BY FARAI CHIGORA
As we transform our enterprises through the art of branding, we should do so considering the need for a lasting existence in the minds of our customers. Positive brand popularity through investing in projected publicity should be the driving force in this achievement. In the previous editions we exposed the critical contributions made by brand leadership and strategy. These I refer to as internal brand controls (where the brand architecture begins and takes-off into the targeted and unknown selling zones). Imperatively it gives birth to wider external routes where we then go beyond storytelling into mind capturing of the people/markets we serve through our sustained entrepreneurial brands. As once said by Jay Baer, “Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa”.
In this edition we then look at brand publicity matters (as a paddle acceleration into real market existence). In my several discussions with some of our growing entrepreneurs I was convinced that most of the brand housekeeping has been done. Publicity of well-crafted brands and their elements is what we need to do now so as to be in the limelight. In fact, that is the power of our association in this branding focus where we do not only talk about brand-selling points but effective publicity channels that takes us into global markets for real business. Of course, we have talked about brand awareness in other previous editions but little on the mechanisms that spearhead this achievement. Sometimes we do less or more than our capacity/expected in the process of our brand publicity but this discussion will leave us with more choices on what’s best for us as the key drivers (situational brand publicity management). Where we should put on brand publicity shoes that fits our size well. Those tools that are less costly, that blends with our systems, that are from our ecology and those that meet with the contemporary world of techno-marketing and branding. Let’s start with direct/personal marketing as a most convenient tool for the SMEs brand publicity. This is when you as the owner of an enterprise become the brand publicity locomotive. I believe anyone can do this and it is more natural also less costly. We go out there, we smile and tell/showcase our brand story to the world. This reminds us that when running our businesses we will then become their representatives such that the SME’s brand publicity begins with us. That is when we go for direct sales, meetings, trips, ceremonies, expos and any other form of gathering. People should see that brand in the same way we do and interact with it. I am always made to wonder when I see my enterprising colleagues making their brands a secret. They don’t want to be associated with their brands’ colour(s), logos, themes and other elements in the form of their corporate wear, car branding and any possible personal representation. We needed to be our own brand ambassadors as the direct marketers for publicity (we know our brand meaning and importance better than any other). Another closer tool for accelerated brand publicity is advertisement. Of course, this can be seen as traditional, but it adds on to more visibility and lasting publicity in the present day and the future of our enterprises. Look at how vividly you recall and internalise the Chibuku hari yemadzisahwira or Always Coca-Cola advertisements. It is because of that drive and commitment that has been stamped by the founders.
Adverts are a good form for a lasting branding publicity. They sell your brand to the mass, especially when you apply the right platform (such as broadcasting and the World Wide Web platforms). Yet our SMEs takes this as a waste of investment. You are missing a lot here and it is high time to take a closer look and consider this node in a broader spectrum. Which then extends to various brand publicity platforms which are proving to be working wonders in this modern global competition of our brands. That is the invitation of social media branding. This is proving to be catalytic in the publicity of various global brands through its convenience to the eyes and ears of the individuals/public. That is the use of Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and any other. The sky is the limit here. I am happy that many our enterprises are in this drive though there is need not to overdo (a discussion for the future on the needed balance for compatibility in applying these forms of media). The advantage of these applications is that they make all intangible aspects of the brand visible through animations, moving graphics, visualisations and audios. Real brands should walk, talk and gather through attending to local and global expos. Many of our SMEs reckon this as a game for the giants and in some instances for the elite. No!! You are also a first citizen in these publicity platforms. The Dubai Expo came and those who showcased their SME brands now part of the global talks and giving their success testimonies (so you can do the same too and why waiting?). These do not only give you attendance publicity but partnerships, fellowships, followerships and brand extensions which make your brand even more visible. Same with our local ZITF and Agricultural Shows, they bring with them exclusive visibility for the SMEs brands. Another incredible tool for brand publicity is a movement from just a mere brochure to a newsletter. It is through a newsletter where we capture the minds and souls of the public as we share our brand experience. When we talk about our milestones as thriving brands, our brand networks across the globe and the future of our brand as we foresee. People are attracted to visionary brands those that share experience and promise eternity (beyond living).
Lastly, for this edition even though many of us are digital immigrants the world is not stopping in this drive. Our modern customers are making their brand evaluation/buying decisions using online platforms. Websites have become a key connector to global publicity. It is high time we should have our own websites as branded SMEs. This is what this age for entrepreneurship through branding is calling for. We can even outsource technocrats to develop our websites according to our offerings and brand specifications. These have become a basis for a composite showcase of all brand elements also driven by artificial intelligence (one that can talk to the world about your brand in your absence). I will leave you with the words from Gary Vaynerchuk: “The incredible brand awareness and bottom-line profits achievable through social media marketing require hustle, heart, sincerity, constant engagement, long-term commitment, and most of all, artful and strategic storytelling….”. We can do this my colleagues and as we brand in this age entrepreneurship for real industrialisation.
- 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 consults for many companies. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted for feedback and business at [email protected], WhatsApp mobile: +263772886871.