Changing Times For Marketers
A bold entrepreneur once wrote about brands and branding that “…some of the most valuable assets are those that accountants cannot count yet…”
The 21st century is a millennium that will be remembered most in history as the era of radical innovation, an era where men and women could create ideas from thought to completion and implementation with the speed of light and thought. This will equally be a period where depth and breath will be eroded the most. The challenge with speed – quick turnarounds the competitive quest to be first to market with an idea; is that often quick results are brought to bear at the peril of well thought through qualitative outcomes.
Meaningful Branding is by far more than just matching words and pictures to a logo or a name, if well planned and orchestrated, it’s a tangible way of immortalising the embedded value of a business, especially it’s products and services – so that year after year of radical product innovation is embraced warmly by consumers, brand-users or clients.
Such is the branding stuff that well defined and managed brands promises shareholders – sustainable growth in bottom line revenues, lowers customer acquisition cost, increased customer retention and profitability. The brand-builder that cracks this code also cracks the code of a new vocabulary, a business language that redefines the conventional wisdom of trademarks, creating an affinity with brands that another bold entrepreneur termed “lovemarks” and “trustmarks”.
Brands and branding is a practical science that well mastered creates astonishing magic in business, through this magic men and women essentially picture-smiths and wordsmiths tap into the irrational carving a new place for products, services and commodities in the hearts and minds of those touched by these pieces of communication. In a normal unpolarised society these craftspersons are important soothsayers that assist nations rediscover and often laugh at themselves.
In polarised society these craftspersons remain subjects of controversy sometimes; even condemnation. South Africa is at this crossroad – a point where those in the business of brands and branding have to take a stand and assume their place as catalysts for nation building or undermine nation building and in the process affront and inflict further pain onto an already fragile national fabric.
Branding is also a way to leverage success, expand market share, and fend off competition. In climates of polarity, especially with a constitutional and human rights value-system that places a high price tag on Equality and Respect for Human Dignity, a marketing strategy has to crack the code of diversity in communications. Once that success is attained, it has to ultimately have a rub-off effect on the craftspersons (copywriter and art director), who have to give it creative expression, in a manner that strengthens that marketers sense of license to do business.
Tony Manning speaking at the recent launch of the MFSA Branch in Pretoria had an incredible way of articulating this – “…it is the ticket to the game…” So if you are in South Africa and you want to play the game of business year after year after year – you better get on with the programme! Transform your marketing department, transform your advertising agency – hold them accountable or perish with them!
The value of this “…ticket to the game.” is further reinforced by Tom Peters – “…An obsession with branding isn’t simply a “marketing department” issue. It’s an accounts receivable issue; a purchasing issue; an information systems issue; Heaven knows – a human resources issue! Every decision … every system … should reflect, visibly, the specific attention to (obsession with) BRANDING!…”
Branding, transformation, marketing in a radically transforming society such as South Africa have one common meaning and value = Catalysts for Growth!
Mpho Makwana – Chief Executive Officer, MFSA