LOCAL firms have been encouraged to nominate for a leading award that recognises outstanding efforts in brand building.

This year's Singapore Prestige Brand Award (SPBA) was launched yesterday, as various past winners spoke of how the award inspired greater success.

The launch, held at the Singapore Press Holdings News Centre auditorium, was attended by 250 company representatives.

Now in its 11th year, the award is jointly organised by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises and Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao. It is sponsored by CIMB.

There are five main categories based on how long applicants have been around, including one for regional brands established in at least five foreign markets.

Mr Jimmy Fong, a co-founder of tech retailer EpiCentre said: 'It's about constantly improving our business... thinking of innovation and how to be better. Change is constant in business and you have to constantly improve yourself.'

Mr Fong is a three-time award winner. EpiCentre is a reseller of Apple products and after-sales services. It listed on the Singapore Exchange in 2008.

Mr Fong was responding to SME owner Desmond Ong, who asked why companies were encouraged to take part each year.

Mr Ong's construction equipment firm Galmon won an SPBA established brand award last year.

Said Mr Ong: 'Winning this award helped to reaffirm the company's brand both externally to my clients, and internally to my staff too.

'Winning was just the beginning... Chances are that we will participate again.'

Business development executive Yong Ching Seng of green technology innovator Biomax Technologies said that he believed that the awards were relevant to his firm even though it is a business-to-business (B2B) operation.

'It will be harder as a B2B company to brand ourselves compared to retail businesses, but a strong brand will help to propel any company further. It's all about reputation.'

The deadline for applications is Aug 13, and winners will be announced in November.