The South African Ubuntu Foundation invited Creative Consulting & Development Works to a Business Networking Breakfast on Thursday, September 12. Three members from the team attended this exciting opportunity. As stated on the SA Ubuntu website, “Ubuntu Business Networking is designed to bridge the still-evident barriers to mutual-benefit, cross-cultural and cross-racial relationships among business leaders. Ubuntu Business Networking enables attendees to hear and discuss presentations by influential business, political, and cultural figures at monthly breakfasts in a setting that encourages people of all races and cultures to network, become well acquainted and truly embrace each other.”
Nando’s founder Robert Brozin was the speaker at this latest networking event. Brozin shared his experiences of being in the business sector for more than 25 years and touched a bit on tips for building strong brands. “You don’t have to be clever to build a business; businesses are built on passion and integrity. If you do things consistently in life with a huge amount of focus, you can achieve almost anything.”
Businesses (and organisations) often have to adopt different approaches to acclimate their businesses to high markets and become trusted brands. However, this work does not happen in the blink of an eye. Strategic planning, research and monitoring must be part of the planning process to ensure customers are satisfied. To be specific, South Africa is still a developing country and her businesses need to regularly compare notes to understand their audience’s needs, create innovative ideas and build strong brands.
From a business perspective, brands exist in the consumer’s mind. A practical example: when a person hears the name of another person, the mind automatically invokes a set if impressions and perceptions about that person, and the same happens with brands. Customers’ thoughts about a particular brand define the business, or organisation.
As author Geoffrey James states, “The essence of a brand is not the exterior elements, but how you feel about the product or service. Your brand resides in your customer’s mind as a result of all the impressions made by encounters with your name, your logo, your marketing messages, and everything else that people see and hear about your business.”
What is important to note for non-profit organisations is that the same principles apply – only the audience changes. Creative Consulting & Development Works Communications Manager Jenn Warren says, “Organisations need to know how audiences view their brand, and this changes depending on the audience – donors, government, other NGOs, community members and beneficiaries will all have differing perceptions about the organisational brand. Despite this, it is possible – and crucial – to create a coherent brand that meets the needs of all audiences. Having a strong organisational logo, website, social media presence, and standarised use of fonts and photographs for print and online materials, is key.”
It is easy for smaller NGOs to ignore communications in light of higher priorities, but this is a mistake when it comes to fundraising and advocacy. With proper branding and messaging, organisations have the potential to reach a much larger number of people. Although funds are required to conduct successful marketing and fundraising campaigns, it shouldn’t be overwhelming. Remember, an organisation’s image is much more than a logo. The image is your staff, word of mouth and presence in the community.
Nando’s Brozin says, “You don’t need a lot of money to advertise. The most important part of Nando’s is the people that make the chicken. If you haven’t got values and then you haven’t got people. A happy person is a happy bank manager, so worry about your people first. A lot of businesses worry about their customers first; we worry about our people first because they are the ones who make the chicken.”
For businesses, Corporate Social Investments also play a large role in strengthening the brand of a business. Social responsibility programmes help businesses develop mutually beneficial relationships with local organisations and members of the community. Businesses that are active in neighbouring communities often get loyalty, support and goodwill. “Nando’s representatives go around Africa to distribute malaria nets, and people can’t believe it, it changes their lives, their whole perceptions. We teach people what is to give and to give with an open hand. And to give doesn’t mean we are only selling a quarter chicken and chips.”
Brozin’s final words at the breakfast were to look after your people and have strong ethics, “Great brands are built from inside out, and not built with great advertising.”
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