Brand terrorism in entrepreneurship – The Standard

As the saying goes. “If you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones.” We are all in this situation as brand entrepreneurs. Our promises must be fulfilled by customers.

Failure is not an option here, especially when our brand has already captured a huge market share. It came to mind when I witnessed some of our promising SMEs die on their own.

Especially when they overpromise, misrepresent, falsify and mislead their brand followers. Imagine!!! Our core business is to satisfy these customers (both internal and external) by providing them with true value for money, the best care, a consistent good brand experience and ultimately the satisfaction we once promised during our inception and growth.

Sometimes we go off the rails and point our assault weapons at those who stood by us until success and glory. Real brands keep their promise.

Any brand change should be through progressive/elevating creativity that serves the best customer wishes at the time (you need to know your customers’ current needs and match the brand promise).

In fact, customers shouldn’t feel used by a brand in its launch and co-op campaigns, instead they should grow to become strategic partners.

The customer should mirror their past consumption of your brand and smile all the way, telling them to look at this wonderful journey we’ve been on so far.

Like we do at the holidays reflecting on past family/friend experiences and saying “Always Coca Cola”.

It is a bright approach in customer brand relationship management. However, we are always in our strategic planning boards developing a defense mechanism to deal with our own customer enquiries/suggestions/feedback.

We always say that competition is the cause of low brand adoption and SME failure.

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This is not always the case, we as business/brand owners also contribute to this reversal. When our once best loyal customer (both internal and external) becomes our enemy for one reason or another.

I call this brand terrorism in the age of entrepreneurship. Charity begins at home, and in this edition we jump into the Nitti Gritties.

To begin with, our employees/subordinates are the brand’s first closer customers (internal), as hinted at in our previous publications.

Yes, having a human resource management department is a must for our SMEs, but that is not the end of it.

In fact, it is just the beginning. Typically, employee concerns are seen as purely monetary (which is not always enough, as those in the employee motivation school are finding and saying).

In my opinion, salaries and wages have become too hygienic these days. Most employees/subordinates are motivated by caring, compassion, caring and truthfulness towards the overall institutional brand.

One that sees internal customer ownership as a launching point for other network/external rewards. The fact is that the employees themselves are the image of the SME brand.

In case of dissatisfaction, the same will apply to the presenting brand. Our external customers want to associate with a happy brand who is your employee.

A person who gives them smiles on the way home and back. There is a happy employee to brand transition mechanism that reflects comfort in the mind of the end customer in the market.

Brand terrorism, as seen from this perspective, is when an SME owner considers their own profitability/wellbeing before the first internal customer.

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Simple things like a thank you, a smile, a token, an award and balanced teamwork are also important here, not silos based on excellence. Your employees should be part of the brand vision as strategic owners, not followers.

Remember they are closer to the external customers/world as the interface to the SME (doing a front office role directly into processes, production and retail). This is branding through a people-led value/supply chain.

People improve brand visibility through interaction, especially if it is well integrated and updated with the latest technology/social media. More could be said from this point of view, but a story for another day.

Then it’s on to the other side of the overarching story, which is the golden goose. That external customer who is the most reason to do business with us.

I call this the low-hanging fruit, as is often the case in current constructive domains. Together, these external customers form the market, primarily as demand for our products/services.

My colleagues here, we must not make any simple mistakes to accelerate brand terrorism. Imagine suing your client or defending your failure to deliver on various platforms (mainly social media). This is self-defeating because the customer is always right.

Whatever the case, the customer must be respected and cared for by brand owners through a self-correcting approach. I was shocked when one of our growing businesses publicly questioned a customer claim on Facebook. That’s a recipe for disaster. In fact, the highest degree of brand terrorism.

In this perspective, our investment as thriving SMEs should be on having responsible public relations and communication tools that bring money into the business. Where we even go beyond simple conversations and communication to consulting, supporting and partnering with clients. Here the client will feel at home and loved. Here’s what brands need to do.

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Finally, we have prioritized growth throughout our operations. Of course, this is what confirms progress when we evaluate performance overtime. This can be our own or compared to others in the same market/industry.

We have seen that this can be done through strategic partnerships and venture capitalization.

However, we must do this with caution, otherwise we invite brand terrorism in these actions. If this is done without due diligence, there is a chance to put the brand in the hands of terrorists (those with a known negative reputation).

There is a need for careful evaluation, especially by linking these partnerships to the brand’s short-term and long-term vision, before making a decision.

Those in the school of economics might agree that some expansion can lead to diseconomies of scale. Consultation is essential for the suitability and evaluation of these strategic partnerships. Until then, I leave it to you to develop a clear Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) before partnering with any brand.

Dr. Farai Chigora is a businessman and academic. He is Head of Business Science, College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Management, Africa University. His doctoral research focused on business management (major in destination marketing and branding, Ukzn, SA). He is involved in agribusiness and consults for many companies in Zimbabwe and Africa. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted for feedback and business at [email protected], WhatsApp Mobile: +263772886871.

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