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

Arab CEOs in Vegas

There are several crucial problems in the Arab business world, such as lack of proper Business Structures, hiring by credential and experience rather than favoritism and perception (nationality and origin could play a big role in this part of the world). On the other hand, processing operation upwards and downwards in one stream and not in multiple pour out (I suggest Vertically Integrated organization only works in the Middle East)

The pinnacle problem is that most Arab CEOs (a title on the business card which some have because of experience while others are clueless) are Sellers and not experienced in Management, for the same reason they lack to manage by objectives and are deficient in a proper Corporate Strategies. The truth is that ARAB CEOs are face built on logos and their personal name goes with the logo rather than a tagline, they do lack true fundamental nature of business management. Considering what is said above ,Arab CEOs should run their organizations Vertical rather than Horizontal, due to the fact that they are subjective instead of being objective and visionaries. Ever wondered why our Brands hardly pass our borders? The macro reality says that they are not ready but delusional Arab CEO’s think that in few years they will be in Paris, London and Milan. God bless the CEO of JAL (Japan Airlines) a man that is ready to work and produce.  If we ought to see our brands flourish in global markets we need right brainer CEOs and push the current ones into retirements.  Once someone asked me do Brands die? I said yes, he said how? I said when CEOs go against the will of their target audience or if they assume who their target audience are without Research

Just a morning thought 🙂

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 Branding Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

Arab CEOs’ Great Challenge: Traditionalism vs Professionalism

Arab CEOs are confused about what Marketing really is. Are Arab CEOs so simplistic in their analysis that they believe Advertising is the ultimate solution? There is an underlying issue here and it seems to be repetitive through generations or quite frankly inherited; the mindset of a ‘Know it ALL’ (preventing from listening and adhering to the advice of Experts). Such behavior has held most of the Growth dormant to the point that few had to break away from this grid in order to seek development and sustain growth

Along with these sentiments, another hindering quality is the ideology of bringing Traditional culture into the work place, which controls much of the internal processes. In other words, having the Traditional culture take precedence over the Corporate culture is counterproductive because with two competing methods of operation in one environment it can leave one company fragmented thereby increasing inefficiency resulting from demotivation of the most important stakeholders: The Employees.  Furthermore, these companies are run similar to the Arab CEOs home environment, so there is a refusal to accept alternative solutions that will enhance their organization

Also, something that’s a common trend is to claim to hold a position and not have a clear cut job description. This can truly undermine the internal operations, because some talk about policies and others talk about expansions, while the head of the Marketing department thinks Logo is the Brand and the Brand is the Logo while the Advertising agencies are pitching for Advertising contracts centering around Communications and Promotional tactics. To top it off, the organization is only hiring individuals based on favoritism (personal relationships be it family or friends) over credentials and qualifications. Nationality does play a role as well whether if they are well informed about the subject or not, it doesn’t matter

Lets look at these issues within the context of Marketing. Marketing, as a field, is profoundly misunderstood. Confusing Marketing with Advertising is a fatal mistake that continues to affect businesses across the region. For example, the Marketing department is often allocated resources to simply Advertise or even worse, conduct Ad Sales. This critical department, often the revenue generating one, is so mislead by upper management that the companies see very little or no progress

The question I would ask here is: if you have unqualified employees, impossible CEOs to work for and your Corporate culture is driven by Traditional culture, then what do you expect your operation to look like? Secondly, what do you expect from Marketing or rather any department, when you have such an inefficient operation?

The responsibility that the CEO takes is that he or she is leader of the organization. The CEO must accept diversity and implement the proper changes in order to achieve results. A smart CEO won’t act like Jack of all Trades but he would listen to his advisers to cut the cost of his own error and produce results

The questions one should ask are:

  • Where do you want your company to be tomorrow?
  • How competitive would you like your company to be?

AND finally, realize that Marketing is the source of your income, NOT Advertising or your Cost-cutting Finance department

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 Branding Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com