Power of branding

SHARE   |   Monday, 11 July 2016   |   By Father Maphongo
Power of branding

I have been asked to give a talk on one of the most challenging subjects in business. I want to thank BOCCIM… excuse me Business Botswana for the opportunity. You will excuse me Mr President for that slip up. But actually it was deliberate. I did that to demonstrate the power of branding: which is what I am here to talk about.Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business/organisation, large or small. But what exactly does "branding" mean? How does it affect an organisation such as this one? (Business Botswana).
• Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer.
• Your brand tells the customer what to expect from your products or services.
• Your brand differentiates your offering from your competitors'.
• Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. Who am I? That’s usually the first question you need to answer when developing your brand. Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? The wise one, the Father? The voice of business?  Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can't be both, and you can't be all things to all people.
Who you are should be based on who your target customers want and need you to be – you are obliged to be customers centric. Who you are is the reason for your existence.

Who you are, is the reason why we should as companies, your associates, your affiliates, your potential members be compelled to associate with you as Business Botswana. The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials - all of which should carry your logo - communicate your brand – indeed your signature.

1. Now that I have mentioned communication, this brings me to my next point. Communicating your brand message. This needs a well thought out plan or what my communication friends would refer to as Brand Strategy. Your brand strategy is basically the how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. I am sure many of us in this room have been exposed to the Bayport brand somewhere… it could be in newspapers, radio or television. I must assure you, we didn’t just happen to appear there… it was all part of an elaborate plan. When you walk into a Bayport branch you feel different. You must leave the brand that is your company; it should be your DNA, your culture. Our colours excite you; the people smile at you and speak kindly to you. You feel at home. Bayport is a welcoming brand, but if this is not communicated at this critical channel all our other efforts are in vain. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too. This relates and resonates well on how the BB staff should handle themselves, that they are the brand custodians and should work hard to improve the brand. That is a task for all individual employees, and you are severealy liable to carry the brand with yourselves and represent the organisation well wherever you are.

Knowing how to handle your customers depicts on the brand you are and the organisational image. Now once your strategy has been defined and communication commenced, you then need to be consistent in your delivery. Consistent strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company's products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soft drink. Because Coca-Cola has built powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product--and customers will pay that higher price. I always find it easier to explain equity in real estate. Defining your brand is a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable, but at the end most satisfying.  It requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below: What is your company's mission? What are the benefits and features of your products or services? What am I buying as your customer what value am I deriving from the relationship? What do your customers and prospects already think of your company? What qualities do you want them to associate with your company? Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don't rely on what you think they think. Know what they think. And I know the good people of Business Botswana know exactly what their customer want. Or at least they know what I want. I am their customer. So I look forward to the reveal of the new Business Botswana brand.

With those moderate teachings allow me to mention that this event tonight marks an important milestone in the history of Business Botswana. I hear this year the organisation is celebrating 45 years of existence as the voice of the private sector in this country that is constantly and rapidly evolving. This is no small achievement as we have over the years experienced many challenges that were threatening the doing of business in the country. As per the mandate of Business Botswana its main mission is to advocate for a private sector driven economy by promoting economic reforms to put Botswana on a higher economic growth path in order to generate wealth, prosperity and jobs. As gathered here to witness the grand launch of the BB corporate Identity. The launch of this identity or logo signals growth following the change of name from Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) to Business Botswana as from the 9th July 2016. The organisation has been in transition to become fully operational as an Apex Body. Business Botswana had to undergo rebranding in order to align the corporate identity with the new strategic direction of the company; to reposition the company in a dynamic, competitive business environment; and to get all key stakeholders to reconnect with the company’s new and broader value proposition as it has been introducing its new services.

The new name and now the new identity is a symbol of an invigorated chamber of commerce. This is exciting to have all stakeholders reconnect with this brand and its proposition. BB has to continuously remind its customers of its new commitment to serving them; and assure them of the trust that they can continue to have in the BB brand. I am thrilled that you found it befitting to reinvigorate the beloved brand being launched tonight. It is such a bold step on the part of Business Botswana to seek to reposition itself in this ever-changing environment, so as to remain competitive and relevant. I congratulate BB and wish them the very best on this transition. Like I have mentioned when coming up with a new brand, we introspect on who we are, who our clients are and what we want to all our stakeholders. In the eyes of many we know you as the voice of business. A new identity can do wonders for your company’s image, but without laying the groundwork for a smooth brand transition, you’re likely to throw your audience for a loop, or in more extreme cases, an all-out anti-rebrand rebellion.
The organisation

learned this lesson when it changed the name BOCCIM to Business Botswana. The same will apply now when you roll out a redesigned logo without explaining exactly what made this new mark significant to an already iconic brand, or why the rebrand was necessary in the first place. Long story short, Human beings crave stories.  Some will just wish it was different and some will criticize for no apparent reason.  But the fact is that the human mind wants to know the meaning behind everything, and like it or not, that includes your brand’s new identity. Take the opportunity to tell your identity transition story, from why a brand shift was necessary, to the reasons why this new mark fits your organisation. I wish to thank you all for your enthusiasm and support towards Business Botswana. I truly believe, that together we will continue to accomplish significant work for the greater good and lead the change to achieve our goal as the voice of the private sector. Thank you all for coming to celebrate with us.

This is part of the Chairman of Bayport Financial Services Botswana, Father Maphongo’s speech at the launch of Business Botswana (BB) new logo and brand.