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
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower