Wednesday, July 28Inside Business Africa
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Branding and your Business: How to leverage branding for business growth – Emeka Ebeniro

Emeka Ebeniro

What is Branding and why is it important to your business?

Once again thank you so much Inside Business Africa for this opportunity, before I talk about branding let’s talk about what a brand is and then we talk about branding, a brand basically is an embodiment of a promise, it is a store house of trust, it is an embodiment of promise so what that means is as a product, as a human, as a business, you’re a brand and what you bring to the table is your promise, so the process of executing or expressing that promise up and also building trust is branding so branding as we know it is a marketing practice where we see creating a logo, having a design and doing all those things that are part of the brand element but those things are done or we see those things or we call those branding because we want to gain trust and also consistently uphold that promise that the brand has promised to do or the brand stands for, so branding is an expression of a brand through logo, design, experiences and what not, those things make up the branding and those things are the processes that we call branding.

Now why is it important to a business? It is important because a business needs to be known, a business needs to be liked and a business needs to be trusted so that people can do business with you, you only do business with people you trust so when you buy a phone, when you buy a laptop, a tablet is because you trust the people behind that particular product that is why you’re doing business with them, if you don’t trust that they will deliver on the quality that they have promised through their communication you would not buy from them, so you’re buying from them because you trust them, why do you trust them? Because of their branding, they’ve used their communication, they’ve used their colors, their logos, their brand stories to get you to trust them that is why you’re doing business with them so as a business owner if you want to increase your sales you need to brand yourself the right way through all these things that I’ve mentioned that is telling the right story, having the right brand elements, this way people would trust you and will do business with you.

How does Branding affect a business?  

Branding affects a business because branding in itself like I said earlier is a process of gaining trust, now why are you gaining trust? Because you want people to do business with you and also you want to use your branding to differentiate yourself from every other person in your category, so as a business you want to be able to say you know what I know that there are 10 – 20 people that do this same business that I do but guess what you can trust me, guess what we’re different, so you use your branding to differentiate yourself and also to get people to always expect that promise that I talked about which is your brand so you use that to let people know that you deliver on your word.

Let me give a simple example, you go to your favorite pastry store where you buy your meat pie, doughnut etc. you trust them enough to buy from them all the time because you know that they will deliver on their promise and what is their promise? Their promise is that you would get the same quality of pastry anytime you come, that is the trust, so how do they express that trust, and how do they differentiate themselves from every other person that is doing that same business of being a pastry? Through like what we call it the Branding, through their logo, through the way the store is set up, through their colors, through their pay off, through the way their staffs welcome you, there are some places in Lagos that when you walk in they will clap for you and there are some places in Lagos when you mention that it is your birthday the staff of the pastry store or restaurant will sing for you, they will get you a candle, they will celebrate you, that is branding, that is what they are doing to get you to trust them and keep coming back so as a business if you’re looking for affordable strategies that would help you differentiate yourself and also help you gain trust from customers branding  is the way to go.

As a startup business, if I don’t decide to brand my business can I still make sales?

You can make sales but your sales would be limited and that’s the truth you can make sales but your sales would be limited, let me put it this way there are two levels in business and in life, if you just want to survive, if you just want to take one day at a time and say like the Yorubas would say it let’s just thank God that we are alive, we will just go through the day, we are not dominating the day, we will just survive through the day now as a business owner if you just want to survive you don’t need to do branding you won’t take branding seriously but if you want to dominate, if you want to scale the hurdle, if you don’t want to live your life like today might be the last day of your business, ,meaning anything can happen you need to take branding seriously because like I said earlier it is an affordable measure, an affordable strategy you can use to scale your business so you don’t necessarily have to have all the money to do all the big adverts and all that but the little things you do, your customer service, the way you speak on the phone, the way you write your emails, your email signature, all these other touch points you deliberately put in that promise in all these touch points, it would help you scale because when people get the right experience from your brand, from your product, they will be your marketers, they will be your evangelists, they will tell other people that you know what these people, product is really good why don’t you use it and that is how your business will scale at that level as a stat up, as a startup you don’t have a lot of money, you’re doing other forms of marketing and promotions but you can make sure that you can have the right branding so that  it would help you grow.

For example if I hire a cook and the cook decides to go against my recipe could that be a disadvantage to my brand and could there be disadvantages in branding?

Yes in line with the example you gave, yes that would definitely affect brand image and brand perception and like we all know perception is reality, it is what people think about you that is what you are and it is not just what you think about yourself, it is not enough for you to think something about yourself and not express it so in that scenario the organization, there has been some challenges with the organizational culture and structure, organizational culture meaning that everybody has ownership and they all take the business as they are part owners of the business. Organizational structure meaning that we have rules and code of ethics and if the organization has a way of cooking jollof rice or making meat pie that is the way we would follow because it is part of our organizational culture and structure now that would affect your brand because I as a customer that comes and taste your meat pie, no this is not the way I know it to be, it begins to push me off a little bit because I’m like this is not the promise that you told me of, can I get the consistent quality? I begin to question your brand, now at that first point there is a light bulb moment that has been turned on and if this happens for a few more times I will definitely take my business somewhere else because it looks like you’re not meeting up to your promise and that is why so many businesses lose customers, is not just the fact of pricing, it is the fact that even with the pricing that has been agreed you’re not delivering on your promise so you can lose customers that way, other ways you can lose customers is being inconsistent with your brand and your brand message, so you say one thing today you do something tomorrow, you say you’re red today we see you as yellow tomorrow that would really affect your brand so as a small business, as an individual, as the owner the business of you need to be consistent with your message, you need to be consistent with your content, you need to be consistent with your imagery, which is your image, how people perceive you, the way your store looks is it consistent, so I don’t come here today and I come tomorrow, is this the place I came into yesterday? So there has to be that level of consistency, the way it looks, the way the staff treats me, the way it smell etc. there has to be consistent levels in that business so you have to preach and act excellently and all your communication it has to be consistent, your processes also matter which is part of what I call the 7 Ps of branding and mostly personal branding, your processes has to be consistent, your promise has to be consistent, the personality of your staff and the organization has to be consistent, your positioning which is how you want people see you and remember you for has to be consistent.

Like the example you sited your favorite restaurant or eatery, you know that they are consistent in a lot of ways, so when they stop being consistent you will be like, I’m not coming here anymore, I don’t like the way the food tasted, I don’t like the way the treated me, I complained and they didn’t do anything about and it happened a few more times and I decided that I’m out and that is it because there was inconsistency in what I call the Brand which is the promise.

How can Brand wars affect Branding?

Like I said earlier branding is an inexpensive strategy in the marketing spectrum, now for you as a brand you need to understand some basic things, what is my promise, what are my values and what makes me different? Now even if I’m the owner of the two businesses I need to brand both businesses different and both businesses need to cater to different audience

Let me break it down, in school Unilag, universities and all that, there are times that restaurants or some eateries people go there with their girlfriends, with their female friends so they go in twos and there are some places that they go alone now if I brand one place to be convenient and it is a meet up place for doubles it is going to help in that brand so that when people, my friend and I just want to eat somewhere and relax but the single place would be put in such a way that it is like a fast food, eat and move so the ambiance of one would be different from the other, the way the pricing and food is structured for the other, the Menu for one would be different from the Menu for the other and that is how you differentiate two brands even if you own both of them so one caters for this type of audience, the other caters for the other type of audience, why is that so? Because you understand the behavior that is part of branding that is part of marketing, you understand the behavior mindset of your audience and you know who exactly you want to target so you know that these guys might like some kind of music, place to sit down, charge their devices, all these little things you understand that and you give that to them but these other guys just want a place where they can eat and buy food in a cooler and move out, you give that to them and it now pretty much makes people know, so the audience know what they want, there is something I read about and it says “the owner of the business knows the price but the customers know the value” so in line the restaurant, the customers know the value of place 1 and place 2, but you will determine the price of place 1 and place 2, now let me give you a little secret, do you know that place 1 if you make it for doubles, there’s charging areas, there’s sitting areas and all that do you know that the food in place 1 can be more expensive than the food In place 2 and the people in place 1 will not complain, they will never complain because to them it suits what they want, so the owner of the place, the customer knows the value of what they’re getting, they can charge their phones, they can sit down there and gist, the place Is really nice, there is A/C or the fans working well, there’s always cold drinks, there’s a TV or radio that entertains they would add value to it but place 2 doesn’t have all that so the owner of the business knows the price, the customers know the value, now in branding you know your product, you create the product but your audience know the brand, so your audience are the ones that determine the brand, they’re the ones that would say this brand is good or not good, this brand is a big brand or not a big brand it is not you, your job is to consistently deliver that promise, it is to consistently brand yourself to meet them where they are through all their touch points, their job is to pick up all these things you have done and now create a perception, now if you want to increase your perception, you need to put in a little more work that way the perception increases that is why you see some places after maybe two, three, four years if they don’t take the place down, they will revamp the whole place, redesign here, do some nice interior work, the same owner, the same Menu, do some interior work and the prices go up, you are elevating the brand so that the customer who determines where the brand is would say yes , this is how it should be, this should be the price, this is because that is the value perception they have of that place.

Speaking on Brand Wars, a Particular brand may decide to copy your idea and steal your Target audience/Customers, what do you think could be done to resolve this?

What I would say is they need to be very creative, there is something that is called the first movers advantage, meaning I’m the first to get it done, not just being the first to get it done but also amplifying it and take the claim that I’m the first to do it.

You can’t blame a lot of people; some businesses are risk adverse meaning they do not want to take a lot of risk so they wait especially case in point in the Banking Industry and in the Telecomm Industry, there are some banks that always come up with new innovations, other banks wait a year or even two years to take it up, why? They want that bank that started that innovation to fail, they want to learn from their lessons, they want to see their mistakes and see if the technology or innovation works, so once they’ve certified that this innovation has worked for 12 months which is like a warranty on any product for it to work for up to 12 months so that means this things is okay, let us do it and this still goes down to the structure of the organization some organizations don’t like to take risk, some organizations don’t like to spend a lot of money on Research and Development, what is research and development, it is basically testing, it’s trial and error, so you see you go to a scientist or you go to any of these tech companies, or the phone or the laptop companies and you go to their lab and they’re buying devices, they’re buying components and they’re testing and testing and testing, that is research and development before they now finally come up with something that is good enough for the market, other people don’t either do not want to spend in that department or do not have the money to spend In that department, so as a small business you might not have a lot of money to spend in research and development so what do you? You pay attention to your audience, your customers what they’re saying, from their feedback, from their comments, you can take the learning from there and you can use that to improve on your process, or possibly come up with a new product without necessarily spending money in research and development so those are just a few ways trust me R and D, Research and development really works and talking about research and development as individuals we forget that we ourselves are brands but we are personal brands, we need to spend more time in our own research and development and what is it? Reading, listening to podcasts, reading books, attending conferences, attending seminars, trainings, workshops, things of that nature help you improve on your own personal R and D, that way you can get better and do better at what you do.

What is your advice to entrepreneurs, who are still in the business idea stage, regarding branding?  

Thank you so much for that question what is myadvice to entrepreneurs, who are still in the research stage, concerning branding, this is what I have to say to them, if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re listening to me today please take branding really seriously because branding like I said earlier is inexpensive marketing, it is a strategy that you apply to your business to grow your business, it is not too expensive why? It is going to differentiate you from your competition; it is going to help you solidify your relationship with your audience and also help you make you understand what to expect all the time, so please take your branding seriously, not so expensive and it is also something you can use to establish yourself so now as an entrepreneur the way you can get more business is by branding yourself, branding helps you establish perception you can increase your prices when you have the right brand and there are so many advantages that branding helps so please take it seriously you can contact an expert if you need help to help you with your brand trust me it is going to separate you from any other person so I give an example, if you buy let’s say zobo from person A that the bottle is just a regular bottle and there is this other zobo that is in a bottle that has this very nice label, the label and the cap of the bottle are the same brand colors let’s say yellow or blue or green and that in itself is also properly packaged in another packaging material and that is sent to you, who would you rather pay money for and they say this bottle is a thousand Naira and the other one says that my zobo that is not branded is 300 Naira you will say I am not buying the 300 Naira because I don’t know what is inside there, you would buy the one that is 1000 naira and why are you doing that? Yes because the perception of quality, the perception of taste and all that you have seen that and that is why you would buy that other one so please take your branding seriously and the sky like they say it is not your limit, it is just the starting point.

On Building his Career

Emeka Ebeniro is a Business and Brand Consultant, Personal Branding Coach, motivational speaker and exceptional content creator. He is an activator, igniting the potential and gifts in people so that they can do and be more.

He is a certified Integrated Marketing Communications Professional and Business Consultant with over 13 years of experience in Brand Management, Corporate Communications and Organizational Strategy.

Emeka has trained over 300 creators, coaches and leaders across 5 continents and helped them build powerful profitable brands for more influence, impact and income. He is the convener of the Personal Branding Summit, Africa’s #1 Global Summit on Personal Branding and host of Execute with Playemeka.

He is a Tech Entrepreneur and founder of KARAKURI, an ideas and innovation company, the brains behind www.seatsandtickets.com- Nigeria’s fastest-growing ticketing and access platform.

Before starting SeatsandTickets, Emeka was the Group Head, Strategy and Planning at TBWA\Concept, a leading Marketing Communications Agency. Working on local and international brands like Stanbic IBTC, Globacom, Society for Family Health, Nigerian Breweries, Swift Networks, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.

His mission is to help 10,000 individuals and businesses optimise potential, increase visibility and grow their income.

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