HomeOpinion & AnalysisBusiness Opinion: Branding in the age of entrepreneurship and industrialisation (Part 8)

Business Opinion: Branding in the age of entrepreneurship and industrialisation (Part 8)


There are those brands among our midst that have a capacity to create a set of remembered qualities that help communicate information to the customer! Those are the brands that take a lead ahead of the curve in this congested marketplace! Brand association makes it easy for customers to relate to the brand and above all, builds on loyalty as articulated in the previous edition, though it is not the end but beginning of the construction of a highly competitive set of brands that last the stretch. As much as it might sound a common term in brand management, its magic is yet to be unpacked for sustained brand visibility and profitability by our home grown SMEs. Global big businesses have explored and somewhat perfected the art and managed to mainstream the fabric of their brands into the lifestyles of the target markets. This has led to brands such as Apple, Fly Emirates, Air Qatar, Amazon, Google, among others being brands that are synonymous with success. This has been done well through building a strong association of their brands with unbridled quest for ambitious and mavericks inspired to succeed against all odds. In a sense, business brands should create and maintain their own associates as a brand equity formation from the initial brand life to the end where it talks and invites customers. These are matters of not only seeking refuge, but a permanent residence in the living and breathing of our loyal customers.

Advertisement as a form of promotion has been generalised to a marketing management literature, yet in practise it is the end product, as the companies need to better understand themselves first and their targeted customers to better build lasting associations. Our ecology is endowed with scenic views from the east to the west and north to south. Not forgetting our big five in the wildlife, our cultural heritage, our people and their living. All these can be crafted to broad band, broadcast, displays and socio-blog exchange along with our brands. There is need to understand the concept of advertising from these elements that connects with reality in the minds of our associates rather than borrowing fiction which might not relate with our local customers. This happens when brand management sits at the intersection of advertising and our rich indigenous endowments as highlighted above in the categories of nature and environments, arts and cultural heritage, sports and entertainment and our knowledge products among others. As said in our previous editions, it is not a matter of trying to be someone else but rather defining and creating our own brand associations through that which the customer relates and easily uses to recall information on the brand and subsequent experiences associated with the same. Pricing is more important than just treating it as a matter of balancing books of accounts (for profit or loss). It drives association. We have our places, our markets, our teams, our partners and even venture capitalists. The common denominator of our engagement with them is to apply pricing as part of a relationship building rather than a truncation, in so doing pricing itself will also form part of the brand association. We can go back to a concept of segmentation where we get our brand associates from a segment that understands and accepts our pricing. If not well-connected to the solid chains of our business we lose our brand associates by either over-or under-pricing. More should be done here by our entrepreneurs as one will always wonder how they do their pricing. By hook and crook or just a copy and paste. Yes it a simplified summation of revenues and costs but there is need to go beyond understanding that which promotes a lasting brand association (there is more in pricing than the figures). The other factor that defines the brand association is the quality of service or product — as they say the proof of the taste of pudding is in the eating! This makes or breaks the branding deal — all the campaigns, adverts, promises and appearances will be in vain if it is not matched by superior experience in the form of product/service. This should be well-understood by our SMEs. Total marketing entails that the customers have a feel of that intangible association with their hearts and mind. Being able to imagine something out of nothing and even invisibly measure satisfaction. That is our role as entrepreneurs to bring brand association through quality into tangible reality. The reason why every carbonated soft drink “is a Coca-Cola” so to speak, every tooth paste “is Colgate”, and everything short of expectations is referred to as “Museyamwa” is because of the association processes in our ecology that comes with quality engagement.

It’s high time we should enforce and construct nodes for this measurement in our practise. Here we have the Michael Jordan who has made millions out of an association with quality such that our young customers only want to associate themselves with the label from head to toe. The question is when are we going to realise the same from our home-grown brands (need for a checklist here and installation). This goes to another level that is usually taken for granted. We think we are overfamiliar with the power of celebrity endorsement. There will never be an end to such an invitation until the end of time and beyond. Both living and gone legends will have their own space in our drive towards building a lasting brand association lest we forget the Charlie Chaplin, Safirio Madzikatire (Mukadota), Philip Gadzikwa Mushangwe (Paraffin) and many more. They still talk in our living and their association is one that some of our gone and forgotten founders of SMEs would have capitalised and invested in for continual recognition and profits. Therefore, it is a matter of avoiding deliberate extinction. Displays on our point of purchases also comes with its association gain or cost. There is a certain order that our customers expect when they deal with us in terms of arrangement. Yet we always do this as a smokescreen rather than reality that talks us and mind expectations of our customers. Everyone wants to associate with the best. There is need to be innovative here and match with the modernised expectation of our customers. Which then escalates to a level of how the enterprise and its customers conduct itself with the customers from a hospitality perspective to be a customer concern in all aspects. To many it is business as usual (need for a new view there). Brands sometimes fail to talk but that cheerful human behind the symbols and structures can simply ignite a lasting association. It’s a decision and of course a low hanging fruit. There is need for:

Real brand promotion

We should go beyond the usual to understand what the best mode for our promotion can be. These channels do not die but they engage at different times depending on your market type. Not all will be advertised and promoted well through digitalised media. Even the traditional print and broadcasting still have a space. Therefore, there is need for a self-introspect to understand that which is best for you rather than do a copy and paste.

Understanding the customer

The easiest channel is to first define the one you call a customer to your enterprise. This then accelerates to segmentation where you can go beyond the counter to personal visits and engagements. We then match in every aspect and the association that builds is one that will last to the moon and space if not beyond.

Structuring brand association

It is important to turn our operations into ones that are viable for association rather than silos. Where there is no seniority or minority in the presentation. A culture of wowing and be present in all our members (managers and employees) to represent the brands’ excellence in every aspect of life. Let it be and our brand associates escalation will be endless.

  • Dr Farai Chigora is a businessman and academic. He is the Head of Business Science at the Africa University’s College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Governance. He is into agribusiness and is a consultant. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted for feedback and business at fariechigora@gmail.com, WhatsApp mobile: +263772886871.

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