By Folake Olagunju I
A new twist was introduced to the Interbrand’s top most valuable brands in the world this year, as a Chinese brand, Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider, made it into the list for the very first time in 15 years.
The list, which was released earlier on in the month by the world’s leading brand consultancy firm, had Apple Inc., which displaced Coke from the top spot last year, retaining the No. 1 spot with a brand value of $118.9 billion, a 21 per cent increase from last year, while Google clinched the second place with a value of $107.43 billion, representing a 15 per cent increase.
According to Jez Frampton, Interbrand’s worldwide chief executive officer, the firm examines three basic components before deciding on the brands that get into the list. These components are: an analysis of the monetary overall performance of the branded merchandise or solutions, the function the brand plays in obtaining decisions and the brand’s global competitive strength. Interbrand also gathers financial information from Thomson Reuters and customer goods information from Datamonitor.
He explained that Huawei’s rapid growth and long-term investments in its brand helped it earn a place among the world’s most valuable brands, as it is poised to dominate key areas of the information technology market from mobile phones to networks.
The Chinese ICT solutions provider and telecommunications equipment company, which ranked 94th on the list of top 100 brands, is a brand that has had close ties with the Nigerian soil ever since it established the Huawei Nigeria office 15 years ago. Today, Huawei is fast becoming a preferred ICT solutions provider for many telecom technology and service consumers. It is also a fast growing smartphone brand in Nigeria.
With 65 per cent of its revenue coming from outside of China, coupled with the fact that Nigeria is so much of a technology consuming country, it can be assumed that Nigeria has had a large role to play in Huawei’s growth, leading to its emergence as a global brand.
It is however unfortunate that Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, with so much going on in its business climate, cannot boast of any brand that is anywhere near the Interbrand’s list since the last 15 years when it first made its debut. With business moguls like Aliko Dangote of the Dangote Group, who ranks 23rd in the Forbes Billionaires List of 2014, with a net worth of $25 billion, producing an array of products that are not so big in a global sense, and Nigeria’s top brands like Zenith Bank, Globacom, Flour Mills, GTBank etc still falling far from the basics, one wonders at the possibility of a Nigerian brand making the list in the near future.
With the share size of market that the Nigerian population provides, and the possibility of reaching the rest of Africa and beyond, it should not be a dream too big for a Nigerian brand to aspire to be among the top 100 in the world. Nevertheless, this idea seems far-fetched as things stand now. It would be safe to say that most Nigerian brands are not doing enough to get them noticed globally, and are not doing well enough in terms of brand distinction and recognition.
Nigerian brands need to be better positioned. With this, they would have the stored energy needed to grow and flourish. Successful positioning rejects conformity, but elevates a brand above the fray, so that people can’t help but take notice. According to hingemarketing.com, a brand and marketing website, the human brain instinctively looks for things that are different and unexpected.
So a brand that stands in stark contrast to its competition will attract people’s attention and have a distinct advantage in the marketplace. Unfortunately, many Nigerian brands are built on complexity; so it is difficult for consumers to define what they stand for. For instance, when Dangote is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the man himself, then, probably the cement, and that is not even so clear. It is surprising that there are so many other products by the same manufacturer that are not given an identity of their own, a practice that may eventually end up creating confusion in the minds of consumers.
In addition, the Nigerian factor of focusing on marginal returns alone at the expense of long term consumer satisfaction may also affect a brand. Most brands are too busy ‘doing business’ to notice if its customers are satisfied or not. A brand exists for the key purpose of being the bridge that connects a product’s or service’s promise with the consumer’s desire. Once it fails in this aspect, it is on its way to failure.
A brand that defaults on its promise does not stand a chance of surviving in its own shores, much less internationally. Until a brand does what it says it would and does it well, the branding cycle is not complete. So there is need, more than ever before, for Nigerian brands, right from inception, to identify what their brand promises are, and put a process in place to see that they are kept.
On the other hand, Nigerians should have a change in their thinking pattern. There is need for a change in perception. There are lots of good products and services coming out of Nigeria these days! If Nigerians believe in Nigerian brands (especially the good ones), patronize them and spread their fame within and outside the country, perhaps, they would have helped in inching them closer in terms of global competiveness.