Every Brand, Belongs

Everything BELONGS to something and something belongs to everything! It is the same with Brands

Every Brand has its own culture and community, much the same way a child belongs to his parents, the way we stem from the family tree and how we all belong to mother Earth

From the starting point to the end—and every point in between—everything has a process of Belonging

For example: You belong to your Family, You belong to a certain Religious denomination, You belong to a Nation, You belong to an Ethnic group….(the list goes on and on)

Belonging is an endless process that has a great impact based on Emotional Attributes and the Emotional Connectivity between Desire and Wanting

Brands are no different from humans. They belong to a certain audience and if built and nurtured correctly, they will live in the lives of their audience for the foreseeable future

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 26th February, 2015

SPECIALTY: One of the Laws of ‘The Power of Belonging’

The above image is of Brand names that sell Makeup

  • Sephora is SPECIALIZED in Beauty Products
  • Macy’s is SPECIALIZED in Up-Scale Fashion Retail
  • Sephora is a Destination offering first hand experience for beauty products
  • Macy’s is a Destination for retail fashion (i.e. beauty products could be third or fourth priority in the minds of the customers during their experience)

Specialty is one of the 10 Laws for Brands to succeed in generating/maintaining ‘The Power of Belonging’

What happens when you create a product or service and you want to sell everything? You end up selling nothing! The saying might be old, but it’s true to this day: Jack of all trades, master of none. Focus on your specialty. Be the master of one thing. You can’t be the master of millions

Starbucks specialized in upscale coffee and coffee drinks. If it sold other things, it was because those things (from mugs to music) go well with coffee. It’s all about the coffee experience. Successful Brand Pros are able to let their audiences know they stand for something, rather than for many things, or for whatever they think they might be able to sell. Remember the number 7? That’s a magic number in many cultures, perhaps because that’s about how far our memories go. For some reason we can relate to things in sevens. 7 wonders of the world, 7 Chakras, 7 Heavens, among many others. How much diversity in your Brand your audience can cope with isn’t up to you; it’s up to the audience’s brains. Think in terms of the ‘Rule of 7’ with regards to your Brand as being the outside limit of how far your family of products and messages can extend

Let your Brand stand for something, specialize like Starbucks for Coffee, Lipton for Tea, Xerox for Copy, Al Baik for Fried Chicken with Special Garlic sauce (not burger or seafood), Apple for Digital Lifestyle, Facebook for Social Networking (worth pointing: Linkedin is between Business Networking and Recruiting, so it needs to specialize)

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 22nd February, 2015

Brands work well with Segments

There are different sets of Needs to different type of Segments under one Category. Each segment has a different set of Values and Benefits, the more the Brand is focused on each segment; the higher the significance of the Brand

One of the major challenges many companies face is keeping a Brand focused in order to address all different sets of values and benefits. This line extension challenge became a nightmare for heads of Marketing and CEOs

Brands are like humans who can’t be everything, they need to standout for a single well-Differentiated Essence. The more the Brand is focused to a segment, the more it is preferred

Brands these days lack consistency they are constantly pressured by the Board from day one on functional deliverables such as ‘instant’ Sales. It took Starbucks 40 years to where is is today, it took Coca Cola a century to reach where it is today

It took Google 20 years to reach where it is today, but did Google display Brand Arrogance? When a Brand becomes very significant, the Board thinks competition is irrelevant and the same Brand name as well as principles start to address all segments. Google+ and Google Buzz are good examples in Social Media category wherein the 1st trial i.e. Google Buzz, failed and in the 2nd trial Google+, is barely surviving. Google is THE ‘World of Information (web links, images, videos, maps and so on)’ but after the success of Google Search Engine, Google became both Information and Tools. Does Google need to revisit its Mission and separate Information and Tools? I say yes, that will even make Google more significant on both information and tool fronts

It took these global Brands that long to build their presence, it surely should take Brands from the Middle East that long (IF Brand and Branding Strategies are in place) or longer if the right ingredients are missing

Brands and Branding are complex. Not every Consultant, head of Marketing/CMO or Advertising agency can literally deliver what’s expected. You need the subject matter EXPERTS to guide both the CEO and the management, through

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 8th February, 2015

Virgin or Lebara. The rest don’t matter!!

Saudi Arabia’s Telecom industry is evolving, 3 new Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) in recent months. Question is: Which MVNO will have the 1st mover advantage? Virgin the equity owner, Lebara piggybacking on Mobily’s Equity or Zain and Axiom both being latest entrants before Virgin and Lebara? Users will decide but Brand Equity and Price points will determine the leadership

  • Lebara, an MVNO based out of Europe, partnered with Mobily
  • Virgin mobile, partnered with STC
  • The ailing Zain decided to partner with Axiom, a regional retailer for mobile/smartphones

The ‘Pay as You go’ MVNO model targets migrant workers and international community. For locals and residents, it’s a second choice to their official/original number. Which of these 3 MVNOs has the first advantage? Apparently, Virgin Mobile (partner of STC) because of its ‘Brand Weight’

I believe the Saudi market is fragmented into several segments that share same attributes or needs but are apart in many ways. Virgin will have the first mover advantage with inbound business travelers and others. Out of the 27 million, 6 million are Expats/Migrant workers or their family members in Saudi Arabia and that’s a big number which is using the current networks, so:

  • What’s the value in having the 3 operators (STC, Mobily, Zain) carry their own MVNOs?
  • What’s the benefit besides ‘Pay as You go’ for the end user in Saudi?

I see Price but other than that, it’s difficult to determine other benefits and expect the Brand which STC has as the winning partner: Virgin. Virgin Mobile will appeal to international community and citizens who are well aware of the Brand, for citizens and residents they will sign up with Virgin and Lebara as second choice (for back-up purposes). Lebara will focus on a target audience which is Price Sensitive (obvious from their communication). Most consumers associate Lebara with Mobily because of similar Brand colors and on the same token, they think it’s a sub brand of Mobily

It’s interesting to see how MVNOs will unfold under the original 3. Hardly anyone knows, at the least among the mainstream users, that Virgin mobile is associated with STC from first time experience but many see the association between Lebara and Mobily. I think Virgin’s Brand Equity will play an interesting role as it will have the first mover advantage and that’s STC’s strength in MVNO scene. On the other hand, Axiom and Zain are yet to prove their success story as Mobile Virtual Network Operator.

Slow moving and Price Sensitive audience will hardly find any value if Lebara and Mobily are attracting the same audience with the same values

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 29th January, 2015

Brand and Branding are everything in Business

Most companies in the Middle East fail to differentiate between Branding and Advertising or the Values they both provide. Most think that Branding is about logo and design or are completely puzzled on the Values and End Benefits that Brand and Branding provide

Many companies use Advertising and call it Branding, then the question arises: What is Branding?

Branding is about building relationships between the Brand ‘Idea’ and the Consumer/Customer/Users. Logos, Design and Messages are part of Brands, not Branding. Advertising stresses on persuading audience to take action, works very well with Promotions or Trade Marketing but not with Brand Building

Companies in the region believe in ENORMOUS Advertising spending to build Brands and if you personally request your Marketing department to do an audit on your existing Brands, you will realize most revolve around awareness which means you basically drained your budget to say “I’m here!” and nothing else. Advertising will fail to create (TOMA or Top OF Mind Awareness) if the Marketing Mix fails to own the category. One the other hand, Branding builds Loyalty in the form of actual customers buying from you and repeating the same experience over and over i.e. a focused segment

People Queue outside of Apple stores across the world for days to experience new Launches or log on to Apple.com to watch a live stream of new launches or announcements. Now that’s a ‘Brand’. Its competitor Samsung hardly gets the same amount of attention, why? because it’s less exiting as a Brand

People feel proud to wear Ralph Lauren attire during a golf game or a polo game. People feel inspired to fly on Emirates and pay extra for their service. These are Brands that can manage their loyal customers. These are Brands that can increase Price and customers will still remain loyal to them

Here are some points to consider:

  • A Brand is an ‘Idea’ that best fits the audience through a relationship (Branding). A Brand at launch needs to show genuine Essence and provide an Experience which the entire organization can deliver
  • Any newly launched Brand is like a new born baby which needs time to flourish, needs genuine relationship with first time customers or users, rather than persuading the audience to get engaged instantly through Advertising. Brands are like humans, they grow gradually in the ‘Minds of their Audience’
  • The most stirring problem in the Middle East are management and board members. Their basic understanding on Brand and Branding hurts the growth of their company. Usually boards are after quick wins, I’m sorry but you can’t build Brands on quick wins, you need time and focus
  • Most mistake Brand Positioning and Promise. If companies invest enough time on the science of their Brand, they’ll build great wealth of understanding to manage their Brand with their stakeholders
  • I have met Marketers who re-positioned their Brands with the understanding of Re-Branding. Another major issue in the region is Re-Positioning and Re-Branding. Re-Positioning is effected by Marketing Mix, adding new products or changing segments. Re-Branding is the change in naming, essence, promise, design and etc. The science that goes behind any Brand and Branding is far too critical which is why it’s best that the CEOs champions the Brand. If Re-Branding occurs without input of key stakeholders (for example company employees), disaster can happen
  • The target audience is not the single stakeholder in Branding. Most professional Branding consultants will demand stakeholder mapping and educate management on stakeholder Brand Management
  • The massive difference between Advertising and Branding should be taught to CEOs and CMOs or stressed on companies CEOs by board members to attain long term results. Most global Branding experts see Advertising as optional while Branding is a fact because it is dynamic and timeless. A successful company with clear vision never stops Branding, and please be reminded that Branding is not Advertising while Advertising and Branding are not TV, Billboards etc., those are just tools
  • Myself and many others are aware of Advertising’s strong presence in the Middle East, we are also aware of the forged understating on how Advertising can play a role in Brand Building. Advertising and Marketing entered the regional market through Multinationals which had one single goal: Sales!

    When Trade was the key Strategy at market entry, Advertising played an important role. Multinationals’ regional interest was basic Marketing and Sales till maturity. They created every single category in FMCG and other sectors

  • In the past two decades Multinationals started speaking about Brands in the Middle East but most were dictated from global business units in Zurich, London, Brussels or New York
  • The result of Multinational Trade Marketing in the region also produced Trader mindset Marketers with basic understanding on Brands and Branding (not all but majority). The results are visible when these seasoned professionals moved to local organizations
  • In the past 4 years several local and regional companies went through Brand and Branding exercises, the only new visible presence they offered was a new logo, most had to revisit their initial launch on several occasions
  • The Middle East at large is a very individualistic society, personal wealth, self esteem and personal gratification are far more important than fulfilling the organization’s vision
  • For CEOs, this is crucial. If they are not aware about basics of Brand and Branding or lack understanding about the Values and End Benefits, the chance for the organization to fail is highly possible. Sorry but ‘Brand’ is far too big to be managed by a CMO on his/her own. The Brand” should be every CEOs TOP Priority whereas Branding is what Marketers of every organization should focus on each and every single day of the year
  • Not all Marketers are fit to create or build Brands. Most in our region manage Brands but lack experience to create a Brand meeting global standards

Why do I care to share or advise? Well being from the region nothing will ever fulfill my career and my life more than to see Brands from the region in other parts of the world. CEOs in our region should be Brand champions to ensure that the entire organization delivers the Promise and lives and breathes the brand’s Core Values

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 16th January, 2015

Coffee Effect but Tea!

Tea is boring!and ‘Kick’ by Rabea is very Functional while on the other hand, coffee is very Inspiring and Emotional so why did Rabea went off to associate a strong substitute and one of the main threats to ‘tea’ in their packaging design?

Coffee is growing fast in a Tea market. ‘Kick’ by Rabea is one of their newly launched products with extra caffeine, targeting coffee lovers. While tea is boring and coffee is social and inspiring, Rabea decided to launch a ‘coffee look a like tea product’ and named it ‘Kick’. We are all aware that caffeine as a Value is more associated with coffee and energy drinks than tea and in this approach Rabea is after the Value and Benefit of coffee. The Value ‘Caffeine’ and the Benefit thereof i.e. ‘Awake’, are both very strong Branding signals of coffee and energy drinks which is why in this area, Conversion strategy is required

I beg to ask, if tea and coffee are from two different worlds with the former being calmer and the latter being more of an energy booster, how does Rabea plan to sell the Value of caffeine with tea especially when it’s mainly associated with coffee and energy drinks? The Packaging color indicates a coffee product which gives the first impression and more credible reason to believe that the value caffeine is owned by and belongs to coffee

Following additional points of concern:

  • The promise of Rabea Kick is ‘coffee effect in the taste of tea’, very simple but very functional. Promises are best served Emotional and Branding is the human sense to Product and Services
  • This is a conversion approach in Branding. Conversion requires Perception change and this, by Rabea, is a wrong Strategy for conversion!
  • I wonder if there is a holistic Brand Strategy apart of from Positioning and Promise?
  • Short-term Sales as new product might excite the team but I don’t see this going anywhere in few years down the line
  • Why use Yellow? why remind your audience of Lipton? Lipton owns Yellow

I like the idea behind ‘Kick’ but the Brand Strategy is very questionable. If ‘Kick’ was introduced as Tea and free from any other product association, the potential would have been enormous. This is only possible with a correct Brand Strategy

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 10th January, 2015

Brand is Everything. Not just a logo!

For the past 3 years in Saudi as well as in rest of the region, I have witnessed quite a few campaigns (deemed as Brand strategy and Branding campaigns by local ‘Misstra Know-it-Alls’) that made my head spin. Someone I know recently posted on his Facebook the following:

Our local brands are globally competitive

If he thinks so, I guess he’s in a different world than most Branding experts

First, realizing our truth can only push us forward but denying or manipulating the truth can only falsify our reality. My thoughts on his Facebook post was:

Yes, we have the potential to be such but not till we admit and embrace the truth that our market and companies hold a false understanding on ‘Brand and Branding’

Local Market’s level of understanding:

A Brand is:

  • Logo
  • Design
  • Colors
  • Fonts

Few think of Positioning Statements and Brand Promise because both hardly work with their core Business models

While, Branding is: 

  • Advertising on Billboards/Outdoor Medias
  • Merchandising
  • Social Media

If the above was correct, then we should all expect to have the most competitive Brands roaming world markets. At times, coming to term with ourselves and setting our personal egos aside might serve the company and the community a better future

Once a Saudi Marketer said something that I found to be very true, he said:

You need to think of mature markets for Brand and Branding to work, the regional market is still on trading mindset

My lighthearted advice: 

  • Define your Audience (understand them really well)
  • Clear Goals, Vision and Mission
  • Define your Business Model
  • Hire professionals who know how to carry your Brand
  • Understand your Brand: Know its Values and Benefits
  • Understand your Marketing Mix, in line with your Business Model and remain Focused
  • Revisit the above every 6 months

In short, take your Brands VERY seriously if you wish to sustain growth because Brands are…timeless

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 5th January, 2015

Consumers are Confused!

Consumers in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East are confused on how to distinguish between Supermarkets and Hypermarkets or to realize the end benefits, thereof

Hypermarkets are relatively new as a shopping culture and as an experience, to the region. Today, Hypermarkets are treated like Supermarkets and Consumers’ knowledge on the former is relatively new which also makes it irrelevant for them as a destination. Giants like Panda should set the leadership base to educate about consumers’ grocery experience across the industry

Brand leadership is best practiced through Knowledge, Self-esteem and Brand Relevance. Panda, the Brand, has the potential but I’m very much surprised as why it’s not championing the leadership opportunity that remains unexploited by its competitors?

Initiatives such as the ones mentioned above, create Brand Relevance that leads to Brand Dominance, making competition irrelevant

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 2nd January, 2015

CAREEM and You’re There

What can we learn from Careem?

Careem is a mobile app to hire a chauffeur-driven car service. The app operates in most cities of the Gulf countries, as well as in Pakistan and Egypt. A brilliant idea similar to the US Brand Uber that also launched in the region, recently. So coming back to my question: What can we learn from Careem (i.e. its Brand Promise)?

  • Careem’s Business Strategy is crystal clear to passengers, travelling from one point to another through mobile app booking
  • The Business Strategy requires a Focused Brand with great Values. Careem’s customer experience starts from the moment the customer books a car online till the drop off
  • This leads to 2 types of experiences for the Customer/Passenger: Digital (the mobile app) and the Service (Chauffeur-driven Car)
  • Careem’s promise ‘And You’re There’ is simple yet precise and requires humans with basic skills and good behavior to deliver the experience. Great example on how Careem came up with a promise that balances across all touch points with minimal threats to the Brand
  • Careem can manage the Digital promise but not chauffeurs and/or cars. They’re 3rd party service providers but Careem was able to to train and share the Brand Values to ensure that the Brand Promise is a reality for their customers
  • If economy cars are not available to book, Careem ultimately finds the solution and sends Business Class cars
  • Careem’s Brand Promise struggles in areas such as King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh (a distant pick-up point within the city’s parameters). Hardly any driver is available in the area for a late night arrival and waiting for them could take up to an hour. It is in such locations, the Promise ‘And You’re There’ fails leading to frustrated users/passengers

Careem is a Focused Brand with great amount of simplicity. The Brand is perceived as some-what affluent. While Careem suffers from distant touch points, the company still manages to keep the promise intact

This is the difference between those that think of Brand as a promise to thier audience vs those that think of brands as mere logos used for Billboard/Out-door Advertising

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 31st December, 2014

NCB, Realize your tomorrow

NCB recently launched their new promise to their customers, that promise is on every TV channel, Billboard, Digital, you name it and it’s there. After such an aggressive launch, I would expect the promise to be delivered in day to day operations but according to the image below it’s not

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One of NCB’s customers had to visit 3 different branches just to cash a cheque. Branch no. 1 excused itself by claiming that cheque processing staff is out for giving an exam, Branch no. 2 said the system was down while Branch No. 3 was where the customer found a friend who also was an NCB employee to help him out

On my previous post I have placed great reservations on such taglines, I said:

“It’s almost impossible to achieve such promise with the prevailing human caliber in our region, the promise is far too difficult to provide to your customers. The incident above just backfired on the promise made by NCB i.e. Realize your Tomorrow (when you can’t cash a cheque today)”

Previously STC went through the same exercise with ‘Easier life’, now it seems NBC is heading in the same direction. This leaves me with great reservations on the competency of many professionals to understand how ‘Brands work’. I would ask companies to hire Brand experts to walk them through before hiring agencies, I’m sure the head of Marketing at NCB did his audit prior to embracing such promises

Brands must learn to keep their PROMISE!

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 29th December, 2014