Business opinion: Generational branding in entrepreneurship

In business changes happen from one generation to another and it is unavoidable. For entrepreneurial branding we associate generational dynamics with progress.

To our home-grown entrepreneurs we advise them to cope with the pace. If you snooze you lose!!! Whether for good or bad but our aim in this branding saga is to have our SMEs adapt, advance, adjust and innovate at the same time.

It has been said in most of our previous editions that consistency is key for brand success. Here we remain with the same motto and even go beyond through brand creativity. So as to keep that momentum which made the brand so popular in the first generation (since a brand should live long with its promise(s) into the unforeseeable future).

My concern is on those brands that have made it in our various sectors of the national and global economy that became extinct earlier than they were supposed.

Those that have gone through success from the founder(s) and later on to die a natural death when passed on to the next generation. Look at some local bus companies, FCMGs and even manufacturing companies that made real noise by becoming super brands of those times but are no way to be found in this age were Generation Z has its new demands.

That is the same reason why in this edition we will discuss generational branding as a pinnacle for entrepreneurial business attractiveness and longevity.

We go back to succession planning which we talked about in most of our previous editions. Where businesses in their construct and growth should have a plan of who will move (be a custodian) with and continuously support a brand legacy after departure of the founding generation.

This can be due to any other causes of nature or retirement but what matters is who will spearhead the brand vision going forward.

Just to remind as we operationalise our SME businesses there should be a clear map of those who have to influence your brand vision and showcase it into the coming generations through talent management (a concept we will explore further soon).

Think about artificial intelligence like CHATGPT in relation to the future of talent management.

How are we then going to strike a balance between AI and humans in assessing real talent? A story for another day. As an aspiring entrepreneur you should start now to scout and nurture future brand keepers/owners.

Actually this should be done in the launching phase of the brand and its promises. Of course most of our SMEs owners are yet to appreciate the same. 

In my own analysis those businesses that managed to apply this concept have made a higher brand equity. Being the best in living a promise that lasts forever.

A real brand should increasingly wow a family tree line by having custodians who are present to service that brand from one generation to another. Think about it!!

Many of our SME owners have restricted their business idea and brand to be for them only and not any other.

That is the same reason it has become so popular that family run businesses do not survive beyond the death of a father or mother.

For a start, reflect in your business model on the nodes that you have put in place in order to prepare for the second and any other generation that will follow idea and brand ownership. It does not mean that it should be a family generational brand ownership only but with any other key stakeholder/shareholder.

Empowering through trust ownership and nurturing as the business grows into the future is necessary.

That is what we should think of now as we go into higher levels were branding businesses will never be the same. In the beginning it was branding through common elements such as logos and colours but now it has stepped up through contemporary practices where current markets consider generational focus to be the reason for a brand trust.

Imagine, there are some foodstuffs and cosmetics we used to consume and apply, but the formula/production died with the first generation. That is unfair to those markets that stood by you from inception and have considered your brand as part of their daily living.

Then, what is going to be there for these generations that have fitted well with this previous but gone brand?  It’s a clear reminder that people consume a brand and its promises not a mere product/service. So, let it be through brands that talks generations.

Lastly, as we to continue to unpack it should be known that passing on a brand to next generations gives you leverage on the markets (differentiation strategy). 

Since customers will have confidence to your offerings in the present knowing that the same brand will always be available to meet their needs and wants in the future.

This helps in eliminating the physical and psychological risks that have been found to be part of our daily consumption.

As we have learnt in the past that one of the key benefits to a customer of consuming a branded product/service is to eliminate risks.

In the context of our discussion in this edition early business failure/closure and consumption risk can be eliminated through generational branding. Till then I leave you to introspect.

*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.

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