Zimbabwe Business: “If You’re Not Branding Your Business…”


Branding: It Worked for these guys!

“If You’re Not Building A Brand…”

I speak to as many as 10 – 20 entrepreneurs a week (I used to do that many daily). 9 out of 10 have no idea what marketing really is. Sure they all advertise in the Herald, email Dipleague, throw fliers around,  word of mouth and what not… but I’ve yet to meet one whose results can’t be doubled, just by changing their marketing approach. Listen…here’s a fact:

Marketing  is the single most powerful, flexible and actionable leverage opportunity in your business.

An example: An A5 size advert in the Herald will cost $300usd – whether it yields 1 customer or 100. Often, just by changing the strategy used in your ad, you can multiply your results by as much as 1000%! No joke.

And one of the biggest marketing leverage opportunities Zimbabwean entrepreneurs are missing out on?

Branding!

If you’re not branding, you’re not really going anywhere in business. You’re not building anything. Branding is super-duper important. (Does anyone still say ‘super-duper?’)

Branding: It’s an overused and little understood word and I don’t talk much about here for two reasons

1) Branding strategy requires such a mega mind-set shift for most Zimbabwean businesspeople that I’d have to write a whole series of detailed posts to really show you how powerful and important it is and how to do it. I wish I had that kind of time.

2)      Most are stuck in crisis mode so I tend to focus on teaching things you can action now and benefit from by end of week. You can’t do that with proper branding when you’re starting off or struggling.

But heck…gotta start somewhere right? Consider this a first in a haphazard series on making your brand rock!


In many ways, I’ve come to think of Zimbabwe as a ‘Brand-less society’ – that is to say, very few powerful brands actually exist (or remain). Some, like Wimpy, ZBC or Kingstons Books store are mere shadows of their former selves…has beens. Most are even worse – ‘never will bes’. Sure, some successful brands exist, but they’re few and in limited categories – leaving much of the market wide open for smart entrepreneurs – that’s you!

See, despite a mass exodus from formal employment to self employment and business, in recent years, we still have very few (local) power house brands emerging. Everyone’s been too busy surviving to build a brand. Problem is:

Zimbabwean Entrepreneurs have become opportunists, tactical and episodic instead of strategic.

As it stands now, very few actually know how to play a ‘patience game’.  A mid to long-term strategic game. This, my friend, is a massive opportunity for you. Can you see it?

So what is a brand anyway?

Here’s the one paragraph version: A brand is a symbol or word that identifies and distinguishes you in your market place. Through marketing, it’s possible to establish emotional connection (and meaning) between the brand and the market. When done right, this emotional connection serves as the logic or criteria by which the market makes buying decisions.  Make sense? If not try this

  • Coca-cola isn’t the best selling soft drink because it’s the best tasting.
  • Dr Phil isn’t America highest paid Shrink because he’s the smartest
  • A Nike tick on a sneaker doesn’t raise it’s quality, but it does raise it’s perceived value (and price).

What do all the above have in common? People no longer make their buying decisions based on intellectual or factual logic. They buy because of what they’ve come to believe the brands represent. A White T-shirt with a plain black (Nike) tick costs 200% more than one with a more creative, nicer looking but lesser known brand. They buy because very smart entrepreneurs and marketers (behind the scenes) designed a new emotional buying criteria for the market.

Why you should care

Because

  • In competitive or complicated market conditions where choosing is difficult, people use mental short cuts to avoid risk…those short cuts are called brands.
  • When you’re expanding your business from one location to two – to another town or country, a strong brand will fast forward the marketing process for you.
  • A brand will make you more recognizable and memorable
  • If you ever hope to sell your business, you’ll sell for pennies without a ‘real’ brand
  • In a price driven economy/ competitive plain, strong brands get to charge A LOT more than weak (none existent) brands

Hold up…let’s talk about that last one for a sec…Some may disagree.

I often hear – “but my market only buys on price. ” “In this kind of economy, no one can afford to pay more” “I’m just starting out, so I’m going to gain entry by being cheap!” and on and on.

What a joke.

See, price matters most where brands are weak. When there’s little distinction between two products, price is all that’s left.

But truth is, VERY few people are genuine ‘price shoppers’. For example, right now, are you wearing the cheapest clothes you could find in town?

Really. Is that the Cheapest shirt available in Harare?

Assuming you could find that shirt, would you even wear it?

Truth is even if you’re financially challenged, you’re wearing the most affordable shirt that you like. You’re probably not running your business from the cheapest office in the city either. It’s the most affordable office that was acceptable to you. On Valentine’s day, were you really looking around for the cheapest present in the CBD? Your next business meeting: will you take your potential client to the cheapest restaurant you can afford? See, even you’re not a pure price shopper.

Neither is your customer.

Oh and did you notice the Christmas toys Spar (Letombo) was selling this last December? They went like hot cakes. Yet the EXACT same toys were being sold by the Zhing-Zhong shops down town – 1000% cheaper. Spar’s brand allows them to do that.

Bottom line: If you’re not intentionally (and skillfully) building a brand, you don’t have a real business strategy. You’re probably tactical or episodic in your approach. You’re not really going anywhere. And even if you’re making ‘good’ money now, you’re making a fraction of what you truly deserve.

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3 thoughts on “Zimbabwe Business: “If You’re Not Branding Your Business…”

  1. Fantastic as usual my understanding is a brand is an intangible symbolic embodiment of everything (negative and positive) connected to and used to identify items or services, an organisation or a person and to differentiate it from its competitors. It is also the summation or collection of all perceptions, experiences and beliefs associated the items or services, organisation or a person in the mind of a consumer.

    Branding is the active process of distinguishing an item or service and an organisation or person.

    Think about this …In the beginning (intangible) GOD (Brand Identity), Created (tangible) the heavens and the Earth (Brand identity and Brand differentiation)… and God saw that it was Good (Brand Value). Then God said let us (Brand Interaction) make man – Adam (Brand name) in Our own image, according to Our likeliness (Brand attributes) and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (Target Market) The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being (Brand packaging). Then the Lord God said it is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him (Market Research) God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female (Brand architecture) God Blessed them (Brand launch and campaign) and God said to them “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Brand Positioning). Then God said behold I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the earth and every tree that has fruit yielding seed, it shall be food for you (Capital) Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden (Market place) to cultivate it and keep it (return on investment). Then the Lord God commanded the man (Brand Management), saying “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely (Free enterprise) but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat… (Brand loyalty) So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept, then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place (Rebranding) The man said “This is now bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man” (Public relations and advertising). Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and what ever the man called a living creature, that was its name. (Brand name) And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Brand equity) Now the serpent (Competition) was more crafty… When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate (Brand trail) and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate (word of mouth) Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked (Brand awareness). Then the Lord God said to the woman what have you done (Brand personality) … therefore the lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden (Price) Now the man had relations with his wife EVE and she conceived and gave birth to Cain and Abel (Sub brands)

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