Now, if you love comedy like most people do, you could have come across some renowned comedians whose memory, actions, image etc. cannot be easily forgotten. As a starting point, the mention of historical comedians such as Eddy Murphy, Mr. Bones and others can easily bring a smile on your face if you ever met them. I mean, meeting them through their videos, shows, on TV’s, physical appearances or whatever. Being an African, I cannot fail to mention some African brands in comedy. Names such as Anne Kansiime (Ugandan Queen of African Comedy – remember the famous Don’t Mess with Kansiime videos); Bright Okpocha aka Basket Mouth (Nigerian – first African comedian to host a show at the Apollo in London); Klint Da Drunk (Nigeria); Eddie Kadi (UK based Congolese Comedian); Eric Omondi (Kenyan stress doctor), Patrick Idringi aka Salvado (Ugandan – the man from Ombokolo) are names that cannot be forgotten. If you are a comedian and your name is not here don’t worry. Possibly next time!

I guess you are already smiling broadly or even laughing out loudly just at the mention of some of the above names. If you have never had an exposure to any of these comedians, I can assure you that you are missing fantabulous things. Simply check out some of their videos on the internet and you can have an idea of what I’m talking about here. These ladies and guys are just comedy in themselves. With the busy modern life, you can release some stress by watching these comedians in action. Why am I referring to comedy today? I’m talking about brands and branding. So, what is a brand? You can literally get hundreds of definitions of brands, but we will proceed with this mix. A brand could be a unique design, name, logo or mark, symbol, words or a combination of these; that creates an image which identifies and differentiates products or entities from others. It makes that product or company distinct. It’s a very valuable intangible asset of a business, associated with the level of customer satisfaction, product or service quality and credibility, hence a trademark. I don’t think this definition can do any mental damage but if you leave it to the professional marketers to do it for you, it could get complex.

What then, are the 7 things an entrepreneur must know regarding the value of branding?

  1. A brand is visible. It is difficult for the observant eye to ignore brands. Brands are top of the mind and therefore you need to be thinking ‘down upside’ to successfully ignore them. Do you understand what I mean? I challenge you. If you drove or walked out from your current location for a couple of minutes, I’m sure you will witness a brand somewhere. Don’t mind me; I’m assuming that you are not in some very remote location on earth with strange Google coordinates. However, the fact that you are accessing this blog confirms that you are accessing some internet signals, so not a bad start anyway. Brands are visible. A brand has identity and recognition, including a relatable experience. If you know any of the comedians I mentioned above, can you fail to spot them in public or anywhere?  You can hold your answer.
  1. A brand speaks. Brands set expectations to the market, and the general public, about the credibility and reliability of the products and services including the entity that is providing or promoting them. Brands conjure images and expectations in terms of size and quality. The market trusts brands and knows there are fewer risks in choosing them, than just bumping onto any product or service out there. Don’t you think so? So, Mr. Entrepreneur, do you have a brand? Is your brand speaking? You don’t need to yell always to tell people about your products and services if you have developed a strong brand. It takes time and effort, but you will get to the time when your business brand will do the talking for you, while you go to the beach to cool off. Isn’t this nice? By the way, I’m not yanking you away from your desk. If you like you can stick there forever and avoid the beach. Ok?   
  1. A brand attracts. Do you know that brands also have the attractive ingredients of loyalty and shared values? There is a sense of belonging that some brands have created, that keeps on bringing more and more people. Why don’t you gradually work towards this my dear Entrepreneur? This attraction, with the associated loyalty, shared values, sense of belonging and commitment means that you will have a sustainable enterprise. This is due to the fact that you have a sustainable market. You also benefit from low marketing costs in such scenarios. Do you see the thousands of people that the above comedians attract to their shows? Sometimes tickets are sold out. In other words there is no more space to accommodate more fans otherwise the numbers could go crazily higher! Do you get it?
  1. A brand pays. Another important thing an entrepreneur must know about branding, is the intrinsic value of brands. Something intrinsic is something occurring naturally, as an essential part of a thing. It is something inherent or innate within a thing, entity, person etc. This intrinsic nature means that you can overprice or obtain a premium. I know that some socialists can attack me because of the word ‘overpricing’. It’s a free world and everybody is entitled to their opinion. If you have people who willingly overprice and they do this to people who willingly overpay, the game is settled. No one stops you from buying cheap. Ok? So, back to my point, brands are not price sensitive and this means that demand does not easily move in tandem with changes in prices of branded products and services. It is also difficult to undercut a brand. Do you now understand why people fight for tickets to watch the above comedians and some footballers? Do you understand why some brands in products such as perfumes, clothing lines, sell at crazy prices? How about the hotel industry; why do some people part with $1,000 for a night in a room made with human hands and on earth? I guess you now know why a brand pays. Mr. Entrepreneur, the ball is in your court! You can smile to the bank through the power of branding. But remember, it takes time and effort.
  1. A brand lasts if well managed. Sure – well managed brands last forever. I can remember growing up with brands such as Colgate, Blue band etc. My parents used them. These have been there across generations. I guess you can name such ageless brands in whatever part of the world you are in, and in whatever industry you like. Businesses come and go but some powerful brands stick around. They are memorable and familiar, stable assets that retain the market, friends and well-wishers. The only limitation with personal brands is nature. I mean old age. And that is why some individual brands fade away with time. However for products and services, including the entities that produce and promote them, these could last for decades and centuries as long as they are well managed. I must emphasize this aspect of management, because there are brands that have taken the way of dinosaurs in the modern business world. Talk about poor brand management, strategic void, illegalities, and insensitivity to the market and change, inability to reinvent and rediscover and similar or related issues. Nothing else under the sun that I know! I mean no other very good earthly reasons.
  1. A brand opens doors. Mr. Entrepreneur or Madam Entrepreneur (for the very seriously gender sensitive ones), your brand is a way maker. Let me ask you a question. Do you think that any reasonable Visa Officer in any embassy can deny granting a visa to the likes of Kansiime, Eddie Kadi, Basket Mouth etc. anyhow? It must be some very serious thing, or probably simply lack of clue regarding that particular visa applicant. So, brands open doors. Branding makes it possible for enterprises to easily introduce new products and product lines, cross sell, make product or service extensions etc. It’s easy for Genevieve (Nigerian actress) to successfully promote a clothing line. It’s pretty easy for the Messi’s, Ronaldo’s, Suarez’s, and Aguero’s (famous footballers) to successfully introduce and promote things related to games and also things entirely out of the football arena. Do you understand? Brands open doors!
  1. A brand ensures market leadership or high ranking. Last but not least, brands ensure market leadership or high market ranking, again if well managed. I want to be wise enough to include this disclaimer of good management. It’s easy for someone to jump up and down with a brand and lose steam while mishandling the brand. You will have nobody to blame when you do this. You will carry your own cross. Ok? Indeed, a brand can give you an edge in the market. With plenty of fans, your positioning becomes easy. Enquiries and queries regarding your entity, products and services etc. are often answered by the market or the public, with hardly any effort on your side. Isn’t this terrific my dear entrepreneur?

In closing, the above are important things every entrepreneur must know about the value of brands and branding. If you are an entrepreneur who has never started your branding journey, I suggest that you start it now. I mean, today! Yes – you can. If you have no clue, search for some serious brand consultant (not just any masquerader) for advice and get going.

Enjoy the new week,

Till then,

The Wise Entrepreneur

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