumers do not easily bestow value on just any brand. Consumers like brands that offer reasonably priced goods with outstanding performance and great design and continue to introduce innovative and creative products. Moreover, consumers trust the brands of companies that keep their promises, sincerely respond to complaints and refrain from exaggerated advertising or marketing. No matter how good a company’s product might be, if the company is not honest, consumers will not trust the brand. The essence of brand trust is the consumers’ belief that the company will continue to produce outstanding products in an ethical and sincere fashion.

Trust might sound too grand, but our daily lives are built on trust. At every small and big moment of decision, we resort to trust even when we don’t realize it.

For example, when a friend asks to borrow money and promises to pay it back in a month, what would you do? It is not immediately certain that you will actually get the money back. Your mind considers two things: Does he have the ability to pay you back? Was he honest when he said he would? When you have to predict the future and make a decision in an uncertain situation, trust plays a critical role. After all, trust is the belief for the future.

The glorious performance by the Korean companies makes me think about out country. How would Korea score in the national brand trust? The Republic of Korea is highly capable. Its rapid economic growth has been benchmarked by many other developing countries, and Korea’s semiconductor technology is one to two years ahead of the industry, with a series of new products that are first in the world. It is amazing that there are so many world-class artists and athletes among the population of 50 million. Koreans are known for work ethics and technical caliber, and I am confident that Korea will only be wealthier and more powerful in the future.

However, what about the morality of the Korea brand? Can you trust the promise of an aspiring politician to work like a servant for the region’s prosperity and the people’s well-being? Do you believe it when a politician pleads in tears that he has never taken a bribe and has never been involved in corruption? It is regrettable that the government announces long-contemplated policies only to be met with the solemn distrust of the citizens. The lack of trust hinders capable politicians from displaying their full capabilities and keeps good policies from being implemented.

Do we want to enhance Korea’s brand value? Then we can start by building the trust of the nation’s people by restoring political morality.

*The writer is a professor of psychology at Korea University.
Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff

by Sung Young-shin
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