Editor's note: The story below is written by Aron Schuftan, a doctor of FV Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, in response to Tuoi Tre newspaper's 'Ho Chi Minh City Goes Global' contest. It was edited by Tuoi Tre News for clarity, consistency, and coherence.
Developing Ho Chi Minh City’s brand image is paramount in differentiating it within the global landscape.
The goal of “Brand Ho Chi Minh City” should need no introduction and is built upon an emotional, simple, and universal concept. It should be embedded and adopted in people’s minds easily.
Ho Chi Minh City should be held in the same esteem as other major, established cities like Hong Kong, London, Dubai, and New York. In fact, it should even eclipse them as it is the fresh, “up-and-coming”, “new-kid-on-the-block”.
Situated in Southeast Asia, Ho Chi Minh City has proven itself as an economic and cultural hub in the region. Just hours from dozens of major cities in the area, Ho Chi Minh City, with its centrally located international airport, has a unique set up as a launching point for international commerce and tourism.
With its creative, enterprising, energetic, and multilingual educated youth, Ho Chi Minh City has seen a massive growth in tourism, development, and manufacturing industries especially in the tech sector, which accounted for about 23 percent of Vietnam's GDP in 2020. With the ambitious and driving energy here, Ho Chi Minh City is the “Silicon Valley of Asia”.
The entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive here and this vibrant community is still small and friendly enough to be able to effectively network with the influential decision makers in various growing economies. The adage of “one degree of separation” is very much a reality here and often just asking a few friends will get you in contact with the person you are looking to connect with.
With its unique history, Vietnam, and Ho Chi Minh City in particular, has been influenced by many cultures. This is still visible today in its contrasting architecture, savory food, colorful customs, and lively spirit. It is a true melting pot of the Orient.
For a country that has seen its share of historical conflict, Vietnam has an incredible spirit of resilience and forgiveness, open to all newcomers, curious to broaden their experiences.
Using a brand's geographic origin and heritage to build its identity is a way to begin telling its story and brings extraordinary value and universal appeal.
The branding of Ho Chi Minh City should focus on two fronts.
Budding tech industry
Showcase current successful companies/entrepreneurs
Host more international competitions in different events (hackathons, tech, gaming).
Project ideas of dependability, reassurance, and authenticity.
Promote Ho Chi Minh City as being one of the most developed, and fastest growing cities in the world.
Creative, enterprising, energetic and multilingual educated cheap labor force.
World class computer coders
Tourism and culture
Information booths city wide to better accommodate tourists that are already here.
Establish homestays with Saigonese families for tourists and expats.
Promote Opera House events to all hotel guests.
Organize exchange programs for international students to come live in Vietnam.
Interview and publicize (both locally and internationally) interviews with famous people (artists, musicians, politicians, historians, chefs, entrepreneurs, etc).
More media coverage (both locally and internationally) of events and festivals.
Create documentaries of things uniquely Vietnamese and distribute internationally (water puppets, Ao Dai, non la, music, cuisine).
Create a food/travel show based on Vietnam to be distributed internationally.
Showcase the unique colonial architecture Vietnam has.
Create a high-quality documentary on the Vietnam War from Vietnam’s perspective.
Memoir of famous historical figures in Vietnam.
Promote your budding film industry and fashion industry to international audiences.
Host more international competitions in different events (fashion, music, art).
Showcase Landmark 81 as the tallest building in Vietnam, the tallest building in Southeast Asia, and the 15th tallest building in the world (I think relatively few people know that).
Set up a tourism body to establish offices in key cities around the world promoting Vietnam/Ho Chi Minh City.
Showcase events, products and services that are unique or popular here.
Possible symbols of the Ho Chi Minh City/Vietnam brand:
• Non la (Vietnamese conical hat)
• Ao Dai
• Rice paper
• Banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches)
• Women with long black hair
• Rice fields
• Color red/yellow
• “Silicon Valley of Asia”
• “Brand Ho Chi Minh City”
• “Brand Saigon”
• “Saigon Star”
• “Pearl of Asia”
• “United, Together”
• “Quality, Credibility, Innovation”
• “Together, Forward”
• “Future, Together”
• “Pioneering spirit, commitment to innovation, prosperity, pursuit of excellence, while embracing vast cultural diversity”
Keep in mind: Give your audience something to identify with. Stand out from the crowd.