Korean firms polish image

OBSERVANT air travellers will have noticed that the names Samsung and Goldstar have supplanted those of Sony and Panasonic on airport luggage trolleys. Samsung and Goldstar, along with Hyundai and Daewoo, are the manufacturing conglomerates that are the cornerstone of Korean industry.

Just before Christmas the Samsung name went up in lights at Piccadilly Circus, and construction began on a £600m plant near Stockton, Cleveland, where the company will make microwave ovens and computer monitors.

Samsung, Korea's largest corporation, unveiled a new logo a couple of years ago. Next month, Goldstar - the third largest - will change its trading name to LG Electronics and unveil its new logo. Both moves are intended to portray a more sophisticated image to Western consumers.

These are just the most obvious signs of expansionism. The two giants of Korean electronics manufacturing are also following their Japanese role models in more significant ways as they seek to consolidate their position as global brands.

One key way in which Japanese manufacturers have been able to create products with character has been by learning more about the cultures of their target markets. Car-makers such as Nissan and Mazda injected creativity into their products when they set up design studios in California.

Their Korean counterparts have not been slow to copy the example. In 1991, Goldstar set up its Design-Tech Studio in Dublin with assistance from the Industrial Development Agency in Ireland. In addition to this European outpost, the company also has small design studios in the United States and Japan, thus covering the "Triad" of the world's three main economic regions as described by McKinsey's well-known management theorist Kenichi Ohmae.

The Goldstar Design-Tech Studio employs Irish designers who work alongside Koreans. The centre hosts occasional international workshops with visiting Korean and European designers and students. lt is the hub through which Goldstar employs leading European design consultancies to produce designs that are appropriate to regional markets. The management structure allows Goldstar to maintain close relations with its chosen consultancies, according to the general manager, Soon-In Lee. "I believe this is a very good way to relate designer and consultant."

Samsung, too, has recently devolved its design activity. The company works closely with the international product design consultancy IDEO, both in London and through a joint venture studio in the US. A key element of Samsung's design strategy is the planning of product ranges that reflect regional differences.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...