Samsung has become about the first non-Japanese Asian company to create a stop-you-in-tracks-global-brand, according to me and premier Asia-hand KIenichi Ohmae. Near or at the top of the "causes" list: DESIGN!
Consider this cover headline in BusinessWeek (11.29):
"SAMSUNG DESIGN: THE KOREAN GIANT MAKES SOME OF THE COOLEST GADGETS ON EARTH. NOW IT'S REINVENTING ITSELF TO GET EVEN COOLER."
In 1993, Samsung's boss was wandering in LA, and became annoyed that Sony products were always in the front of the store, while his, equally well engineered, were tossed about in the back. Hence, an epiphany that launched the remaking of Samsung.
Today, the Korean giant boasts a design staff of 470 (120 added in the last 12 months), a design budget jumping 20% to 30% a year, and Design Centers in LA, SF, London and Tokyo. In 2004, Samsung won 5 IDEA awards (Industrial Design Excellence Awards), making it the 1st Asian company to take the annual top spot traditionally reserved for U.S. and European firms.
As at firms like Sony, Samsung has now reached the point that the designers dictate to the engineers, not vice versa!
Samsung Rules ... By Design!