Samsung defies disasters to remain Asia’s top brand

Neither exploding mobile phones nor a management corruption scandal were enough to topple South Korea’s Samsung from retaining first place in Asia’s Top 1000 brands, announced by Campaign Asia Pacific today.

Samsung was one of only four Asian-headquartered brands to make the top 10, which is compiled by Neilsen from online surveys conducted in March across 13 Asian markets.  Japan’s Sony and Panasonic came in at number 3 and 5 respectively, while South Korea’s LG came in at number 7.

International brands were led by Apple (2nd), Nestle (4th), Nike (6th), with and Chanel, Adidas and Coca-Cola rounding out the top ten.

Fellow brandthropologists were particularly eager to see just how robust Samsung’s brand would be, after its reputation was hit by the botched product recall of the Galaxy Note 7, and the corruption scandal in South Korea that engulfed some of its senior leadership.

[Quick recap: several of Samsung’s flagship mobile phone caught fire soon after launch last year.  The company recalled and replaced the phone globally… only to have the replacements also catch fire.  The phones were again recalled and attempts to relaunch the model abandoned, at a cost of $5B.  Then, in February this year, the acting head of Samsung was arrested in connection with the corruption and influence-peddling scandal that toppled the country’s impeached president.]

Despite the scandals, Samsung was again considered the top brand in Asia – the sixth time year running that it has attained this honour.  Campaign Asia attributed the brand’s resilience to “a confluence of internal and external factors (which) have all played a part in ensuring the brand’s reputation has resolutely endured an abysmal nine months”.

Once the root cause of the Note 7 fires was identified, Samsung acted swiftly and effectively, with the complete and unconditional withdrawal and subsequent killing of the troubled product.  That was followed by an unconditional apology, part of transparent communications strategy in which the company acknowledged its fault, thoroughly investigated and reported to the public where it had gone wrong, and even employed independent researchers to conduct third-party tests.

A significant advertising campaign launched last February on battery safety and innovation also helped the company reassure consumers.

It’s clear now that Samsung was able to draw a comprehensive line under the incident and move forward.  However, despite the apparent success of their recovery strategy, their former acting head of brand, Lee Jae-yong, is still awaiting trial for alleged corruption charges.

Campaign Asia said the successful launch of the Galaxy S8, and that no rival opportunists stepped in to fill the void left by the Galaxy Note 7, also helped Samsung maintain its position.


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