Branding through localisation in entrepreneurship


The concept of indigenous knowledge seems to have gone far in leaps and bounds. That is through re-defining local heritage and practices into global identity as led by home-grown entrepreneurial brands.

We should as successful SMEs settle for uniqueness through embracing language, local endowments, being streetwise and any other as originated from us and of our ownership. It is high time for us to appreciate the reason why #Black Lives Matter has taken another dimension finding its place in marketing philosophies. This time improving branding for entrepreneurs.

It is imperative to appreciate that brand origination and its focus should define the initial localised drive to be above all global players. Where we say!!!Local is lekker!!! And can’t be changed in any means.

My worry is that we as promising SMEs are busy selling away our uniqueness through imitation. It takes me back to the Covid-19 upsurge where our local/indigenous herb branded as Zumbani helped in containing the catastrophe. Imagine the same drug given an exotic name which does not relate to its original indigenous meaning to the world. That is a lost identity if I can say. We have our local products that have been renamed after crossing borders in the name of others and the localised brand identity has been lost forever.

Brands should look for these gaps and perpetually talk heritage so to say. That is why in this edition we have resorted to localised heritage in brand showcasing and experience.

To start with is an appreciation that a brand name should know no border. The sky is the limit as we are supposed to maintain the same name in all domains of showcase.

It’s a cog of the commandments behind brand longevity “consistency”. Imagine changing your name from one city/province/nation/region to another. Who will know your brand? Your dominance will diluted.

In this drive as thriving SMEs we have moved away from localisation in doing business which is a plus towards business growth.

However, we still have to adjust by not importing names from other poles as they then take ownership from us in our prospective markets. There is need for innovation in this age for real branding. In fact it confuses the market (customers, competitors and other stakeholders) if we are Proudly Zimbabwean or any other.

Thanks for the effort being done by various local individual/institutions around us including those in Trade Marks, Patenting, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and the government.

Local certification and accreditation should be the escaping point in this world where competition has escalated to customisation through localisation. Why not using our local/indigenous names when branding. A name stands as the first port of call in branding. Which then goes into any other supporting elements in the branding of our SMEs.

We agreed that the characteristics of a successful brand should be unique and consistent. The same applies in this localisation matter.

Just imagine some of the most consumed products by us which have brand names that we cannot even pronounce, yet we have been rated key customers in their databases. Something should be wrong?

But this shows the power of unique identity with real performance that is supported by a brand that only lives the promise(s).

As advice you should go an extra mile to know the type of customer(s) you serve and the segment in which they belong.

That is the same reason why most Zimbabweans are consuming cosmetics, food and health products from China in that language, but without fear of any risks associated. Those brands have lived a promise in the hearts and minds of the targeted.

Our entrepreneurs also should remember that an effective brand should not only eliminate financial risk but also psychological risk in the mind of the customers. And in this case localised brand should keep on reflecting risk elimination as needed by our broad markets.

The same goes with the pictures/image, symbols and colours we use as elements representing our brands. They should have a local meaning with a Zimbabwean/African meaning to the world.

These talk more than any writings on the packaging just by a glance in the sense that time matters most in brand selection by our customers.

Thus these matters give a quick first impression and moment of truth to make a purchasing decision by them (whether to buy or not).  We want our consumables/offerings to outclass any other on the global markets through personalised locally engraved visibility.

This is only achievable if we have our own presentation that is not a copy-and-paste matter of others. Global customers feel cheated when they see your elements and packaging relating to their own localised designs.

They want something new. There is a potential power to monopolise global markets in this perspective through a brand differentiation strategy as appreciated in the school of economics.    

Lastly, we should appreciate the brand law of fellowship where no man is an Island. On the other hand our brand(s) should conform to environments they go and sell. 

Especially, in some cases where we are forced to go an extra mile to translate the brand instructions on the packaging or accompanying manual in the language of the market we serve. This is critical too for our brand awareness and knowledge. Even though our localised brand name should not change across the globe. I leave you to introspect towards year 2023.Merry Christmas and New Year!!!

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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