BY FARAI CHIGORA In our drive towards brand success we benchmark progress made so far through brand partnerships. This is a vital cog for measuring SME growth in the age of industrialisation through entrepreneurship. It is a strategic drive as we engage and work together with other brands in serving a huge market than any time before. These will become alliances rather than competition (remembering that no one wants to partner with slow movers on the market). So if a request to partner comes your way be happy that you making real brand progress.
This is even a bonus to us as home grown start-ups who are yet to be global. When we are invited to partner with giants of our industry and any other related. They come with other resources that we don’t have to further uplift our brand visibility (also being cautious of hostile takeovers). Those in the school of economics refer to this as marketing economies of scale (a synergic approach in SME brand transformation through collaborated marketing). Besides the increased visibility that big brands can do here we become more trusted by our present/future markets and any other likely to be a partner/shareholder. The customers will also base their decision to consume your offerings on the confidence that others have sacrificed their brands to partner with you so they can too. This shows that you are worth the game. It is the right time to think big. As they say, there is strength in numbers!! In this case through developing a brand tag team that will dominate and takeover the whole market.
Yes, sometimes we become too jealous and protective of the business idea we have developed and turned into a popular brand but we also need others to grow with us through partnerships. Just like that your child will one day merry and grow into a bigger family. This can also be reflected in the form of a real business growth. It is an outcome of the brand recognition that we have built over the years and the confidence in our brand not only to expand in the same line of production/industry but to venture in other different industries/expertise. Like said before this is a strategic move and we should not try with errors but perfection. In this edition we will try to eliminate brand partnership risks through practice.
To start with we are in a business to serve a wide range of customers so as our brand partnerships. There should be a link between your targeted customers and those of your prospective partners. It should not be like you are starting afresh through brand partnerships. The products/services you provide should link/relate somehow either in a backward form or forward. Like the relationship between a brand that is in water purification and beverages production. There is a perfect link here. As successful partnership will seek to know the central pivot for connection through a common brand audience. Then market acceptance will be a walk in the park.
Also in this digitally revolutionised world social media influencers are critical towards brand partnerships. They come as message conveyors to the right audience about the brand partnership(s) you have or yet to establish. This is critical especially at the piloting stage where the new promises are published and market response is supposed to be measured. The demonstrations in the form of real life acts/drama, audio and video projections will help connect with the targeted markets through social media. The success measurement can be the likes and number of followers on that social platform. So it is important to hire/engage with the experienced social media influencers. Those who know your products/services better and even your markets by their needs and form of satisfaction.
As aforementioned you need to have some conveyors of your brand partnerships but it is also important not to be compromised in the same process. The personality that you have made in your brand’s inception should not be diluted but is supposed to lead the new brand partnership talk(s). There is a reason why your own brand has been popular and attractive to these new partnerships. For sure it is the personality of that brand. Hence there is need to safeguard that personality and let it keep on the leading the way as you showcase the new collaborated brand storytelling.
There is nothing as destructive as getting into a brand partnership covenant blindly. That is without forecasting and agreeing how the brand promotion will be done in the engagement. Where the new brand focus will be and who will be responsible for what. We become silos in these partnerships if the expectations of both are not tabled and agreed on. We are likely to expedite brands extinction if these are not clarified. Just like in any form of a game there are guiding rules to be followed. This is not for housekeeping but to safeguard the brand investment done so far by both parties. There should not be a point in time where you doubt yourself and effort made in partnering.
Lastly it is important to view these brand partnerships as strategic in the sense that sometimes we have to review and restrategise. It is not the end of the world but building of a new world. There is keep to be in track of the brand partnership(s) so as to adjust where progress is not showing. The last thing to do is to terminate a brand partnership because more will be lost/compromised by both parties. Instead adjustments and corrections will show/reflect commitment that will even further attract more customers when they see you together forever. It becomes an eternity approach to brand partnerships. So there is need to keep on the review and true to each other in strengthening brand partnerships. As they say it takes two to tango. I leave all to you as we go forward and never backward.
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- Dr Farai Chigora is a businessman and academic. He is the Head of Business Science at the Africa University’s College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Governance. His doctoral research focused on Business Administration (Destination Marketing and Branding Major, Ukzn, SA). He is into agribusiness and consults for many companies in Zimbabwe and Africa. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted for feedback and business at [email protected], WhatsApp mobile: +263772886871.