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

Today’s Ad-Sense

Today Advertising has plunged into the morass of over-communicating the Brand and over-promising the audience concerning Brand Potential. Advertisers fail to address the features of the Brands they advertise, and drive Brands towards being nothing more than fairy tales. This approach turns the Product and the Brand into something you meet instantly and forget instantly. The question is: Can you create a relationship between the Brand and the audience based on this methodology? I’ll leave this for you to answer

The relationship between a company’s Marketing department and the Advertising agency can be quite distant, as the leadership of both entities are often confused about the end deliverables and their expectations from the audience. Most graduates of Multinational companies now working as Brand Managers or Marketers are driven first by Research, then by Advertising, and they believe that these two elements are the strongest factors in making their Brands work. Will it work? My answer: NO!!!! That approach is wrong, and this failing approach is why Multinational Brand Managers often fail to succeed with local Brands

Advertisers for the past two decades have tried to do more than advertise; they have tried to be everything else but the CEO of the company. For this reason, Advertising has failed to work even in its own domain. The simple definition of Advertising is that it should simply create Brand Awareness and drive consumer interest. This is my definition of Advertising as a Brand Marketing Consultant who has been in the field of Marketing for over 20 years with a degree in Marketing from an Ivy-league University

Advertising is an option..

My conclusion concerning the generation change and the decline of the Advertising agencies is that the concept of Branding has a lot more to offer than just something to put on billboards. Companies in our region are now struggling to sustain their growth because Advertising agencies have lured them into huge spending. Yet their Sales are less than 10% of what they’ve spent

Let’s educate the market as to what Marketing is and the purpose of Advertising towards supporting the Marketing podium

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