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30 local brands feted at Singapore Prestige Brand Award ceremony

THIRTY home-grown companies bagged prizes for their brand accomplishments at the 17th Singapore Prestige Brand Award, with 24 of them being first-time winners.

The contest, which is jointly organised by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) and Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao, handed out awards in six categories in a certificate ceremony at the Marina Mandarin on Tuesday.

Some of the brackets were for “micro” brands that are at least three years old, with fewer than three outlets and less than S$2 million in annual revenue; heritage brands older than 25 years; and brands active in at least three large overseas markets.

Established brands, which have been around for more than five years, sent 12 winners to the finish line, with newcomers such as beauty chain Adonis and Chinese class provider Hua Cheng.

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Familiar faces returning to the awards stage in this category included online clothing retailer Echo of Nature, as well as eatery chains Collin’s and the BreadTalk Group’s Toast Box.

Meanwhile, the special merit prize for government agencies and not-for-profit organisations went to Gardens by the Bay.

Lianhe Zaobao associate editor Goh Sin Hwee, co-chairman of the organising committee for the event, said that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) “are an important pillar of Singapore's economy and have always contributed greatly in cultivating our local business leaders, social leaders and philanthropists”.

“With the rapid transformation of Singapore’s economy and society, it's an opportunity for SMEs to further demonstrate their versatility, wisdom and courage,” she added.

Separately, ASME vice-president Chew Lee Ching, who chaired the organising committee for the awards, said at the award certificate ceremony that the organisers “are pleased with the noticeable increase in participants with some degree of digital adoption”.

“This demonstrates an awareness that branding and digitalisation are not mutually exclusive,” she said.

With more business-to-business and business-to-consumer transactions being done on online platforms, “branding has become even more important”, she added.

“A strong brand inspires trust, which is very important when selling online, when you cannot feel or try the products.”

She cited home-grown “smart home” firm hiLife, which was among the seven winners in the “promising brands” category for businesses that are between three and eight years old.

Set up in 2015, hiLife offers real estate developers, managing agents and condominium residents an app that taps technologies such as smart home voice control, car licence plate recognition and other features to digitalise community activities such as booking a barbecue pit.

Ms Chew said: “As a small country with a small market, we are all familiar with the call to innovate, transform and internationalise. These are no longer ‘nice-to-have’ claims. They are indispensable components of a company’s growth strategy.

“Anchored with a strong brand, these initiatives are the key drivers for sustainable business growth. They enable business owners to develop a desired market positioning that transcends geography and size.”

Wong Hsun-Min, head of commercial banking at the event’s bank partner, RHB Singapore, said: “A strong and solid brand is invaluable to an organisation. Your brand will see you through economic uncertainties and help you overcome challenges.

“The opportunities to strengthen your brand and presence in the region is tremendous, and SMEs should regularly evaluate their existing business to stay ahead of the game.”

The top firm in each award category – except for the micro and special merit categories – will be named at another ceremony, on Nov 1.