Elevating the core values of the national brand


National brand to helps local businesses extend international reachNational brand to helps local businesses extend international reach
Vietnam needs to cook up stronger global rice brandVietnam needs to cook up stronger global rice brand
Elevating the core values of the national brand
A rice packaging line for export to the European Union by a Vietnamese enterprise.

The gap in brand imprinting

Rice is one example. Despite being among the top countries in rice export volume, the Vietnamese rice brand remains quite faint in many markets worldwide. The Philippines is Vietnam’s largest rice export market. Yet, the sad story of Vietnam’s rice industry in this market is the lack of Vietnamese rice brand presence.

Mr. Phung Van Thanh, Vietnam’s Trade Counselor in the Philippines, reports that although Vietnam exports a lot of rice to the Philippines and the Filipino people consume a lot of Vietnamese rice, it seems that Philippine importers “do not trust much or something,” so the bags of Vietnamese rice are never labeled as prominently as those from Japan or Thailand.

Previously, when Filipino consumers thought of rice, they thought of rice from Thailand and Japan, although they consumed Vietnamese rice, they did not rate it highly. This poses the problem of branding so that when Vietnamese rice enters the supermarket channels of the Philippines, or at rice retail stores in the Philippines, they can proudly display the “Vietnamese Rice” sign. This would be better for the rice production and business industry in Vietnam.

Vietnam is consistently recognized as one of the most dynamic and open economies in the world, becoming the fourth-largest economy in ASEAN and the 40th globally. According to the assessment by Brand Finance, a leading brand valuation consultancy, the national brand of Vietnam grew 102% from 2019-2023. The national brand value in 2023 reached $498.13 billion, an increase of 15.6% compared to 2022 and has continuously grown by double digits over the past five years, ranking 33rd in the top 121 strong national brands globally. Elevating these core values is not only about promoting economic development but also about building corporate culture, constructing a fair society, and sustainable development.

In recent years, Vietnamese enterprises have made significant progress in building and developing brands, thereby enhancing the competitiveness of their products, attracting investment, and developing foreign trade. However, Vietnam’s economy still faces many practical challenges such as unsustainable export strategies, international trade disputes over branding beyond the resolution capacity of a single enterprise, industry, or locality, the shift in export structure towards increasing the proportion of processed industrial products and reducing the proportion of raw materials is still not clear, the added value in products is still not high, and one of the weak reasons is about the brand.

Building a brand tied to the story

From the business perspective, Mr. Le Duc Nghia, Chairman of the Board of Directors of An Cuong Wood Company, stated that the market is recovering this year, and the export of wood products also shows many positive signs. Currently, An Cuong’s factory has export orders until the end of November, and domestically until the end of the third quarter of 2024.

With two main markets being the USA accounting for 85% and Japan for 15% of export orders, An Cuong Company is aiming to expand to Canada. To have a standing and success in the market, the initial orientation of An Cuong is not to do processing. Therefore, the company is very active in participating in fairs abroad, and also organizes business delegations from the USA to visit An Cuong’s factory to directly connect orders and develop the brand. If exporting under the company’s brand, the profit is very good, otherwise, if doing processing, the profit will not be sustainable. Specifically, if doing self-export, the profit will range from 8-10%, but if doing processing, the profit is only from 2-3% or even break-even if not well managed. To be successful, the enterprise must focus more on marketing, actively promoting brand development.

Dr. Abel D. Alonso, a senior lecturer in International Business at RMIT University Vietnam, believes that enterprises can build brands based on added value, enhancing perceived value through core positive values, suitable for the target audience. This solution can be implemented in various ways such as: product quality, services, corporate social responsibility, customer experience… He said that large Vietnamese enterprises are integrating and elevating core values in brand-building activities more strategically. However, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) still have room for improvement. According to a report by the OECD from 2021, SMEs account for 96% of the total number of enterprises, employ 47% of the workforce, and contribute 36% of the added value to the nation in Vietnam.

According to Mr. Abel D. Alonso, building a brand can be done through storytelling and continuous communication on social media, emphasizing features and emotional values of the product. Maintaining a strong brand presence at events and through networking activities is also an effective approach. Another way to build a brand is to elevate the product to a new level. For example, a coffee production unit can grow sustainable coffee, run accommodation services at the farm, organize tourism activities related to coffee, or share stories about the farmers.

Mr. Abel D. Alonso believes that the general rule is that enterprises must transmit memorable experiences, images, and stories, and at the same time, provide consistently high-quality products and services that demonstrate that actions speak louder than words.

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Sinh Nhat Tan, in an era of rapid change and increasingly fierce competition with the support of technology and artificial intelligence, core values become more important than ever. They are unchangeable principles, a guide for our actions, and the foundation for us to build and develop the brand of each enterprise, each locality in particular, and the nation in general. To build and develop the brand effectively, it is necessary to identify outstanding core values. The brand must be associated with differentiation.


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