Brand transferability in entrepreneurship


Just like any good fruit in life, a brand has a great potential to attract more followers as part-owners and give birth to other many related brands.

A brand that has experienced a high equity (both financially and non-financially) in its existence through living the promise has the same power to attract not only customers but partners. This can be in the form of extended shareholding or any other. 

In our drive as thriving entrepreneurs our main vision is to have successful brand transferability that does not only result in our fame but goes beyond to become a non-current asset of the business.

Our focus should be on maintaining ownership as we engage in brand transferability.

Of course we can patent and have trademarks, but there is need to effectively manage brand growth. The little we can do with these intellectual property rights is to safeguard our brands such that they won’t be stolen, tarnished or muddled by any other in our environments.

However, we should at the same time give allowance that one day we will share that protected entrepreneurial brand with others. Those who were not part of its inception and visioning. 

Remember there is power in brand fellowship. That is the same reason why in our SPELT brand mix model brand transferability became a last critical element to discuss especially after all things have been said and done with regard to brand Software, Promotions, Engagement and Learning.

Those who have been following the previous editions can concur that we are safely getting there, brick by brick. In this edition we then take a closer look and discuss brand transferability in entrepreneurship. 

In the context of our entrepreneurial brands growth is only possible and sustainable when it is supported by a well-managed transferability.

That is when we engage in some sort of brand integration and extensions. This can happen in two dimensions which are owner spearheaded growth and partner/shareholder driven.

The former one is when as an organisation/entrepreneurial business you increase your product/service range through innovation and strategic diversity, and these are to be led by the same brand you once introduced for a narrow range.

The latter is then when other externals through joint ventures/venture capitalisation/franchising and any other collaborated agreements share and adopt your entrepreneurial brand. This being out of the successful dominance, visibility and attraction that the brand has done in its lifetime.

Look at SPAR franchise as a brand, one can easily see why even a tuck shop owner would dream to be part of that bandwagon. Successful brands attract and they transform others through well-managed transferability. 

Both ways of brand transferability have their pros and cons. What matters is how to manage these for extended brand equity and profitable returns associated with continuously living a brand vision, entrepreneurial longevity and anticipated visibility.

There is a mistake of using our brands on everything as informed in some other previous editions where we will end up placing the brand where it will die rather than rejuvenating itself and maintaining its original drive when it was first introduced. We should do it carefully.

Firstly brand transferability within the same business should not confuse the customers. Like a faceoff scenario, there are those highly value patrons within our businesses who became so because of the love and jealous they developed in our brand elements like the colour(s), logo and even representing graphics.

They would not want to be confused to see the same attractions put on other newly invited products and services. It should be done in a way that we find a common identity in our extension to suit the new product/service rather than duplicate the same brand for different products/services.

If we are to do it through maintaining a certain trademark the better. Rather than dressing all products with same colours there will be the innovation through brand transferability. 

Worse when it comes to the transfer of the whole brand and its elements to a separate new owner. That’s very dangerous if not well done as it will lead to both marketing diseconomies of scale and brand terrorism.

Here, we should agree on the parameters for such an engagement especially giving limits on how another new brand owner convey the same promise as the founder. Most extended owners have been on record for customising what they would have been given to suit them more than the founding vision.

There is need to do more/regular collaborated brand ownership trainings and inspection where we come up with matrixes for uniform brand customer care exchange together with brand handling and management for a swift transferability. 

Our main concern in this discussion is that entrepreneurs should find a balance between internal and external brand transferability; internal is controllable since it is closer to the drawing board.

For the external, there is need to come up with highly integrated points/systems of brand engagement that will protect and sustain the same brand vision and promise. The markets will appreciate us as vibrant business brands when we are consistent even after brand transfer to other owners and portfolios.

In summary, it is possible for brand elements to be transferred within and across product/service categories in the same business, with other businesses (as partners/franchises) and across cultural and geographical regions. 

*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, Website

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