Business opinion: Brand export

It is imperative to be guided by the law of borders in brand management as it is the driver/licence to be anywhere we want. This promotes the focus and desire made by us to be global giants through brand excellence.

BY FARAI CHIGORA If it was not for the identity we have made so far, exporting was going to be just a dream and nothings else. Why limiting ourselves in this globalised and borderless world. Fear not as everything shall will be alright. Hand to hand we will conquer the world. In this view, we truly agree that growth is never too much if well managed. As successful entrepreneurs we should think, seek and take our branding strategy beyond borders. The sky is the limit. We break from the tradition and meet new cultures with preparedness and geared to give the international customers our flair and prolonged satisfaction. We take time to showcase the power of the Proudly Zimbabwe brand. What else can we do after all has been said and done? Now we are geared to compete globally. Thanks to the constructivism approach which we together turned from theory into practice towards best branding craftsmanship. So far so good!

It is imperative to be guided by the law of borders in brand management as it is the driver/licence to be anywhere we want. This promotes the focus and desire made by us to be global giants through brand excellence. In the sense that a brand should know no borders. Where consistency should not be forgotten, especially on matters that help to maintain the same promise(s) we made in the country of origin (where the brand was founded). We have the “Always Coca Cola” in every country that this brand has moved to. You can do the same.

Some SMEs become too excited as they venture into other nations by changing their names, traditions and any other elements. All I can say and see is a deliberate loss of identity if not a complete face-off. We should continue to showcase that confidence in our brand identity and creation as we did in its inception and over the life cycle as made by us for them. This is a golden opportunity for brand extension through personal branding by internationalisation. Where your brand talks on its own to the world as a successful persona rather than an imitator (self-brand ambassadorship). I would be happy to see more of our home-grown brands shining in their own make. In this edition we then try to connect the poles through setting a clear thread for brand export. Of course, it is not a hard and fast rule but definitely some will learn.

To start with there is need to set the brand vision motion that is program driven, not haphazard. It is more of an expansion program we tailor make for order and compatibility. Where we don’t just jump the ship into a sort of unplanned brand massification. There is need to develop a guiding map for brand export since we are going somewhere not of our founded roots but zones of others. Where we are supposed to welcome ourselves first rather than waiting for their invitation to treat. What they see in us is imported competition and react very defensively even when we prove to be coming for strategic partnerships through bilateral agreement or some sort of MOUs. It is always a Russia and Ukraine scenario.

There is need to specify those who will lead the brand exporting drive as individuals or teams and their roles should be clarified. Also considering the financial returns as projected and informed through figures. As they say numbers talk in business finance. Sometimes we waste more money in this exciting drive to go global and forget the need to achieve returns beyond the break-even point. Remember we are in the business to make money through brands. Of course, social responsibility is key but a story for another day. Benchmarking with other SMEs and giants in the same/related trade is critical. We learn from others as they do from us. So it’s a song that can play on and on until we merry as business partners. Our experiences are more likely to be similar in this venture to brand exporting. This should be done continuously for checks and balances in order to strengthen/satisfy this visioning.

I have seen some of our SMEs getting so much excited by just expanding beyond borders into waste as aforementioned. Those in the school of economics can support that resources are scarce. We should not waste them by going into markets that are not lucrative/rewarding at all. This bring us to the second factor that the brand export SMEs should target high potential markets rather than general. You can’t be a jerk of all trades. Sometimes consult/engage those with the expertise to get proper and adequate advice. There is need to select the best products/services and work with various local/global international export promotion organisations to assist in your brand profiling/categorisation as needed by these new international markets. Especially those that have a strong market knowledge of your related product/service in these export zones. Of course the government has made such an effort to advice and create export market zones we should complement and continuously implement.

International brand standardisation is another critical matter in the exporting of our localised brands. This is through moving in line with adaptive technologies and global accreditation by international standardisation bodies. Just like our academic qualifications which should not be dubious as we see around. Those that accreditations for green practices and standard operating procedures that have been see to be brand enhancers for our  product/service. This is because the global market has become eco-reactive/responsive especially those customer who have a high value for money and our prospective global partners (those that have been in the game for some time achieving greatness through sustainable practices). There is also need to have modern/adaptive technologies especially those for e-commerce and payment online. We should be able to reach as far as we can in the east and west markets through effective technological adoption models. This give us the power and convenience to complete deals/bids and contracts with our far markets through virtual presence.

As initially mentioned culture specific marketing planning is critical. As we close this edition we should keep in mind and customise our offerings according to the needs/tastes and expectations of the new cultures we are to serve. Of course maintaining authenticity and compatibility of the founding brand.  The add-ons should not change but complement the existing brand. More can be said in this export drive but I leave you to reflect and adjust.

  • 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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