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Post COVID-19: SMEs must re-strategize branding approach to survive new normal

Brand expert, Ikechukwu Kalu has advocated that businesses, specially Small and Media Scale Enterprises (SMES) must adopt new approach to market, especially concerning their brand appeal to survive in the post COVID-19 new normal.

Kalu noted that there is the urgent need for some sort of “rebranding” or effective branding for those who had not been on a strong branding trajectory before COVID-19 era.

Kalu, who is the Lead Consultant at Customer Passion Point Limited (CPPL), a firm of Value Creation Consultants providing Marketing, SME Consulting and Training reiterated that the soul of a business is its patronage and the consumers must be at the heart of branding for it to be able to attract, connect and retain patronage.

In his words, “there is the reality of a new normal – social distancing and the changing dynamics of transactions especially for businesses that rely on physical contact and in-store customers, for instance, retail and hospitality. While specific solutions may vary from business to business, some general approaches can be deployed and adapted, as necessary.”

Further, he emphasized that “professional and effective branding is about how your message can connect with your target audience, engage their emotions and shape their perceptions. In this ‘hour of despair’, your customers need to know you care and empathize despite your pains. Communication and messaging must evoke a sense of ‘we are in this together, and we’ll get through it together’. Everyone can do with some comfort, encouragement and hope”.

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Kalu advised business to face the new reality by adopting social distancing protocols, which has more than ever before demonstrated the inevitability of shifting businesses online.

“The front desk, display shelves, Point of Sale have inadvertently moved online. SMEs that will weather the storm must deploy strategic and dynamic online presence and access, to retain customers and attract new ones. The power of branding must be unleashed by creative and compelling messages and visuals that maintain the connection,” he stated.

He reiterated that branding is the deliberate process of creatively and strategically crafting and depositing brand equity that nurtures the entity through stages of brand development, as it has been established over time that businesses and enterprises are built into a formidable brand by deliberate actions of branding.

The stages of branding, he emphasized includes the development of the product and how it is presented to the market for awareness.

“The pass mark of this phase is good presence and acceptance in the market space. The journey to be a brand starts or stops here; the next stage focuses on ways to project what differentiates your products and services from the competition; and the final stage is when a brand emerges as an authentic leader in the market. The brand is credibly established, distinguished from the competition, and has become a benchmark and pacesetter, not just in its sector but also in the larger economy,” he said.

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Kalu, who spoke to the media at an interactive session in Lagos, has been a part of the development of great brands across Manufacturing, Telecommunications and Financial Services.

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