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

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

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

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

37ba302

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

Cofique: Brand or Commodity?

Why did Goody wait too long to evolve their ‘Cofique’ Brand?

I came to know Cofique when I saw an advert on a billboard in Tahlia Street, at first I thought it was Nescafé, little that I knew that I would be shocked to read the name Cofique, a ‘Me too Brand to Nescafé’. I immediately called few friends to investigate who is behind this new launch. I was shocked to find out that it was ‘Goody’ (Basamh Trading Co.’s Brand) which made me question as to why would it embark on such business move? The opportunity that arose from Nestlé and Basamh’s breakaway, left the market void of Nescafé, which Goody found as an opportunity to fill in as a ‘Me Too Brand’

Eventually few weeks down the line I had the opportunity to meet the head of Marketing and the Brand Manager of Cofique at their office to discuss my reservations, the second meeting took place at Starbucks in Tahlia, with a member of their Advertising agency. All my reservations were ignored and put aside, I guess they had a different perspective

Today, four years later after our first meeting, reality validated my reservations. Cofique went through several exercises to validate its existence but each path was faced with a challenge. I have always respected ‘Goody’ as a Brand but this strategy of ‘Me Too Brand’ made me wonder why would such company make a detrimental business mistake. The following points illustrates past and present of Cofique:

The Past

  • Launching as a ‘Me Too Brand to Nescafé’ validates the Brand Power of Nescafe. Literally, Cofique endorsed Nescafé
  • Cofique went on with a massive Advertising campaign during the first launch as a ‘Me Too Brand to Nescafé’, this campaign reminded the consumers of Nescafé, the category leader
  • When Nestlé was back as a Foreign Direct Investor in Saudi market, Nescafé filled the supermarket shelves, Cofique took the defensive approach and focused on the single Marketing Mix (Price) in order to compete
  • Cofique claimed 8% market share on their 3rd year. Well, in Instant Coffee category, only the first and second years matter. With Cofique being a look alike Brand to Nescafe, the 8% market share as a commodity makes 100% sense
  • Cofique is in a battle of being a Brand vs commodity, halfway through the journey they diverted from the ‘Me Too Brand’ idea by placing few design elements on their packaging

The Present

After 4 consecutive years, the management at Goody decided to take action to evolve Cofique from a ‘Me Too Brand’ to ‘Somewhat I’m different’. Clearly the re-positioning exercise missed many different attributes of change but again the end result in our region as ‘Brand’ is Design and Advertising. I still have to give Cofique the credit to the new offering which is not too distant from Nescafe’s offers

  • Cofique (the name) is well connected to ‘Me Too Brand of Nescafe’. Most Cofique consumers use Cofique as second choice to Nescafe, the name still validates Nescafé’s Brand attributes. Should the mission be evolution or revolution? Re-Branding, Re-Positioning or a whole new Brand altogether? Cofique’s management says ‘Equity’, well what is this equity associated with?
  • If we think of the recent changes that Cofique initiated, the question would be: Did Cofique needed a Re-Branding or a Re-Positioning exercise? If the strategy was to move completely away from Nescafé and create sub category then a new Brand was needed, if the reason is to identify market opportunity and fill the gap, then Re-positioning would be the best and still both type of evolution are dictated by the new business strategy. If Cofique re-positioned, GREAT! But to what? Flavored coffee? Instant coffee? The name is so much associated with Nescafé that the current SKUs are not too distant from Nescafe’s offerings; in fact I don’t see the Brand relevance
  • As much as I agree that Cofique needed to evolve from the ‘Me Too Brand’ taboo, I excepted a Revolution not an Evolution. Cofique needs a personal identity and a Value that will elevate the Brand from the shadow of Nescafé. The Goody coffee brand needed a new name but still holding on to the name ‘Cofique’ makes room for just another commodity, only
  • It’s clear to the management that Brand Equity is the priority, keeping the name Cofique is a must, it’s the Equity they care for but to us as Brand experts the name is a plague, it’s associated to Nescafé Brand Signals. Nescafé owns the SKU 3 in 1 and Cofique offers the same proposition so in terms of strategy, Cofique promotes Nescafe’s 3 in 1
  • Nescafé’s 3 in 1 makes Cofique the second choice based on Price (commodity)
  • Cofique will enjoy sales and gain market but not for long if the vision was to build a Brand rather than create just another commodity

So what is Cofique’s Re-Positioning besides following Nescafe’s Value and Re-Designed packaging? Will Cofique evolve further? Yes, plenty of money to be made as a second choice to Nescafé but only as a commodity and not as a Brand

I wish for Cofique and the management of Goody the best with the relaunch, their Marketing strategy and Brand strategy are worlds apart

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 28th December, 2014