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The Brutal Truth About Asian Branding: And How to Break the Vicious Cycle

ISBN: 978-0-470-82647-8
250 pages
March 2011
The Brutal Truth About Asian Branding: And How to Break the Vicious Cycle (0470826479) cover image


This is one of the most thoughtful books on branding I've come across. Most such books are either quickly-crafted "how-to" books or academic tomes over-burdened with references. This book is thoughtful because it raises questions which deal with the "why" rather than just "how" of branding. The reference to brutal truth as the truth which will set us free—to examine ourselves without self-illusions—is liberating. The notion that Asia has many good, but no great brands, is also not a put-down but a clarion call for Asian CEOs to rise to the challenge and create lasting, meaningful, committed brands.
Ho Kwon Ping
Chairman/CEO, Banyan Tree and Board of Trustees, SMU
2010 recipient of the "Lifetime Achievement Award" by the American Creativity Association

A cold shower to wake people up. Joe Baladi's Brand Blueprint is a great tool for anyone involved in Sovereign Relationship Marketing or brand building anywhere.
Timothy Love
Vice Chairman
Chief Executive Officer, Omnicom APIMA

There are many books about branding but few address Asian companies directly. Joe Baladi has been one of the loudest voices to advocate strong branding practices to Asian companies determined to outperform their competitors. The Brutal Truth About Asian Branding is a timely book that all Asian CEOs with global aspirations should read.
Richard Eu
Group CEO, Eu Yan Sang International

The Brutal Truth About Asian Branding is the first book that connects branding frameworks to the realities of operating in Asia. It offers a very straightforward perspective on the challenges Asian CEOs face as they build their businesses and their brands, and perhaps the most compelling part of the book is the passionate plea for how Asian CEOs should be thinking different about branding. In true Baladi style, it is straight from the heart.
Maarten Kelder
Managing Partner (Asia), Monitor Group

A very interesting and valuable perspective on Asian branding... one that decision makers in the region should read and embrace. Well done Joe!
Ron Sim
Founder & CEO, OSIM International

Brands mean Business, anywhere in the world! The focus on Asia, at this time, is natural since the developing nations of the region did so much to help the world recover from the global 2008 economic crisis. Baladi’s text is timely; it is thoughtful and thought-provoking; putting people and brands center stage with practical insights borne of his breadth of personal experience at the frontline.
Chris D. Beaumont
Professor, Tokyo University, Global Centre of Excellence
Director, North Asia, Results International

The brutal truth is that Joe Baladi is right. Asian CEOs must learn the brand skills used so successfully in the rest of the world. It will take a big change in mentality, but the rewards will be vast. This book is a great start to that revolution.
Michael Newman
Author, 22 Irrefutable Laws of Advertising

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Table of Contents


1. A Time of Profound Change.

The old world order.

The new world order.

The rest of Asia.

Toll-gates and vision.

2. Five Reasons Why There are Very Few Great Asian brands.

1. Myopic CEO leadership.

2. Corporate culture is by default, rather than by design.

3. Charlatan brand practitioners.

4. Performance of government agencies.

5. Advertising agencies’ lack of branding competencies.


3. Redefining Brand, Branding, and Advertising.

Brand and branding: Thinking differently.

Branding made easy: The People Analogy.

The brand blueprint.

The brand proposition.

The relationship between branding and advertising.

4. Pre-Branding.

Overview of the business and branding flowchart.

Business goals and business strategy.

The role of corporate guiding principles.

Summary: Charting the road to a successful business

5.  Brand Strategy.

If you don’t make a choice, the choice makes you.


Emotional dimension.

Focused target audience.

Ability to innovate and stay relevant.

CEO involvement and leadership.

Employee involvement and commitment.

Intelligent brand architecture.

CSR: The new branding imperative.


6.  Methodology instead of Mythology.

Positioning or repositioning?

Preparing for a (positioning or repositioning) branding project.

The strategy-centric brand development methodology.

Costing the project proposal. 

7. Brand into Action: Delivering against Your Promise.

Be careful what you promise.

Making the brand come alive.


8. Conclusion.

The future is here.

Caught up in a good thing.

The "Asian/Chinese Century".

Everything is connected; the rest is conceptual.

Summary: Tomorrow’s Asian CEO today.


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Author Information

Joseph Baladi was raised in South America and educated in Australia. His working career - which has included postings to New York City, Mexico City, Tokyo, and Singapore - has given him a unique perspective on human values, consumer behavior and the valuable role that brands and branding play in building an organization. During the course of his career, Joseph has provided brand-building advice to leading global companies including Procter & Gamble, Mars, and Coca-Cola. Presently based in Asia, he is considered a leading voice for and an advocate of emerging great Asian brands. He is a prolific writer and a popular speaker at major business and branding forums around the world. 


In 2011, Joseph Baladi received the prestigious Ron Frank Fellowship to read the Executive MBA program at Singapore Management University (SMU).

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Press Release

January 12, 2011
Lack of Strong Consumer Brands Jeopardizes the Asian Century

The development and growth of much of Asia over the past two decades has been nothing short of spectacular. Yet, there remains a huge void of great brands (Japan aside) emerging from this region – Surveys repeatedly confirm that Asian consumers overwhelmingly prefer great Western brands to home-grown ones: given the choice, they will drink Coke, wear Nike shoes, and drive a BMW every time. This begets the question: How effective will be the current transition of the world order from West to East in the absence of great Asian brands? And will that momentous transition remain purely economic, or will it also be cultural?

Author Joe Baladi explores these pressing issues in a new book entitled, “The Brutal Truth About Asian Branding: and How to Break the Vicious Cycle” (ISBN: 978-0-470-82647-8; John Wiley & Sons) – a long-awaited, no-holds-barred account of a present reality that is inconsistent with the journey Asian brands will need to make if they are to deliver to their potential. Examining five key reasons for the lack of development of Asian brands, he exposes the practices, circumstances, policies, and management attitudes that effectively conspire to hold back Asian brands from becoming great brands: 

  1. Myopic CEO leadership
  2. Corporate culture that is by default, rather than by design
  3. Charlatan brand practitioners
  4. Government agencies that mean well, but should perform better
  5. Advertising agencies with little to no branding competencies.

The book then addresses how Asian brand owners can implement change management practices in order to create brand-centric companies, providing a clear and prescriptive roadmap for Asian decision makers who are intent on transforming their brands from just ‘good’ to ‘great’. 

“The single, most profound thing American businessmen figured out a long time ago was that brands fundamentally define people,” said the author. “Unless Asian businesses are able to develop genuine relationships between their brands and consumers – in Asia, as well as around the world – they will fail to move up the value chain.”

Something visible and disruptive needs to happen if Asian brands are to live up to their potential during this period of unprecedented change and opportunity – and the brutal truth Joe Baladi lays bare in his book should serve as a blaring wake-up call to Asian CEOs.

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