A dozen CEOs of branding and design agencies in Asia met recently to discuss launching the Design Business Association Asia.
Modeled after the UK-based DBA, the group hopes to recruit a "critical mass" of 50 to 60 agencies to start a Singapore chapter, and would aim to follow that with a Shanghai chapter.
Agencies involved in the initial discussions include Brand Union, Cowan, DesignBridge, Elmwood, Fitch, Frog, FutureBrand, Holmes & Marchant, IDEO, Interbrand, JKR, Landor, LPK, SGK, and Siegel + Gale.
It's time for the industry to raise its profile, according to Paul Galesloot, Asia CEO at Cowan. "Despite the empirical proof of the importance of branding, the focus of many clients and new talent remains on other parts of marketing communications," he said. "We know that behaviour drives awareness, not the other way around."
In an age of exponential touchpoint growth, brands should focus on visual brand language to build their brands. "Brand owners need to make sure that the brand equity is reinforced at each experience, usage and purchase to develop strong memory structures in the minds of shoppers," Galesloot said.
With the rapid emergence of ecommerce and the extreme growth of mobile communication in Asia, design and branding are even more important here than in some other parts of the world, he said.
Moreover, while economic growth over the previous decade in Asia meant that even brands performing "averagely" saw robust growth, those days are gone. "With the economic slowdown and competition from all over the world now established in Asia, there is significantly increased importance on creating distinct brands," Galesloot said.
The fledging association would aim to create a code of conduct, develop services for smaller agencies, offer training for new entrants into the industry and execute a salary-benchmarking survey. Larger agencies will pay higher fees to keep the dues for smaller agencies as low as possible, he added.
The Design Business Association in the UK, which has 500 member companies representing 7,000 staff, will help with tools and approaches.
Galesloot invited interested companies to contact him via email@example.com.