Monday, March 13, 2006

a brand of country ...

When you think of “Switzerland”, what comes to mind?

On-time trains?
Swiss bank accounts?
The hospitality industry?
The Alps?
The Alphorn?
Those funny Alpine costumes?
Clean mountain air?
The Eidelweiss flower?
The Swiss Army Knife?
Cunning trilinguists?

I understand that the Swiss government takes the Swiss brand so seriously, it makes sure only appropriate use of “Swiss / Switzerland” is used in brand names, worldwide.

So, if I were to open a café that I called The Swiss Kopitiam, I would expect to get a visit from the Swiss authorities, who would determine my right to use the name. I doubt that my half-Swiss heritage would automatically qualify me: I guess I would need to have some typically Swiss dishes, or have experimental menu items featuring a Swiss-Asian mélange, or something that truly justified the use of the name :p

A bit much, don’t you think, to monitor the use of a name to that extent?

Then again…

Another country recognized world-wide is, of course, the U S of A.

I don’t think they are hung up about their image the way the Swiss are. They have their reasons, I suppose.

But as a result of the perhaps lax attitude, you can stumble across shops such as this one:

Dunnolah if you can read properly or not: the name is “America Watch”, and it’s located somewhere in Mid Valley Mega Mall.

From my vantage point, I could see the following brands sold in this store:
  • Nike (okay, that’s a U.S. brand, no matter if it’s probably made in China)
  • SEIKO (Japanese brand, am I right?)
  • Victorinox – the Swiss Army brand

I bet if I walked in to see what else they sold, I wouldn’t find much else “American” there. Maybe the Guess brand got lah. I also bet chances are the owner, and salespeople, are Chinese. Malaysian, but Chinese.

I’m betting they have no real connection to “America”, let alone the U S of A.

and while we’re at it: have you stopped to think about just how pervasive, so universal, the US of A brand is? Even the word “America” is synonymous with the US of A, even though there are so many countries that belong to North, Central and South America, all having a piece of the “America” pie!

So why name the shop America Watch? Just to latch-on to world-widely recognized name, I suppose. Maybe that will attract more (mindless? braindead?) customers?

Where’s the “truth in their branding”?

Do they have the “right” to use the name?

All of a sudden, the Swiss don’t seem so anal after all.


  1. Actually, in the US of A, the state of Kentucky wanted to get a sizable portion of Kentucky fried chickens' earnings as royalty for using the state name. But the people at Kentucky fried chicken weren't amused so they changed their name to KFC... :D

  2. LOL I could have sworn I'd read that the reson they rebranded to KFC was essentially to "hide" the fact that they served FRIED (unhealthy) chicken!


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