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Posts Tagged ‘branding strategies’

For any business owner or leader out there; the moment of truth kinda of question could be the following one asked by Jim Collins (according to this HBR blog post):

If your company went out of business tomorrow, would anybody really miss it and why?

Although it’s a simple question, its answer contains the essence of the organization, its soul, and its whole purpose of being alive and competing in the market. If a leader or a number of executives failed to answer such question, then there must be something wrong!

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=confused+woman&iid=5191135″ src=”http://view3.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/5191135/close-young-woman-with-her/close-young-woman-with-her.jpg?size=500&imageId=5191135″ width=”234″ height=”234″ /]There are some interesting points the blog post is referring to in case a leader wants to know why his/her company should be missed. But let’s look at it from the other way around. Let’s see it through the eyes of you; the customer. Think for a moment of a company that you will be really missing if you heard now that it will be a history starting from tomorrow, and why would you miss it?

If you honestly answer this question, your answers will be almost the same as those mentioned in the HBR post, the answers that every business leaders should be aspiring to and working on having in his/her company.

Allow me to be the first to start … These are my choices:

  • Starbucks: This is by far my most favorite brand in the world. You could even say that I am emotionally connected to it. Noting that I am neither a heavy coffee drinker nor someone who spend a lot of times in coffee shops. But I admire it because I feel that they care. They care about the quality of their products and the quality of the services they are providing.
  • Sony: The Japanese electronic manufacturer will be my second choice. I trust whatever products they’re producing. Whenever I see Sony, I see high quality.
  • P&G: Proctor & Gamble, the known FMCG manufacturer. There are no choices whenever that one of the products to be choosing from carries this company name. They have a vast range of brands under P&G, and they are all my first choices especially in Health & Well being and Household care categories.

Now, what are your favorite brands and why?

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From my iPhone

This question is directed to the producers of the light snacks known as “Loozeen”. To the marketers of Western Bakeries Co. the subsidiary of the Saudi giant company “Almarai.” Seriously guys, what were you thinking choosing this image for your campaign? What is the brand message that you were trying to deliver?

The campaign has been launched a couple of days ago and it is meant to raise the awareness of the fact that “Loozeen” has added more stuffing into its products. You know, more cheese, more chocolate etc. The execution of the idea, assuming that there is an idea to begin with!, is one of the poorest campaign that I have ever seen in the Saudi market. And these are the reasons:

  • There is no apparent relation between the campaign and the message they wanted to deliver. So you have more cheese in your snacks; how that is related to the homeless looking guy featured on your ads everywhere!!!
  • Even if we forced ourselves to accept whatever message they were trying to deliver, the picture is poorly taken and has no appealing, no personality, no innovation, and no artistic touch.
  • Now please explain this to me; this is a food related product, right? So why the picture is soooooooo disgusting? What kind of a mental association were they trying to leave on their customers’ minds? And how is that freaky looking homeless has been chosen to represent and carry a message of a food brand anyway?

What is really striking is that “Loozeen” has a quite good position in the market already. I can even go further and claim that they do not have a serious competitor in this particular category of the market. Moreover, their earliest campaign with the tagline of ‘have a snack … have Loozeen’ was so successful to the point that you would hear people say it whenever the idea of having a snack comes across their minds! That’s definitely a huge and extraordinary brand positioning success. So why ruining all that with this poorly executed campaign?

Finally, my ‘free spirit statement,’ although I have a brother-in-law working in Western Bakeries, he had not influenced this post in anyway possible, and I really hope that he will not get mad at me if he ever read this post 🙂

What do you think? And you could start by stating the first thing that came to your mind when you saw the ad picture?

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Let me ask you something; what is the first thing that might form your first impression of a country that you visit for the first time? If you thought of those gentlemen, or ladies, sitting behind desks checking you up with sharp eyes while stamping your passport, then you are right; they are the immigration officers.

I am really glad to read this piece of news about the Saudi General Directorate of Passports (GDP). Its management is planning to provide its staff with intensive English and etiquette trainings. Now this is something really interesting.

Looking from unbiased eye, there is something that you should really respect and admire in these people, I mean the Saudi GDP officials. They want to develop and they are sweating over it. Compared to a number of government service agencies; I would choose them to be my favorite. For me, and I am writing this from Jeddah, they are the only government destination that I won’t worry so much about whenever I am obligated to visit. They have a process and everything there is clear and systematic. I am not saying everything is perfect, but it is somehow organized.

It is the only government agency, from where I see it at least, that adopted some customers service and branding principles from the private sector. They are the only government body that recognized its role as a service provider in addition to its main and official roles. They have gotten closer to their customers by being present in some of the finest malls in the country. They have run a powerful public awareness campaign introducing their new biometrics system. They have provided several and unprecedented electronic services such as Ishaar, Muqeem, and Passports Gate.

And as we are talking about marketing and branding, I really hope that they would change their location in jeddah. It is not that much when we talk ‘brand image.’ ‘Place’ is one of the 7 P’s of service marketing and creating a distinguished service experience, no matter how organized it is from the operational point of view, cannot be completed without a proper place, a proper environment.

Having said that, all the above mentioned services are still for citizens and those living within the country. But when we talk about the Saudi gates and how immigrations officials are dealing with visitors, mmm, the image is not that bright! So by recognizing the problem and working on solving it by providing the above mentioned trainings, I really hope the Directorate efforts will turn out to be a smashing success. After all, it is not only about their brand image, it is the whole country image.

Finally, my ‘free spirit’ statement; I do not know anybody working in the Saudi GDP, and this post has not been influenced by them in anyway 🙂

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Companies that have any kind of live interaction with customers are better to train their employees not to complain about the company itself or customers in front of other customers!! What kind of a message they would be delivering when you hear the sales agent behind the counter complaining about another customer and accusing him of being stupid because all what the customer did was asking him about different products and then bought nothing! or when you hear a customer service agent complaining about his/her own company policies and procedures.

This is all part of the service experience the customer is having by being present on your premises or talking to your staff on the phone. The way your company’s staffs interact with customers should be part of your holistic brand design. It is all about the image you would like to leave on your customers’ minds, the message you would like to deliver to build a loyalty ground so customers will come back again and again!

And just to let you know, I witnessed the above given examples in both a restaurant and a pharmacy!!

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[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=angry+manager&iid=5243917″ src=”0/1/9/1/Angry_businessman_yelling_2fea.jpg?adImageId=8774502&imageId=5243917″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]Here is an interesting question asked by Gill Corkindale in her HBR blog; does your company’s reputation really matter? She is arguing that some big companies in certain industries do not really care about customer services! Despite regular customers complains, such companies are keeping their lousy performances and customers are still coming back.

The blog post is filled with examples and cases supporting her point; and thinking about it, we do have our own fair share of examples: our beloved Saudi Airlines (I love Saudi Airlines so much; I already have two posts about them 🙂 here and here), most of service industries and most, if not all, public services are bright examples of lousy performers.

Lack of competition is the most obvious reason comes to your mind in your desperate need to understand those companies’ mindsets. That could be true in a lot of cases and, furthermore, even with some minimum competition, the situation is not that different. Again, Saudi Airlines and its competitors are good examples. Saudia has the power and the support of the government while NAS and SAMA are struggling to get a small piece of the cake.

However, I would not accept this point as a justification, or at least as the only justification. There is another big problem in our own behavior and mindset; I am talking about us, customers!

I believe we mostly lack a certain understanding of our own rights. We acknowledge companies’ mistreating us, we get angry about it, may be shouting all the way and telling everybody about it, and … that’s it! We return to these companies and use their products/services again! If there is no alternative and the company is enjoying a monopoly state in the market; then it is really sad for you, you do not have a choice! Actually you still have the option of making official complains, talking to their managers, and even going and talk to regulatory bodies supervising their sector. The most important point, do not simply let it go!

Finally, those companies ignorant enough at the moment should always remember that they might face the moment of truth when the market is opened for real competition. Globalization is a trend; and one of the lessons coming with it is customer services philosophy as an essential aspect of companies’ differentiation strategies.

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It is time to talk about another local business success story; and how can we talk about successful organizations without talking about Al-Baik.

It is next to impossible that you are living in Jeddah or ever visited it without being to Al-Baik. The local fast food chain has been around since 1974. After 35 years by now, the restaurant is mainly operating in Jeddah with minimum number of branches in Makkah, Madinah, Yanbu and Taif. Arguably, Al-Baik possesses the highest market share and customer loyalty amongst its competitors especially in Jeddah; noting that when I say competitors, I mean international multibillion brands like McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut etc …

Let’s shed some lights on Al-Baik main success recipes :

–          The Quality & Price: for those of you familiar with the debate surrounding Porter’s Generic strategies, Al-Baik is a living proof that you could follow a strategy that combines both differentiation and cost leadership. Although there are a lot of restaurants serving fried chicken, the quality and taste of Al-Baik are certainly unique and its prices are way below the average.

–          The Trustworthy Brand: Al-Baik has a very strong brand equity whether we are measuring it by evaluating the restaurants’ products or by studying its brand impact on customers. Al-Baik brand communicates strong messages of quality, fast service, trust, affordability, convenience, and social responsibility. Its management has been very smart emphasizing these values into the brand using different methods of advertisements, public relations, or even by spreading stories about the brand. The entrepreneurial story of its founder and how he struggled to raise his community awareness about eating outside the home which was strange back then and how he has been working alone in the restaurant preparing the food, serving it, and then cleaning the small shop are all meant to build some kind of connection with its customers. Also, some suspense and mystery would not hurt either; the secret chicken formula that is only known by few individuals is one of the most preferred stories amongst such food and beverages organizations (didn’t you hear similar stories about Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and KFC?)

–           Superb Customer Service: whether we are talking about fast service, servicescape design, or cleanness of the restaurants environment; Al-Baik is providing exemplary services in all of that. Even more, Al-Baik is one of the few restaurants that introduced items to the menu based solely on customers’ suggestions.

–          Convenient Locations: Al-Baik marketers are masters in choosing locations for their restaurants; I have never seen a branch of Al-Baik without it being packed with customers. The huge expansions they carried out in Jeddah have been built on population distribution analysis. That is why wherever you live in Jeddah now; there must be Al-Baik branch within your easy reach.

–          Social Responsibility: Al-Baik has always been known for its socially related campaigns. They have a regular presence in Hajj seasons providing free meals to pilgrims and they are periodically campaigning for environmentally related causes like banning smoking in their restaurants or preserving the city clean image. Furthermore, their active participation in the aftermath of Jeddah floods by providing free meals to those devastated by the catastrophe is one shiny example of how organizations could be interacting with its society.

Nevertheless, staying on the top is not an easy job. Al-Baik management has to deal with many issues to facilitate its growth. One of these important issues is on the mind of every fan who happen to live outside Jeddah; how much should they expand? Should they consider opening new branches in other cities at the Kingdom? What about being multinational or even global?

Moreover, how Al-Baik should respond to the growing concerns raised by healthy and organic foods advocates (it is selling fried chicken, right!!)? And most importantly, how its managers are going to maintain its competitive advantages and how are they going to nurture its sustainability strategy?

Finally, the free spirit statement; this is to confirm that I do not know, or have any relation with anyone working at Al-Baik management or restaurants, and this post has not been influenced by Al-Baik or any of its partners in any way …

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It seems that Saudi companies are not yet sure about the importance of social media marketing and whether it should play a role in their marketing and branding strategies or not. Internationally, using social media tools (e.g. Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Youtube channels, etc …) is becoming THE trend among other marketing tools and initiatives.

 When the buzz about the potential use of social media in creating an added value to their brands, companies were just waiting to see how things will turn around. Justifying the costs of resources they will dedicate to build such a social media presence was the main concern occupying the minds of these companies’ managements. In other words, managers were thinking; what is the return on such investment?

The global marketing scene has moved from this basic step to discuss the specifics of having a successful presence online. The question of ‘should we have social media accounts?’ has been changed to ‘how to relate and engage with our customers using social media accounts?’. So it is not about the presence anymore, it is about the engagement. According to a study by Wetpaint and Altimeter Group, there is a correlation between a company’s social media engagement and its profit (more on this point is here). That means these social media accounts can be used as a channel of communication with customers. To be successful, this channel has to be dealt with as a long term investment and a major activity for marketing and branding teams. The presence should be alive, active, and emotionally engaging to the customers. Small gestures like saying ‘thank you’ to a Twitter customer, or saying ‘we will make sure to fix that’ on a Facebook page could make a difference with customers and boost their loyalty to the company.

Now, I have been looking around Twitter to check out Saudi companies’ presence over there. And it seems that most of them are in the trap of ‘cold social media presence’. The giant, Saudi Aramco has 351 followers only, can you believe that? Check out now the telecom rivals STC and Mobily, pretty cold, isn’t? Now for the sake of a quick comparison, check out Qatar Airways Twitter account, you can even feel the difference, right!!

If you have any examples of effective social media presence to share with us, I would be grateful to hear.

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