In a recent article, the Financial Times argues that the next big brands are likely to come from Asia, not Europe or the US. They might be right, but their logic suggests they don't really understand branding. The article talks about Burberry opening a new store in Singapore, its sixth, with the suggestion being that brands who want to be successful in the future are going to have to dominate Asia. While it's true that Asia is a key market and the consumer population alone makes them crucial for brands, what the writer doesn't seem to get is that successful brands today are built on much more than just opportunity. They are built on possessing a rich understanding of their customers, on knowing how to weave into their lifestyles, on employing conversation-worthy customer service, and on "getting it" when others don't.
Asia has a huge population, which gives them purchasing power and the ability to manufacture goods cheaply. But brands built just on manufacturing and distribution are the ones who are struggling. They are the past. The future will be dominated by brands built on marketing. And let me be clear, I mean marketing, not advertising — on giving people real reasons to care about them. And they might come from anywhere.