"Vietnamese businesses do not pay enough attention to promoting their brands or spend only limited amounts on design development," Da Nang Architecture College interior design lecturer Nguyen Thi Hong Tuoi told the Innovation by Design conference held in Da Nang on July 20.

"It reflects the limited vision of business managers and the underdeveloped design industry in Vietnam ," Tuoi said. "Businesses lack a long-term strategy and forget that promoting their brands consistently plays an important role in boosting production."

In a recent survey of 500 Vietnamese businesses, 70 percent have not yet developed designs for their brands and products, 25 percent have not spent any money on design, and only 8 percent have allocated resources to brand development, she said.

Some of these, she noted, included such globally-known brands as Pho 24. The Pho 24 restaurant chain, which debuted in 2003, has 80 shops in Vietnam and 30 abroad.

"The owner of Pho 24 has taken advantage to boost brand design and improve sales outside the country," Tuoi said.

The central city of Da Nang has also successfully built its brand as a tourist destination with outstanding architectural features, promoting such landmarks as the bridges crossing the Han River , the Ba Na Hills Mountain resort and Son Tra peninsula beaches.

Also addressing the conference, Kim Yun-jib from the Republic of Korea Institute of Design Promotion said developing a design industry helped enhance the competitiveness of products.

" Vietnam should map out a strategic plan for developing the design industry, which includes human resources training, marketing and international co-operation," Kim said. "The Government needs to provide priority policies and assistance to design businesses, recognising they are a driving force for businesses to build brands locally and internationally."

The conference, which was co-organised by the Ministry of Trade and Industry's Trade Promotion Agency and the Korea Institute of Design Promotion, drew 200 Vietnamese and the RoK designers and businesses. The conference also focused on a Vietnam-RoK design-sharing project which aimed to enhance the design capacity of both countries.-VNA