THE SEVEN COMMANDMENTS OF BRANDING

In Nigeria, like in other parts of the world, personalities, corporations and governments have over the years employed branding to dominate competition and win the marketing war. However, given the peculiarities and social complexity of Africa, managers of global brands often discover, sometimes at great cost, that their strategies need a bit of weakling for them to succeed in Africa, In this essay, WALE ALABI in nuggets based on the seminal book, The Seven Dimensions Of Brand Building From The African Perspective, by Muyiwa Kayode, CEO,USP, the brand management company, offers tips to brand builders and custodians of brands from the African angle…

First Commandment: In articulating a sound vision, an important question to ask is: Why do we exist? It is common to make mistake of answering this questions with “To make money”. This is based on the general belief that every business exists purely for profit. While profit is essential for the survival of the businesses, it must never be regarded as the company’s reason for being. From the outset, brand vision helps chart marketing course for the company. When Microsoft envisions a computer in every home and Microsoft in every computer, there is an automatic marketing objective implicitly stated in the vision. Or when a bank envisions its account holder in every home, it instantly sent a compelling message to its stakeholders. Every employee becomes a crusader for the company, taking the bank offering to the entire sundry. The redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) that envisions a parish on every street the world is another classical illustration of this commandment. Because every worker of the church has bought into this vision.

Second Commandment: No one buys your products because they want you to make money: Yet you cannot make money unless they buy your product. So what would make them buy your product? You must offer value. In doing this, you must define value not only from your perspective, but from theirs. Companies will create better value propositions if they think more in terms of creating value rather than making profits. This is because the customer is essentially selfish and will patronize products or service only because his specific needs are being met by that product or service.

Third Commandment: The fear of a market definition that is “too narrow” is one of the reasons companies fail to develop a strong positioning platform. Yet it is futile trying being everything to everyone. Brand positioning has to do with how you want people to perceive your product or service relative to the competition and the things you do in order to achieve that desired perception.

Fourth commandment: Oftentimes there is a gap between the identity a company aims to create and what it actually ends up with. Several factors may be responsible for this. While the process of creating the visual identity is critical, subsequent communication and brand behaviour also play a vital role in shaping people’s perception of a company’s identity. The most easily recognizable aspect of brand identity is the visual aspect. This is what people see and remember. Yet there is more to brand identity than meets the eye. What constitutes the identity of a brand is a combination of many things. Identity must be able to appeal not only to the sense of sight but the other senses as well.

Fifth Commandments: Once you have articulated a brand promise, everything you say or do must reinforce that promise. Unfortunately, this rarely happens because most companies promise what they cannot deliver, while, others promise different things at different times and never keep any of those promises.

Sixth Commandment: If more companies and their agencies could channel their creativity towards creating value, rather than attention grabbing adverts they would achieve a lot more. Unfortunately, what is prevalent is a quest for award winning adverts, rather than award winning brands.

Advertising is what you say while branding is what you do. It does not matter how attractive your advert layout is or how elegant the graphics are, if the advert does not contain a compelling value proposition, it’s a waste of money.

Seventh Commandment: Our nation building efforts must recognize the difference between branding and advertising. This is the kind of thinking that builds great brands. We cannot become great by saying it. We have to do great things!

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