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YTL amongst Malaysia's most valuable brands

   
Chairman of YTL Corp,Tan Sri Yeoh Teong Lay and Managing Director, Tan Sri (Dr.)Francis Yeoh

The Edge, November 16, 2007

 

“The effort behind the success stories of these brands is in sync with the Malaysian government’s mission: to strive and create a host of world class brands which can hold their own in the global arena. It is time for Malaysians’ to stand proud among the global best in terms of product and service quality, reliability and precision.”  Y.A.B Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Deputy Prime Minister.

 

“Malaysia’s Most Valuable Brands 2007 serves as a catalyst to inspire the great players in this country to look forward to being in the global top 100 brands.”Y. Bhg. Datuk Vincent Lee, President, The Association of Accredited Advertising Agents.

 

“There are the conglomerate brands in our list. With their expansive influence, varied interests and staggering capital, they literally move mountains, provide energy and make roadways in the wilderness, laying vital infrastructure for the development of brand Malaysia.”Tony Savarimuthu, Vice President, The Association of Accredited Advertising Agents.

 

 

Doing away with hype

 

By Joyce Au-Yong

 

It's been a good 29 years since Tan Sri Francis Yeoh Sock Ping took over his father's construction company at the age of 24. The YTL Group of companies has grown and transformed itself into a conglomerate comprising companies from various sectors -utilities, high-speed rail, cement manufacturing, construction, property development, hotels and information technology. Last year, its revenues amounted to a whopping RM5.5 billion.

 

Among YTL's best-known brands are Starhill, its upmarket shopping mall in the golden triangle in Kuala Lumpur, and Pangkor Laut Resort -winner of numerous awards in the travel and hospitality trade.

 

But Yeoh says even though brand branding is an important factor that has contributed to the success of the group, two key drivers quality and consistency play a large role too.

 

"I'm honoured that YTL is one of the brands on the Malaysia's Most Valuable Brands list - and I think it's a good reminder that we must be consistent in delivering our products and services,” Yeoh tells The Edge in an interview.

 

Brands should not be "strategic misrepresentations" of what a company stands for, he says.

 

"There's a lot of false marketing out there, whereby people try to put advertisements that fulfill the promises they advertise.

 

"To a certain extent, the world is over-advertised over-promising and under-delivering.”

 

What YTL spends on branding depends on the type of business it is in. Companies that are consumer-centric, such as its hotels and restaurants, typically spend about 2% to 3% of their sales on marketing and advertising and promotions.

 

"Our different businesses spend different amounts on advertising - there's a market matrix to it,” says Yeoh. In total, he says, YTL spent between RM10 million and RM12 million on advertising and promotional efforts last year.

 

"I do not like to encourage hyping up our brands too much, especially when dealing with businesses such as infrastructure, where the investment is long-term,” he says, citing the example of Wessex Water, YTL's wholly owned subsidiary. "We don't sell water as if it's Coca-Cola - it's not about the taste. It's about the quality, safety and consistency of the water - and we're able to deliver that, year in, year out.

 

But with Starhill Gallery, the strategy was a little different. "When I wanted to brand Starhill, I only wanted to create a mall that was at the top of the pyramid,” says Yeoh.

 

He explains that the only other option available was to "do the Walmarts" - which are right at the bottom of the pyramid. "I didn't want to do what everyone else does - which are all middle mega malls. To me, mega malls give me mega headaches,” he says, jokingly.

 

However, Yeoh admits that because this business model had not been tried before, he had his share of sceptics and cynics.

 

"Nobody tried to build a mall that's totally pyramidical, and the market may not have understood where this was going - KL isn't exactly New York, London or Paris,” he quips.

 

"I engaged Interbrand [about two years ago] to do a rebranding for Starhill - and I realised that Starhill was never branded to begin with anyway. So I told them what my vision was, and they did a splendid job.”

 

Two years down the line, YTL signed an agreement with ETA Star Property Developers LLC in the United Arab Emirates to launch the Starhill Gallery concept in Dubai, which is set to be completed by 2010.

 

"Dubai has millions and millions of square feet of malls, and they chose Starhill as a differentiator - you can see that the brand works,” says Yeoh. Starhill topped Forbes' Traveller's list of Asia's amazing malls this year for its choice of luxurious brands and vast amenities.

 

But YTL didn't discover the power of branding only with Starhill.

 

"There are a few periods in our history where branding was an important tool for us,” recalls Yeoh. "One of these milestones was when I came back to Malaysia [from the UK] to lead this company.”

 

During that time, he says, the construction industry was volatile as there were no fluctuation clauses to protect those in the business.

 

"Nobody wanted to invest in machinery, people or intellectual capital, because they never knew when the next job was coming... There were hardly any brands [in the construction industry] that people respected – no one would have given you a premium because you've been around, for the last, say, 25 years or so - no one cared about that because it's such a cut-and-thrust industry,” says Yeoh. "It was definitely brutal.”

 

After Yeoh returned to Malaysia in 1978, one of the first things he did was to rebrand the company.

 

"I wanted to give it a new logo, and tell the world that we've been around since 1955 - which was a fact that many didn't understand,” he says. "I wanted people to respect my father - I wanted to give him credit.”

 

And that's how the acronym YTL came into fruition. "Yeoh Tiong Lay was just too much of a mouthful,” says the junior Yeoh with a laugh.

 

"The culture of branding simply means that people would recognise you for the quality of your product and services,” he says. "YTL has an impeccable track record, and its stock price grew by 55%, compounded since [we listed] in 1986... Our businesses are being sought after globally, and it's the quality and reliability of the brand that makes it so successful.”

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Top 30 Most Valuable Brands in Malaysia:

 

1. Maybank

2. Public Bank

3. Maxis

4. Genting

5. Celcom

6. CIMB

7. Astro

8. Hong Leong

9. Perodua

10. DiGi

11. Giant

12. Malaysia Airlines

13. Sime Darby

14. TV3

15. Petronas

16. YTL

17. RHB Bank

18. Ambank

19. AirAsia

20. The Star

21. Dutch Lady

22. Kurnia

23. Proton

24. MAA

25. Affin Bank

26. Padini

27. Parkson

28. Sunway

29. Mamee Double Decker

30. Bonia




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