5samsungIt won’t come as a surprise to anyone that Apple and Samsung are much loved brands, I decided to take a look at since the topic of the month is ‘branding”. As the smartphone giants’ battles have once again been heating up this year, I would like to highlight both companies’ branding success that comes along with all the media buzz.

According to Campaign Asia-Pacific's 2013 Asia's Top 1000 Brands report, Samsung is Asia’s No. 1 brand that topped the overall list, ahead of Apple and Sony in the second and third spots. Three more electronics brands, Panasonic, LG and Canon took the fourth, fifth and sixth places respectively, demonstrating Asia’s upbeat creed in technology.

But Samsung's leading position came at a price and has been achieved reportedly with an ad spend of $1.3bn across the region, almost twice as much as Apple and Sony combined. Even the Trust Research Advisory (TRA), that lists brands on the basis of their 'attraction quotient', declared Samsung Mobile the most attractive brand in India. However, as you can imagine, the attractiveness differs from region to region, depending on culture, habits, values and attitudes.

Nevertheless, as the world seems to shrink due to increasing connectivity, brands need to stay true to their roots and do so in ways that are “visionary, inspiring, bold and exciting” (VIBE), regardless of where their business venture takes place, Cultural Traction states on their website, and I absolutely agree. “In 2013, the battle between Apple and Samsung continued to take place on a global stage, both inside and outside of courtrooms. But what makes this turf fight particularly interesting”, Cultural Traction explains, “is the dependency these two titans have on one another. After all, Samsung is Apple’s biggest parts supplier, yet its fiercest competitor in the smartphone market. By year’s end, Apple was victorious on the legal front, but Samsung won on the main stage with consumers: Apple was the world’s No.1 company by market value, but Samsung was the world’s largest technology company by sales”.

With the growing popularity of smartphones, mobile has become a highly effective and convenient way to engage with consumers as more and more of them are searching the web on their mobile devices. Naturally, brands are increasingly investing in mobile sites that are optimized for smartphones to provide an enhanced user experience and tap on this ongoing trend.

It’s actually hard to believe that just a few short years ago people felt overwhelmed by tech gadgets, as today most people feel in control of and happily addicted to them, because they’ve found ways of adapting. But what’s now becoming increasingly important is a more human connection – not just between people, but between people and their machinery. And here it looks like Samsung has figured out what works best. “Take their pop-up shops known as “Pins” where the product experience is a communal and entertaining one, or the marketing campaign behind the Galaxy smartphone, positioning the device as ‘designed for humans’ and technology that ‘goes beyond smart and fulfills your needs by thinking as you think, acting as you act’, Cultural Traction elaborates. It’s almost so seamlessly integrated it feels natural, in an emergent way, rather than an extraneous, disconnected device.

Even the Samsung’s image clips have a strong focus on the human being and cultural diversity, which is an important factor for the right branding. Cultural Traction describes this phenomenon as: “Only culture tells you weather your brand has got it or lost it. Culture is the currency of all our conversations and it is in a constant state of flux. Great brands know this and invest in marketing to stay ahead of the conversation.”

In my opinion, Samsung manages better to speak a universal language being approachable and simply having a human touch in their brand philosophy, which is indispensable to perform well on the international stage.

Of course, that is probably just the image they want to spread, but it’s great branding, isn’t it?

By Daniela La Marca