Culled from This Day
Managing Partner, Brandzone Consulting, Chizor Malize, spoke to Raheem Akingbolu on the importance of driving branding and marketing solutions through value innovation and the need for business owners to have clear understanding of the market before rolling out their businesses. Excerpts:
Need for Market Understanding
With many business owners within and outside African continent looking in the direction of the Nigerian market, the terrain has become more competitive. Consumers too have become more sophisticated and selective. As a result of this, each of the players is engaging the market through different positioning tools to gain competitive edge. Of course, some have come out with tales of good results while some have failed.
Some experts have linked the failure of businesses to poor approach of the players. Those who hold the belief have often argued that most businesses fail because their promoters have little or no understanding about the market. The Managing Partner at Brandzone Consulting, Chizor Malize, belongs to this group.
Malize, though admitted that Nigerian market is promising. She stated that any brand owner that has no clear understanding of the market would fail. For those who have no clear understanding of the market, especially foreigners, who want to be an active player, she urged them to always seek the assistance of experts who have local insights.
“Smart businesses and corporations today seek organisations with local insights and deep market understanding to ensure that branding and marketing solutions offered to them are also locally relevant and impactful to the target audience. The Nigerian market is a very unique one and peculiar to a great degree and the solutions that are proven to work in other markets may be irrelevant to the Nigerian market,” she said.
The import of what Malize said is that brand owners need to identify and work with branding experts, who understand the needs of business, the peculiarity of the markets and the dynamic minds of the consumers which are crucial to any branding and marketing programme.
Branding and Advertising
Clarifying the seeming confusion between Branding and Advertising, Malize explained that “Branding is the process involved in creating a unique name, an interesting identity and a remarkable image for a product or business in the consumers’ mind, while advertising is used as a tool for bringing the brand to life thereby “expressing” the brand.
“While branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market place, advertising is deployed through campaigns to drive consistency of communication about the brand. In all both processes are crucial in creating a successful brand”.
Speaking further she said branding is a way of clearly highlighting what makes an organisation’s offer different and more desirable than any other offering within the same category.
She said: “Effective branding elevates a product or organisation from being just one commodity amongst many identical commodities, to become something with a unique character and promise. It takes cutting edge strategy capability to define and achieve this for brands.”
Building Sustainable SMEs
Malize also spoke about the opportunities in branding for the small and medium size businesses (SME) that do not have huge marketing budgets but also seek to build their corporate or products brands.
She pointed out that many people operating in this level of business often see branding as a solution meant for bigger organisations while some branding experts see branding as an exclusive purview of the multi-nationals and large corporate bodies due to the huge financial investments required. To her, this should not be the case.
“It is absurd for SMEs to embrace branding just like multinationals and it is the responsibility of experts to design solutions for all strata of the market, depending on the target market and size of the business. For instance, at Brandzone, like a few consulting firms, we have solutions designed to suit the budget of growing businesses different from the matured and established operations.
“We work with our clients based on their scope of operation, which is relative to their scope of branding and marketing needs. We seek to grow with businesses as they grow, mapping and charting the course jointly and cooperatively and helping them surmount their branding and marketing needs as they grow their businesses and markets”, she added.
Speaking on the challenges faced by brands that are not able to sustain initial success, dying off or withering after a while, Malize pointed out that besides creating brand differentiations within similar brand categories, brand revitalisation is also key for every product or business.
“The attention span of the individual consumer is very short, therefore businesses must continue to tweak their brands and brand messages to create and maintain resonance with the target market/consumer”, she enthused.
“Some businesses make the mistakes of keeping their brands within dangerous circle of birth, maturity, plateau, decline and death. Without any marketing support, even the strong brands begin to wither and eventually face death. The secret of brand revitalisation which endears continuous growth lies in consumer research.
“While mature brands have great heritage, and are often very highly-rated by the consumers who have thoroughly enjoyed positive experience with them, every brand must seek to remain relevant to the consumers. This means frequent interaction with the consumers through brand research and diagnostic to ensure that both the brand offerings and the positioning remain relevant to the consumers and the market. Through consistent brand communication and positioning campaigns, the consumers must be frequently reminded of the emotional and functional benefits of the brand in a way that resonates with consumers,” she stated.
Speaking on the key differentiator for Brandzone, she said the firm’s strength lies in deep research and strategy capabilities. “Brandzone engages in a lot of broad research which is significant and core to its operations,” she noted.
According to Malize, “Research is very critical to our operations. It is a key differentiator for us. As brand strategists, we leverage research for deep market and consumer insight. With strategy at the core of our operations you cannot evolve strategy without market research and consumer insight. Research is also critical to the success of the brand campaigns and brand activation projects we run for the brands in our portfolio. It is therefore fundamental to the process of Branding and brand management”.
The managing partner also stated that the consulting firm was a globally-inspired firm, which partners clients to achieve high performance with measurable bottom line impact.
“We offer value-driven services thereby increasing buyer value. Strategy and planning are at the core of our operations. We work with clients to evolve brand strategies and strong positioning for their brands. Added to that is the efficiency in planning making execution and the brand management process very seamless and result yielding. Being a mid-size, youthful and dynamic organisation, we are quick to market making delivery speedy, personal and rich in value.” She added.
Chizor Malize Profile
Chizor Malize is the Managing Partner of Brandzone with client portfolio across diverse sectors cutting across Banking, Airline, Automobile, Manufacturing and Oil & Gas. She holds a Masters (Degree) in Business Administration (MBA) with specialty in Marketing, with Executive Education in London Business School.
A professional member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), London, She facilitates courses in Brand Management and Marketing at the prestigious Lagos Business School.