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“Hi Seoul” Strengthens Global Branding of Korea's SMEs

“Hi Seoul” Brand Project and its Achievements

Organized by Seoul City and the Seoul Business Agency(SBA), an organization that specializes in nurturing Seoul-based small enterprises by providing comprehensive supports, the “Hi Seoul” Brand Project lends support to enterprises experiencing difficulties in developing their own global brands. Despite possessing advanced technology and product excellence, many of them lack experience in global PR or marketing. Seoul City assists such companies by allowing them to use its “Hi Seoul” promotional slogan as a joint brand, plus providing comprehensive PR and marketing services to boost their marketing competence.
SBA selects the candidates after rigid screening of Seoul-based companies with at least two years of business experience, innovative products and advanced technology, and global competitiveness.

Since the “Hi Seoul” brand project was launched in 2004 with 11 companies, the number of participating companies has steadily increased from 30 in 2005, to 120 in 2011. Moreover, both sales and brand recognition of the “Hi Seoul” brand products have enjoyed remarkable growth. In fact, the sales of the “Hi Seoul” brand products grew sharply from 9.5 billion won in 2004, to 659.5 billion won in 2010. Exports in particular skyrocketed to US$114 million in 2010 from US$1.7 million in 2004.

Year 2011 Plans and Goals

The objective of the “Hi Seoul” brand project is to develop the “Hi Seoul” brand into a “Global No. 1 Regional Brand” to
stimulate the growth of excellent small and medium-sized companies on the basis of strong brand power.

Toward this vision, the SBA will focus its efforts on reaching the goal of 800 billion won in sales by these participating SMEs in 2011 and boosting the brand recognition to 36% from 34% in 2009. Moreover, SBA has significantly expanded the number of participating companies and business categories. Currently, 120 outstanding companies that have gone through the strict screening process from six categories such as the IT, fashion & beauty, cultural content, consumer goods, eco-friendly & green items and bio & medical sectors are participating in the project.

To achieve these goals, the SBA will focus on enhancing the “Hi Seoul” brand recognition and brand preference in the international market by effectively promoting the brand and building trust among consumers as well as overseas buyers with purchasing power.

Moreover, the SBA will reinforce the PR push for opening overseas markets so that member companies will be able to eagerly utilize the “Hi Seoul” brand for their market expansion abroad. Above all, the SBA will provide the companies with opportunities to advance into the Chinese market.

At the same time, domestic and international on-line marketing supports that are finely tuned to the requirements of member companies will be intensified by utilizing eBay, open market and online shopping malls. Moreover, the SBA will keep advancing with the plans for reinforcing the global competitiveness of member companies, including more vigorous design development, nurturing global star enterprises, B2B overseas e-trade aid business and so on.

Support for the Participating Companies

The SBA intends to select companies with great growth potential and ultimately foster them into global star companies with export competence in order to lay the foundation for the “Hi Seoul” brand to raise its profile as a global brand by helping them to open overseas markets more actively in cooperation with the trade support project by the SBA.

Once the companies are selected, the SBA supports them by allowing them to sell their products with the “Hi Seoul” brand logo displayed on them and offering various marketing support at home and abroad.
In a part, the SBA offers support for attendance of small-sized trade fairs that can meet the needs of participants. In 2010, a total number of 193 companies were given such aid and reaped US$ 900 million worth of export contract consultation.
Furthermore, the SBA assists member companies in their individual registration on world-renowned B2B Internet sites, thus helping them effectively publicize their products.

The SBA has also provided support to companies that want to expand their presence in the domestic market by opening exclusive space for “Hi Seoul” brand products at the nation’s leading online shopping mall, G-market as well as local TV home shopping broadcasting. In 2010, a total number of 44 companies benefited from such support, reaping 3.5 billion won in sales.

The SBA also strengthens the PR pitch via local and international mass media at home and abroad.
First, the SBA is consistently promoting the Hi Seoul brand and the products by the participating companies through various mass media including newspapers, magazines, and cable TV, as well as advertising on the subway and in subway stations. Through these PR endeavors, 180 companies were exposed to various mass media at home and abroad.
Moreover, the Hi Seoul Brand Plaza, the Hi Seoul showroom on the first floor of the Seoul Trade Exhibition and Convention Center (SETEC), has been serving as a venue for consumers and buyers to participate in various events and experience a variety of “Hi Seoul” brand products.

SBA Activities and Achievements

Funded by Seoul City, the SBA was founded in March 1998 with an aim of providing comprehensive support for Seoul City’s project for industry and the economy and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in accordance with the government’s “law on balanced regional development and the cultivation of small and medium-sized local companies.”

As a reliable partner of SMEs, the SBA offers comprehensive services for SMEs or venture startup companies in Seoul and provides various kinds of support for their cultivation, marketing and exhibitions at home and abroad, foreign trade, and investment attraction through various infrastructures, including the Seoul Fashion Center, Seoul Animation Center, Seoul Hightech Venture Center, DMC R&D Center, SETEC, Seoul Trade Hall Peking, International Cooperation and Marketing Support Headquarters, Design Cluster.

Seoul City named six new growth-engine industries or creative industries in tourism, fashion and design, digital content, banking and logistics services, R&D, exhibitions and conventions, as Seoul City’s representative strategic industries. In keeping with this, the SBA plans to concentrate its support on marketing at home and abroad for each industrial sector.

As a self-contained professional organization, it will create an environment in which SMEs can expand their business and enhance their global competitiveness through strategic global marketing, rather than providing random support and fostering dependency.

* More Information

Tel: (82-2)2222-3775

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