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Entrepreneurship and Building Brands

Entrepreneurship and Building Brands

One of Customer Passion Point’s goals, besides making money, is to create strong African Brands, no matter how challenging it is. We recognize it is an uphill task but we also believe that once we have managed to get a couple the rest will be history.

Why is it such a problem to sell the idea of Brand Building to African business owners? To most of them it is a high sounding exotic expense they can do without. What matters is making the deal or exchange. I have something you want. You pay for it and I make a margin. That is business.

Recently I went to one of the big markets to sell Business training packages. It was such a joke. Each of those business men was worth hundreds of thousands of Naira but they could not imagine themselves leaving their business premises to attend training. To them it was a total waste of resources. Businesses like theirs make up a good portion of our economy, yet when they die, their businesses die with them. Branding, Succession Planning, Business structures are of no consequence to them. It is sad.

However, we are not distracted from our goal of building African Brands. When we say Branding a business, we are actually giving it life. Branding a business transits it from mere existence to authentic survival. Until Branding becomes the watchword, products and services lack authenticity. They come and go and nobody notices.

Recently I was waiting to get into a GT Banking hall. I needed to pay some money into an account. As usual there was queue to get into the bank.  I used to enjoy the GTB experience but it has been hell recently. But I was listening to a conversation between two not very literate young women about the bank. They were not looking forward to the long queue in the banking hall and were complaining. Then one of them wondered why so many people still come to the Bank despite the queues. The other one answered in Yoruba, ‘won mo she ni’. That means, ‘They know what they are doing’.

Between the two of them, they probably were not going to transact any major deal but that was there impression of the bank. For that impression, they would suffer the crazy queues and spend all the time it required. Where did she get that impression? When I tried to challenge her, she asked me why everyone remained with the bank even when they were not happy. It must be that they know what they are doing.

That is what Branding can do. For the bank in question, I think their indifference to customer experience is beginning to cost them. Just recently I was in a gathering of people out of which four had closed their accounts. But the Brand they built over the years is sustaining them through this period when people are dissatisfied.

Why do people call soft drinks Coke? Why does MTN have so many more subscribers than all their counterparts in Nigeria? Why is it that when I get into an Oando filling station, I feel a sense of excitement as compared to an MRS station? Why would a woman pay $4000 for a Prada Bag? What happens to you when you think Apple? Compare it to what you feel when you think Blackberry. Why is it that the names Arsenal and Manchester United invoke such strong feelings even in the heartlands among people that will never leave their villages? Branding. Branding.

So as we start a discuss on Branding is and how to build brands, I sincerely hope that any business person who comes across it will start to think more seriously about it. It is essential to the survival of any business.

It promises to be an exciting ride into the world of Branding.

Chinwe Kalu

Value Creation Consultant

 

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