We are living in interesting times. Changes in technology are putting a lot of pressure on jobs – whether you have one or not. In response, you feel there’s an agenda that you, and everyone else, has to become an entrepreneur.
By the way, we, HerBusiness, only present to you tons of information and opportunities that are out there so you can make the best choice. The truth is that you don’t really become an entrepreneur or a business person until you make your first sale. And to a random person, for that matter, selling to your family and friends doesn’t count.
Selling your product is important. Unfortunately, this process has become convoluted with buzzwords and none is more prominent than “brand.”
What is brand? Nobody seems able to define it. Everyone wants to throw a weasel word here and there, then get away with that.Look at this collection of 30 definitions of brand. I can’t deny that I went as far as seek answers from academia.
It does seem ridiculous that you are expected to formulate your business strategy on a concept nobody can nail down. I found that brand is, a cheap term, used in place of market segmentation, product differentiation, business reputation and intangible value addition.
Why do people do this?
With a little reading (weasel words, reading of what? haha), you’ll find that branding took off properly in the 1950s in America. Conveniently, it is at this time that TV became the most influential media platform.
The PR industry in that country then invented most of the ideas surrounding this concept of brand. Today nobody wants to say, “I just want to do a funny advert.” It’s not pretentious enough. You have to say things that don’t make sense like personal brand, brand promise, brand ambassador, brand personality and, my favourite, brand equity.
Let’s pretend that ‘brand equity’ could exist without strong IP laws. There’s this interesting discussion on why IP should be abolished, along the lines of “you cannot own ideas.” We all have come across unlicensed Chinese versions of the “real” thing. But that’s a rabbit hole we won’t get into right now.
The only argument that branding exists is bottled water. Some people believe that there is bottled water that deserves premium pricing – one bottled water is better than the other sort of thinking.
There is no such thing
Don’t take it to be a coincidence that themost successful brands only belong to the biggest businesses in Kenya. This is because of the need to find an explanation for that level of success beyond factors in your face. If something becomes simple, experts become not needed.
Think of Safaricom. Is its success to do with brand or the good mix between pricing and quality (relative to their competition)? This was followed by a networks effect.
You can also think of a global firm like Starbucks. Is its success down to its brand being a lifestyle, as you would be told in a seminar, or is it because they opted to open outlets everywhere they could, to become ubiquitous like mpesa shops?
What entrepreneurs should focus on, in place of brand
You can never go wrong with the classics. This should not just be a tip for your dress code. You are best placed to refer to the 4Ps in order to increase your sales rather than this mirage called power of brand. They are very clear on what you should do.
There is product, which requires you to focus on the utility of what you’re selling. There is place, which is about the distribution of your product. There is promotion, which would describe how you create awareness about your product.
Arguably, the most important of the 4Ps is pricing. The right price not only ensures your business is sustainable but is also the simplest way to comprehend how people value your product. Even when it comes to veblen goods, people see them as valuable because few other people can afford it. Pricing is your most important consideration.
You should not waste your time trying to establish any sort of brand, only big businesses have time for that. This concept distracts you from focusing on efficiency of your operations and quality of your product or service.