Samuel Agyeman-Prempeh’s thoughts …Branding and reputational equity

Samuel Agyeman-Prempeh is a corporate trainer and professional ghost-writer assisting busy executives to write and publish their books, articles, and speeches.

In 1266, the first trademark legislation was passed by the Parliament of England under the reign of King Henry II – which required all bakers to use a distinctive mark for the bread they sold. In 1875, there was the passing of the Trademark’s Registration Act, which credited companies with the reserve to own and protect the investments they have made into their products at the UK Patent Office. The Ghanaian jurisdiction has the Trade Mark Regulations (L.I 667) of 1970 to the same effect.

Businesses have over the years sought to create identification for what they produce, and as a way of standing tall among the competition did not only want to be known for what they have produced, butalso wanted to safeguard and own the right to it.

Today, many organisations have built remarkable brands which resonate with their clients; and as a way of safeguarding the trust that the market has in them, businesses protect these brands by trademarking their name.

The subject of branding and reputation, as you hear of from many individuals and start-ups today, can trace its origin  to thousands of years ago. There is evidence which locates the inception of brands to about 4,000 years ago, while others even go as far as 6,000 years.

In order to understand the practice as it has become commonly used in today’s business environment, an appreciation of the evolution of the name and concept can guide any business to appropriate your activities, both online and in-person with your clients.

You begin to think not only in terms of logos and business cards, but become concerned about achieving an emotional affinity with your clients – both on social media and other digital platforms as well as those who frequent your offices. Your tools should serve a larger effect and not be centred around one part.

During the Renaissance period, artists like Michelangelo started signing their names on their work as a way of being identified. Hitherto, artists adopted symbols to communicate, but gradually migrated to using their signatures. Whether by symbols or signatures, people could begin to tell who a painting came from.

From the ancient North Germanic language, Old Norse, we identify the word ‘brandr’ which translates ‘to burn’. It is from this language that we have the Scandinavian. The application of the word was observed in the labelling of livestock with a hot iron.

Many countries and business people had their own ways of creating identification for what they produce as a way to communicate a message to their patrons. China and Greece, together with a few other countries, engraved their ceramics to assure consumers of the quality of materials used and the source of those materials. By this act, the market shifted toward such products and began to prefer items they could relate with. This pushed winemakers, then, to start labelling even their wine barrels!

Thus, customers were not just buying products; they were paying for items which they trusted. And this confidence was rooted in an assurance of who was making those products, where they were coming from and, ultimately, their quality.Your focus element should not be about the profit you may be raking in only, but the value that can be measured, building trust with your clients and also them knowing what to expect from you.

Young businesses need to appreciate that beyond good graphics, colourful digital presence and flashy letterheads, there are intrinsic considerations from which buyers make their decisions; whether you are communicating to them from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or face to face.

What are some of these possible considerations which impact brands and dictate the reputation that companies build?

  1. When did you come?

French luxury brand Louis Vuitton has gained the hearts of many patrons across the globe. You may ask yourself why people invest a lot to purchase such luxurious brands. An interesting observation is that the company did not start today. They have been around since 1854. This longstanding presence and continuous innovation has built trust in them over the years. When people spend on their handbags, backpacks or shoes, for instance, they believe they are buying a product which has stood the test of time. It takes grit, consistency and innovation to build such a brand and gain the faith of the market.

Whether a personal or entity brand, it does not change. Not to sound clichéd, but indeed Rome was not built in a day. Those brands who are highly noticeable in recent times started from somewhere. They did not have it in a one-way direction. Explore wide and be patient.

With this knowledge, you don’t put pressure on your start-up by wanting to be like LV in just a few years- it’s taken them over 160 years. You cannot price your products like they do and say because Louis Vuitton does it, you can too. That is certainly an ill-informed and misguided ambition that leads to frustration. Learn from such a brand; keep working on your products and services, appreciate processand take time to build.

Citi FM under the wings of Samuel Mensah [and Bernardino Aloski’ Koku Avle] has been giving its listeners good content over the period, and only branched to TV productions a little over two years ago. They have never been in a hurry to do that; they were busier making their patrons fall in love with what they churn out on radio [and engaging them predominantly on Facebook and Twitter], so that it was almost seamless to get approval ratings skyrocketing as soon as Citi TV was out-doored. That is some good leverage!

Do not always hope for faster results; consistency and discipline are the keys right here. Learn to always add to your knowledge. Learning will always continue because we do not know all tricks. Thankfully, social media has analytical tools to help you track progress so you know where to improve and boost up.

  1. What is your message?

The September 1999 issue of Harper’s Bazaar captured singer Lenny Kravitz describing his bedroom as ‘very Gucci’. Now, terms like ‘I feel Gucci’ are also very prominent because the brand seems to depict luxury, which many want to associate with.

You need to realise that people buy into your product and not necessarily the product itself. Consumers want to tap into the heritage and story of your brand.

What does your brand represent? Coca-Cola associates itself with fun, so during football matches you see Coke as a proud sponsor with their adverts portraying excitement.

Roverman Productions has carved a niche for themselves in the creative arts industry by identifying the craving of its followership (particularly Ghanaians) for organic and satirical stage plays – and even in this season of restrictions on public gatherings owing to COVID-19, viewership on their various social media channels have soared exponentially.

As a young business, it is prudent to tell the story of your company to depict exactly how you want consumers to associate withy our brand. Gucci would not sell low just to be everywhere; they want to be associated with aristocracy, and they maintain that.

Why would people buy a Ferari? Or why would others host their special occasions at a plush hotel? People want to connect with a certain identity that brands have built; so if your business can represent itself well, it will connect with its target market effectively.

  1. Who have you served?

A track record accumulates the milestones in achievements of a person or organisation. There are musicians who have performed for high-profile dignitaries; poets and playwrights who have had their events patronised by presidents and other ‘high-calibre’ persons.

Nana Asaase has made appearances on BBC and CNN for his unique poetry, dominantly rendered in English and Akan. Chief Moomen has had performances with Ghanaian presidents in attendance. The evergreen Amakye Dede is ever-present at events for the high and mighty in society. Charles Kwadwo Fosu (Daddy Lumba) continues to enjoy significant royalties for the role of his music in political exploits.

Such features endorse the credibility of brands and further build the trust that people have in them. Very importantly, you need to admire the story of their journey; chefs don’t just get up and start cooking for queens and prime ministers. Your days of serving your brand to your immediate community are necessary to build your traction to serve a wider audience.

>>>The writer is a corporate trainer and professional ghost-writer assisting busy executives to write and publish their books, articles, and speeches. He has served as Head of Protocol at a diplomatic mission, Corporate Affairs Officer at a French multinational agribusiness and as Events and Media Correspondent for a digital ad agency. You can contact the author via: [email protected]  or [email protected]

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