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Branding Gives Life To A Person, Corporate or Nation

mpya 101It was really great seeing beautiful faces from across professions and industries in Dar es Salaam gather to participate in the seminar on Branding, organized by Marketing Initiatives Limited as part of the programs lined up for the Tanzania Marketing Communication Conference 2012.
As I mounted the podium and welcomed the participants and speakers, it simply dawned on me that Branding has become an exciting Marketing. I heard this phrase first when I attended a gathering organized by the Dar Es Salaam University Marketing Association.
I believe the word Brand has been defined severally both in the workplace, academia and even amongst religious faithfuls. One thing seems to stand out. It is the meaning a thing has or portrays! The meaning a people have or portray!!
The name Tiger Woods, Nelson Mandela, Steve Kanumba, Cloud Media, Customer Passion Point, CNN, Diageo, Coke, USA, Tanzania Nigeria etc. They represent brands but they are not in themselves the brand. They represent and demonstrate how a person, a brand, an organization or a nation is perceived-the value they offer. This is very instructive because consumers no longer buy products or services, they buy value- Experience, memories that are endearing.
mpya 003Hence, what is a brand? I think it is the reputation behind you or your organization’s logo or national flag. It is about how you are perceived. It is about what people say about you when you are not there- when you have left the room.
We often make the mistake of assuming we have a brand because we have developed a logo. Logo is not the brand. It is an element of a brand. It has its role and a very important part too. But it is not the Brand.
A brand is a meaning and the process of creating that meaning is called Branding. Once the meaning has been created (usually over time), you need to talk about it and let your audience understand and agree or disagree with that meaning which is what you stand for.
How do you engage your audience on what you stand for? Through effective communication – word of mouth, advertising, PR, Events, Social Media, networking etc. It can be as simple as how you look what you wear, how you talk, your business card, what interests you etc. They play great roles in forming and presenting you to your audience.
Kathy J Kobliski said ‘a carefully built brand is worth more in actual money than all the tangible assets put together and it is what will reap monetary rewards when you’re ready to sell your company’.
As I reflected on this, it became clear to me that every action we take matters. We have to be deliberate about what we do because it forms and in some cases defines how we are perceived by others. We therefore need to decide how we want to be perceived and figure out what we may have to do to get there.
Communication is a powerful tool to build a brand, as we noted earlier. But not just any communication.
I think we should be deliberate about what we communicate about our brand be it personal, corporate or a nation. By deliberate, I mean being ‘value based’. There has to be a value proposition about us or the object of concern – the brand. The proposition must then be crafted into a message which now becomes what we communicate. When there is a meaning to your communication, then it is effective and connects well. Two more things on communication, is the vehicle and mode of communication. When we have a message, we must think about our target audience and how best we can reach them in the most efficient and effective way.
Jack Welch remarked in his book ‘WINNING’ that ‘winning enterprises and the people who work there is the engine of a healthy economy, and in providing the revenues for government, they are the foundation of a free and democratic society’.
Enterprises are made of people who in them and economies are made up of enterprises. They all depend on each other. When we have people who are have become strong brands, it rubs off positively on the enterprises and the economy benefits immensely.
mpya 040Permit me to say that Tanzania needs people who are on their own, strong brands. And as they increase in number and value, they become the base that is necessary to position the nation to win in the global market-to be a great nation.
TMCC therefore wants to use this platform to build the capacity that Tanzania needs to become great and win consistently in the global market. What then do we expect to take home from this seminar? I’d like to group the outcome into three:
– Know how to build a brand starting with each of us as a brand.
– Know how to position as a strong brand. The stronger we are as brands, the more value we command in the minds of our audience
– know the vehicles that are at our disposal to leverage and achieve strong positioning at the most cost efficient and effective way.
Finally, let’s be vigilant. Every contact with the public counts, it will either serve to build our brand or dismantle it. Branding indeed gives life to a person, business or a nation. Let us be deliberate in the investment we put into our brand.
Ikechukwu Kalu

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