Consider the facts.
In 1980, global trade was only 12% of the gross national product. By 2013, the percentage more than doubled to around 28% which meant about one-third of what is being produced around the world is sold globally. In 2013, too emerging markets grew almost four times as quickly as advanced economies. Between the ’70s to the late ’90s, the number of brands, categories and variations per product doubled or even tripled: from 16 brands and types of bottled water, there are now at least 50; from 17 brands and types of pain relievers, there are now 141. One thing is patent: there is a growing number of businesses around the world and therefore growing global competition.
Understandably, gone are the days when product competitive advantage relied almost exclusively on inherent quality, name-recall, or identity relationships with a small, local market segment.
Corporate identity, or branding, has also become a major variable in this age of competitive positioning. Corporate branding is not limited to a packaging of a product or brand name but actually involves the projection of company name, culture, logo, consistent product quality, customer and other services as well as other means by which the company interacts with the general public.
Today, successful corporate branding is considered a product of a strong coherence between what management seeks to accomplish (vision), what the employees know and believe (organizational culture), and how its external stakeholders perceive the company (image). In other words, competitive positioning is no longer just a simple matter of how a company can sell its products or services but on how well they can sell themselves to a broader, even foreign, public.
Innovations, product packaging, catchy taglines, public personality endorsements, strategic and significant airtime and other conventional advertising mantras no longer suffice in securing market patronage and loyalty. The research agenda of market analysts and advertising strategists are no longer limited to the practical value of products and services but their cerebral and symbolic appeals to a generation of global consumers looking not only for utility but self-definition and individual identity.
Internal management styles today also need to consider communicating trust and culture not just within its ranks but to a wider universal audience. As such, businesses now need social media management specialists in addition to information communication technology (ICT) experts. Firms also no longer lodge public relations only to PR units but even enlist advertising films or even exhibition design companies that provide sophisticated services in graphic design and content strategy for to establish a distinctive company or brand presence in local, regional and international tradeshows, conferences, and similar public presentation venues. Such professional exhibition services are now thriving not just in the U.S. and major economies but in a number of traditional countries in Asia like Singapore and Malaysia. As far as image goes, corporations also invest significant resources in establishing and maintaining distinct public images. Commercial interior design consultants are now being hired to assure the consistency of office aesthetics with a company’s ID and public persona.
If these are any indications, it is not hard to imagine that professional services for competitive positioning will in itself be, if it has not done so already, a highly competitive industry in years to come.