Businesses need to tell their stories reflecting Vietnamese essence to international friends: Scholar

WVR - Talking to the World and Vietnam Report, Dr. Dang Thao Quyen (*) believes that with Vinfast's story, many businesses will dare to think big, be ambitious, and aspire to establish numerous Vietnamese brands in the international market.
TS. Đặng Thảo Quyên, Đại học RMIT. (Ảnh: MN)
Dr. Dang Thao Quyen, The Business School, RMIT Vietnam. (Photo: MN)

The Vietnam National Brand Program (NBP) was approved by the Prime Minister in 2003. It aims to develop national brands by supporting businesses in constructing and fostering strong brands within the economy. The goal was to promote Vietnam as a country of quality goods and services, establish credibility, and enhance competitiveness for Vietnamese enterprises in both domestic and international markets. As an economic expert, how do you assess the effectiveness and ripple effects of this program after 20 years of implementation?

After 20 years of implementing the NBP, we can see that the program has made significant impact both at the national and business levels.

In 2015, Vietnam’s national brand was ranked 47 out of 100 nations by Brand Finance. This is also the first time the London-based an international brand valuation organization put Vietnam on this list. By 2022, Vietnam had climbed 15 spots, securing the 32nd position in this ranking.

Regarding businesses, the increase from 50 enterprises listed between 2015 and 2022 to 100 in 2023 speaks volumes about the NBP’s extensive reach and impact.

More than 20 years ago, I believed that very few Vietnamese businesses understood or paid attention to brand building. Our focus was primarily on production, manufacturing, and short-term profitability.

However, after 20 years, the majority of companies have shifted their focus towards long-term development strategies. Building a brand, not only within the national market scope but also in the international market, has become a top priority for businesses. The Government has also shown significant interest in supporting enterprises throughout this process.

According to Brand Finance, Vietnam has witnessed consistent increase in terms of its national brand. In 2022, it ranked 32 out of 100. What significance does this value hold for Vietnamese businesses on their journey to expand into the international market?

The essence of a brand is its cumulative and expansive nature. Hence, the increased value of the Vietnam’s national brand and of the 100 Vietnamese enterprises doesn't just hold significance for those specific 100 enterprises; it also greatly benefits many other Vietnamese businesses on their path to winning over international customers.

For instance, with a Japanese brand, consumers automatically associate it with quality and reliability, even without prior knowledge of that specific brand. Similarly, the rise in value of Vietnam’s national brand is a positive indicator that Vietnamese brands are increasingly being highly valuated, fostering more goodwill among consumers. This serves as a favourable foundation for other Vietnamese businesses to step into the global arena.

In your opinion, in the past 20 years, how did national-branded Vietnamese businesses solidify their pioneering role, thus creating a ripple effect and guiding the domestic business community?

I personally believe that, in the past 20 years, Vietnamese national-branded firms has shown their significant role in inspiring and creating a ripple effect within the domestic business community. They've demonstrated that National Branding is a testament to a company's commitment to consumers. The evidence lies in the increasing number of businesses showing interest and participating in the NBP, rising from 30 enterprises in 2008 to 172 recognized in 2022.

From my observation, the NBP awards aren't solely bestowed upon longstanding, large corporations; they also recognize medium-sized and relatively new enterprises in the market. Considering that small and medium-sized enterprises make up around 97% of the total business landscape in Vietnam, these recognitions showcase the inclusivity and encouragement for diverse business scales.

In that case, what do Vietnamese businesses need to do to continue promote their brands, as well as Vietnam’s national brand in a more vigorous way, to gain more competitiveness in the global stage?

Looking ahead, first and foremost, a brand’s value lies in its quality of products and services. One thing I notice is that, there’s a lot of room for improvement for Vietnamese products and services. I earnestly hope that businesses invest wisely, constantly innovate, and commit for the long term to what they want to offer in the market.

In order to do so, they need to genuinely listen to the customers, do market research, and continuously seek innovation. Rather than merely following trends, Vietnamese businesses should seek new directions to set trends, lead the market, for instance, focusing on eco-friendly products, sustainable development, transparent and fair management, contributing to equality issues.

Following that, I encourage Vietnamese enterprises to find ways to tell their stories with the essence of Viet Nam to international friends.

Thank you very much!

(*) Dr. Dang Thao Quyen is a lecturer in International Business, The Business School, RMIT Vietnam. She has lived and worked in Australia for many years. She teaches and does research on International Business, Human Resource Management and Knowledge Transfer.

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