By Rohi Mhere
IDENTITY is preserved in names and it is amazing how crucial a name can be. Names are used to define who we are and what we represent, they embody culture and create a sense of confidence if properly used. Majority of the people run after English names to name their businesses with the perception that they sound good, but to whom do they sound good? The truth is we ignore the one thing that gives a name power in business, it’s not language, but BRANDING.
After thought 1
Let’s clear the confusion, it is not the name that is good but the Branding that comes with the name. Branding is manipulating or changing how people perceive your brand, and so when you brand your business you are trying to create a visual perception in the mind of the consumer that will either attract them to your business or chase them away. And so if you check today, the dilemma is that most African Entrepreneurs are chasing after English names, thinking they sound good, the real point is we are trying to get an approval from other people instead of ourselves. African names from your native language embody confidence, culture and boldness. Note this“it is not the name that is bad, but it is the Branding that is bad “, you yourself have created a bad visual perception about your brand in the mind of the consumer.
After thought 2
The Continent is being taken over by businesses from abroad, not because our product is inferior to theirs but because we are unable to prove ourselves to be competitive, our own people are avoiding our products because of how we “present them”. Being competitive begins from your businesses visual outlook it shows the seriousness you have towards establishing yourself to be a Global brand.
Who wants to make a million Dollar business deal with a person that looks desperate, confused, drained and above all they look poor? No-one right!
That is exactly how most of our African Brands are looking today, we are failing to be competitive because our visual outlook is shunning out outside investors and consumers. If one day your African brand is going to be very competitive on the Global stage we have to start with those Vital elements of a brand we ignore so much, let’s start by improving how our business looks and changing how our brand is perceived in the minds of people. Brands contain a personality that needs to be maintained.
After thought 3
We have very Big businesses in our country and beyond at large, the likes of Econet Wireless, Nyaradzo Group, Nash paints, Sakunda Holdings, Simbisa brands, MTN, Dangote group etc.
These businesses are making noise and setting an example to the African community. This is not because they are being run by the Whiteman, No! But it is because they have understood that building a brand is like nurturing a child, you teach that child how to behave in the presence of people, you give that child character and before you know it everyone is in love with your child. That is what the leaders of these businesses have understood, they understand what it means to build a world class Brand. We ought to learn from them and what they have accomplished, let us treat those brands like our big brothers and appreciate the pace they have set for us. It is not that we will not reach them, we will, but that will only be after we start focusing on the important thing which is branding.
After thought 4
I remember back in my high-school days when I used to play Rugby, our coach used to give us what we called a game plan, this plan illustrated how we were going to play the game, as a team we knew what worked and what did not work. We were regarded as one of the best teams in Harare. How did we win? The reason we won was not because our team contained better players than the opposing team, sometimes you would actually see that our team and the opposing team had the same muscle, but what really differentiated us from them was the strategy we used to play the game.
That is the same today with your business. As entrepreneurs we should stop this system of putting our businesses out there without properly preparing them for the game and the competition to come. That is why you find most businesses shutting down, sometimes it is not because they had poor products from their competition. They might actually have had much better products compared to their competition but because they lacked strategy they had to lose the game. Business is not a game of “whatever happens”, business is a game of Strategy and proper planning.
What does strategy do?
Proper strategy wins the game, it helps in creating a counter attack for your competition, just when they thought you had exhausted everything there is about your business you then introduce a new player in the game that is fresh and very hungry for success. Strategy really helps in positioning your business in the right way. That is why you find most top businesses in Europe or businesses that are leading the Global market employ Brand Strategists, they understand the value that is brought by that certain individual to the brand, he stands in as a coach who knows exactly how to train and prepare the team for the next season. Being competitive needs us to start focusing on Strategy, each Global brand uses its own strategy, there can never be the same.
After thought 5
Business is a game of muscle and being named the Macho-man needs you to be consistent in whatever you are doing with your business, just as long as it is competent enough to earn a place on the Global Stage. Sometimes in business, the strongest ones are the most consistent ones, look at Econet Wireless today, it is the biggest telecommunications company in Zimbabwe because it has prevailed the tough the economic environment, another good example is Nyaradzo Group, both these brands have in common is Consistency. That is the best quality one could ask for in a competent brand that aims for the Global Stage. The more we give up on being consistent our businesses will continue to fail, gaining muscle on the market does not require you to be a quitter it requires you to really drive yourself forward and standing your ground in being innovative.
Rohi Mhere is a Pan-African Brand Designer, Brand Strategists, Brand Manager and Brand consultant with a demonstrated history in the industry, he is also the founder of Drop Studios a brand design consultant Agency based in Marondera. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org or on his WhatsApp number: 071 682 0699.