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SL should focus on exports, global branding: Al Ries


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  • Global branding guru says Govt. must keep out of biz and vice versa for country to be more economically successful

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By Charumini de Silva

World-renowned branding guru and positioning expert, Al Ries yesterday said that small economies like Sri Lanka should focus on greater exports by building global brands.

Delivering the keynote at the 15th CIM Annual Conference held in Colombo under the theme of ‘Positioning and Branding for the Future’, Reis said a county does not get rich by selling things inside the country but by selling things to people in other countries.

Explaining why a small country like Singapore was relatively rich, Ries said: “Despite the fact that Singapore has a small population of 5 million, the country is doing business worldwide. With a GDP of $ 375 billion, Singapore exports $ 436 billion which is 116% of the GDP. However, in Sri Lanka with a population of 22 million and a GDP of $ 135 billion, exports account for $10 billion which is only 7% of the GDP.”  To be economically successful, Ries suggested that Sri Lanka should focus on improving this 7% of GDP to 116% like Singapore. He said global brands and global marketing can do the same for Sri Lanka but the country needed to focus on exports.

He also suggested keeping the Government away from the business and keeping the business world away from the State, would help countries to be more economically successful.

 

“After suffering for decades from government controls, China and India have a adopted free-market policy. Today, China is more of a free market than the US. China today has a very large and dynamic market. It is the world’s largest market and their average annual growth is 10.5%, compared to 1.2% in the US. The second-fast growing country is India with an average growth of 7.7%. Both these countries kept their Government out of business.”
Al Ries first rose to fame through a series of articles on a new concept called ‘Positioning’, authored by him and Jack Trout in Advertising Age. The positioning idea took the advertising world by storm and was voted by AdAge as one of the most important advertising ideas of the past 75 years.
Highlighting one of the key problems in marketing today, Ries said everybody wants to expand when the real opportunity is in the opposite direction.
Ries said that businesses must always strive to be the leader in anything they do and asserted that expanding the business also weakened the strength of a brand hence he suggested that narrowing the focus would eventually strengthen the brand.
Al Ries was joined by his daughter and business partner Laura Ries. British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris graced the event as its Guest of Honour.
Dauris said marketing could play a pivotal role in building and positioning the country’s image. He also said businesses and CIM should look at ways of using marketing to build a better image for countries.
The CIM Annual Conference will see full day’s sessions today with a host of experts at the BMICH.
Top business members of the calibre of former Chairman of Unilever Sri Lanka and Director of John Keells Holdings Plc Amal Cabraal, Chairman of Hemas Holdings Husein Esufally , Chairman of Jetwing Hotels Hiran Cooray, Chairman of the Siddhalepa Group Asoka Hettigoda, Managing Director of Mlesna Anslem Perera and Managing Director of Sarva Integrated Chrishantha Jayasinghe will be discussing ‘How to future proof Sri Lankan brands’ and ‘How to nurture and develop a Sri Lankan Brand’.
During the technical sessions on 12 May topics such as ‘Positioning brands in the digital era’, ‘How to future proof brands’, ‘Building a brand with a visual hammer and a verbal nail’  and ‘Positioning strategies in a crowded consumer mind’ would be presented and discussed today at the CIM conference.

 


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