Philippines – the Heart of Asia

Jul 06, 2010

How should the Philippines be branded and marketed? And what makes the Philippines different from the rest of the developing world?


"Awesome Philippines", the latest advertising campaign of the Philippines, positions itself as a destination for the thrill-seekers and music lovers.

Photo credit: meenageena


While such countries as India and Malaysia have easily branded themselves as “Incredible India” and “Malaysia, Truly Asia,” the Philippines struggles to find its identity, its past branding efforts largely ending as expensive advertising-driven promotions.

Country branding is a process long before it can be expressed into a slogan. It is about ownership. Wide-ranging interviews with people from all walks of life, from businessmen and academicians to the ordinary men and women on the street, revealed their easy familiarity with the concept of country branding in terms of pride and confidence. Getting the world to love and respect the Philippines, its people, and its products: they embraced it passionately as a cause worth fighting for, not a mere marketing gimmick.

Country branding entails patience and consistency. Unlike consumer brands that can afford to change slogans every few years, country branding requires persistence because it takes time to gain ground in the minds and hearts of the target audiences.


Culture and diplomacy

A country brand is created by a combination of a country’s culture and public diplomacy. Culture cannot be copied because it is uniquely linked to the country. Public diplomacy also helps define a country brand. Experience has shown that our perception of a country changes for the better because of one good friend or an encounter with an outstanding individual from that country.

When it is positive, the country brand adds value to practically everything associated with the country. A country brand serves as a defining ingredient to a country’s products and services and the way its people are perceived. Branding could help earn recognition for qualified Filipino professionals and workers, and generate added value to the country’s products.

Branding encourages local and foreign investments. Having strong and well-known export brands fosters confidence among companies and countries. At the same time, branding helps retain qualified workers or attract them back home.

Branding enables developing countries to escape the commodity trap, of being mere producers of raw materials that sell at very cheap prices. Producing branded products and services enables them to sell at higher prices and increase their profitability, and not just survive on increasingly tight margins

… Peter Drucker once identified China as the “brawn of Asia” given its manufacturing base; India as the “brains of Asia” with its high-end outsourcing and programming skills; and the Philippines as the “heart of Asia” with its strength in EQ-driven services. This view, however, does not account for Filipinos’ resilience, energy, and professionalism.


Read the rest of the story here.


This post was originally published on thePinoy in May 2010. Junie del Mundo also blogs at planetphilippines.

(The author is managing director of EON, The Stakeholder Relations Firm. Reprinted from Philippine Business, a publication of the Makati Business Club.)