The word branding is not a relatively new business concept. More than three decades ago, marketing expert Michael J Baker wrote an introductory text on the importance of brands and branding. What is new is the degree of attention and sophistication it has gotten the world over in recent years.
Maybe this has to do with the increased mental clutter in our lives and in the marketplace, which makes it difficult for companies to get across their messages.
“Brands are quickly becoming the basis for most critical business decisions,” an observer noted. Branding is the sum total of whatever a company or an idea represents. For most part of it, branding is as simple as doing the right thing, consistently and clearly.
Today as expected, Nigeria parades herself with her most celebrated brands of all time – her super brands! Indeed, for a few of them, branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problems.
While a brand is the uniqueness a customer perceives of an organization or idea; there’s a connection between a brand name [identity], brand image [perception] and brand reputation [respect].
All strong brands depend on, more than anything else, its reputation. In as much as corporate executives try to build a good brand, they ought to be mindful of corporate reputation also. In essence, a good reputation accounts for a good brand.
However, for obvious reasons, Nigerian entrepreneurs are quick at building strong brands to their advantage only to allow them crumble in no distant time, for lack of brand management skill.
I have to admit I used to buy UAC’s Gala Sausage, until Leventis Meaty came along. The experience was always positive and I always had the feeling of that tasty snack with pure beef filling. But where did Gala go wrong? Gala lost its unique positioning in the heat of competition. Apart from the sudden change of wrap [which I think I don’t like so much], the sausage in it has become so lean.
UAC failed to realize that branding is more than just putting on new clothes.
The problem with many of these great brands is that they don’t usually realize the repercussion of their actions and inactions until well after the time and money have been invested or after it is too late.
How many times have you pulled into a company’s parking spot and saw a sign that read, “Parking reserved for xxxx customers only. All others will be tolled,” or “Cars are parked at owners’ risk”? Have you ever met a lousy school proprietor raining indecent words on parents? Or how many times have you had to queue for long hours somewhere, only to be disappointed at the way a customer service officer treated you?
These are all negative branding and reputation at work. We experience it everyday. It affects the way customers perceive us.
Corporate bodies should pay great attention to their messages – spoken or written.
Words do the talking for our business, so it’s worth investing in the best copy we can afford. Unprofessionally written communications and marketing materials can actively work against us, telling potential customers things we didn’t mean to say.
Instead of the stereotyped “Cars are parked at owners’ risk,” why not try something like “While we ensure your vehicles are safe, we don’t accept any risk”? Long but it’s full of great impact.
Our dear economy has suffered from a breakdown resulting from her choice of words. They cost money, but words efficiently applied produce great wealth.
So let’s begin to take a good look at everything we do: our message; our corporate identity; our approach to communicating with clients; our demeanour; our products; our packaging; our advertising and our staff.