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Case study:  Taiwan

In 1990, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, through the Board of Foreign Trade, with CETRA (now TAITRA) as the executional entity, launched a long-term effort to create an all-new image for the Made in Taiwan label.  The campaign came about as a result of a dire economic condition—international buyers had long been demanding a discount from Taiwan manufacturers based on the low-end image of the Made in Taiwan label.  Manufacturers were pouring billions of dollars into new product development and innovation, yet the return on the investment was not forthcoming due to the discount caused by the bad or outdated image.  It made perfect sense for the Government to join with the private sector to launch a campaign (IEP) to overcome that gap between perception and reality.


The initial plan was to attack the problem head on by addressing the issue of quality.  This plan was devised by Bright & Associates.  ICI Partner David Lightle was at the time on the committee overseeing the project on the client side representing Acer, Inc. In 1992, a decision was made to seek a new strategy based on leading with Taiwan’s strengths, rather than its weakness.  This was led by David Lightle, then the new general consultant for IEP.  Using his proprietary Drop Formula, David arrived at a new positioning, INNOVALUE, for Made in Taiwan.  Initially, Taiwan manufacturers were skeptical about the possibility of finding a single positioning to describe the strength of Taiwan export manufacturers.  After all, at that time Taiwan made more than 300,000 different types of products!  Yet, after several months of research and the strategic distillation process, David was able to capture the unique, common essence of Taiwan’s leading edge products—The use of innovation to create great value in leading edge products.  That was the strategic positioning. 

The creative positioning ended up being unique, so unique that a new word was coined to communicate Taiwan’s product brand—INNOVALUE (using innovation to create value).  This brand is still in use by TAITRA after 15 years!  And, it is ever more relevant to Taiwan as much of the manufacturing is leaving the island to China while companies keep their design engineering base on Taiwan.  Taiwan is still the place where INNOVALUE occurs.


A massive campaign was developed to launch the new image.  First, a domestic program was carried out so as to build support for the brand and its logo among blue-chip Taiwanese exporters.  A contest was devised in which products compete for the right to use the Symbol of Excellence logo on their products, packaging and promotions.  It was the ultimate push-pull marketing campaign, with the Government providing the initial push and manufacturers taking over with the market pull.


Branding campaigns are meant to be long-term.  It is interesting to note that the Symbol of Excellence and the INNOVALUE theme are still in use after nearly 15 years.  This is the right path for the Made in Taiwan label. Click here to view case study graphics in PDF format.