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15.04.2008 Business & Finance

Re-Branding Is key To Competitiveness - Business Development Expert

Companies need to engage in serious re-branding of their products periodically to enable them to compete favourably and to continue to remain in business.

After carefully assessing the present position of the brand in the market place , the future threats and prospects, programmes such as re-launching, re-positioning, re-energising, re-packaging could be embarked upon, while considering steps that will build the expected strong image and identity of those brands.

The Business Development Manager of Orgin8 Saatchi & Saatchi, Mr Henry Asante-Donkor, told a business forum that companies which dealt in diverse brands should handle them in such a way that when one brand died, or reached the decline stage, it did not die along with another brand.

He said companies would need to seriously look at their brands beyond the usual television, radio and print media in their information dissemination and should take a critical look at content and make use of a specific type of communication.

Mr Asante-Donkor gave the advice when he gave a talk on “Managing Brands in a developing country context” during a forum organised by the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) at Legon.

The business development manager explained that often changes in the tastes and preferences of consumers, as well as the entry into the market of new competitors or the advent of technology, coupled with general changes in the marketing environment, adversely affected a company's brands.

It is important that this unfortunate turn of business be reversed or improved, and these include looking at several factors within and without, such as how similar products are doing, saying effective approaches were required in order to achieve the desired results.

He observed that businesses had the tendency to neglect employees who were internal customers and that people often did not own the brand internally, an area that should be addressed seriously.

Making reference to, Chris Fill (2002) the well known marketing expert,Mr Asante-Donkor suggested various ways that companies could bring back life into their dying brands.

These included sponsoring events which could include townhall meetings and organising business fora.

Fill noted in 2002 that “branding is a method of separation and positioning so that customers can recognise and understand what a brand stands for, relative to other brands.
 
Brands provide the means by which a product can be seen to be different from a competitor's product. A successful brand therefore, is one which creates and sustains a strong, positive and lasting impression in the mind of a buyer”

Mr Asante-Donkor noted that often branding was the last item on most budgets, but he stressed that the issue of branding was so important that companies should give it a better attention.

The Chief Executive Officer of Legacy and Legacy, (Combert Impressions), Mr Albert Ocran, stressed the need for people who intended to operate their own businesses to develop a clear and written business plan, which should examine every angle of the business.

“It was also important for people to have great ideas and look for unique things. They must think big, but start small and grow big and think outside the box and differentiate themselves,” he stressed.

Mr Ocran called for a strong customer focus, which among others should involve comfort and convenience, speed, safety and security, cost, quality, ego, health and fitness.

He advised those entering business to be abreast of numeralcy, stick to their budgets and desist from impressing people, but they should endeavour to work with the right team.

A Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS), Dr Joshua Abor, spoke on “Financial Markets and Financial Policy of Firms in Emerging Economies” and said the Ghanaian stock market was fairly developed, with about 35 listed.

He noted that the management of the exchange was intensifying efforts to get more companies listed.

He made reference to the results of a study that examined the importance of financial market development in the financing policy of firms in emerging economies, which showed that stock market capitalisation had a negative effect on leverage,read by ho suggesting that firms in developed stock markets were in the position to raise equity capital from the market.

He said the study indicated that if emerging market countries were able to develop a well functioning bond market, firms would be able to access debt finance more easily.

Dr Abor said the stock market development could be associated with the use of more external capital, while bond market development may lead to reliance on internal capital and firms in emerging markets would move towards issuing shares to raise external equity from the stock market.

— Story by Kate Baaba Hudson

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