Panellists at the Strategic Communications Africa’s (Stratcomm Africa) Brand Reputation Week discussion have urged Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to build a strong brand reputation for business growth and success.
According to them, it takes a strong brand reputation to assure sustainable business success, hence, SMEs and businesses in general, must make conscious efforts to attain it to stay competitive in both the local and global market space.
The experts also admonished that they leverage digital tools in positioning their brands.
A senior lecturer at the Department of Communication studies, University of Ghana, Dr. Abena Yeboah-Banin, who was explaining to the SMEs how important brand reputation is to their growth, advised them to project an image that aligns with the reputation they seek and consistently work towards cementing it.
“Brand reputation is informed by both direct and indirect experiences including not only how you deliver on your promise but also even what the CEO does and says in public, how your employees behave and the partners you affiliate with,” she said.
She added that brands must remember that every touch point between themselves and stakeholders is a potential opportunity for reputation-building or damaging, hence, should treat each with care and seriousness.
“Establish and manage your online presence to give you the opportunity for communicating yourself, building visibility, engaging stakeholders as well as monitoring conversations about you.
Also, improve the customer experience at every touch point. Don’t forget your internal consumers – employees, their families and friends. Their stories about you are deemed authentic and carry weight. Ensure those will be good stories.
Create a brand style guide that directs how you communicate every time, everywhere and hire professionals to support you with managing your brand reputation and other communication and marketing concerns,” she highlighted.
Chief Business Strategist of Inspire Africa Consult, Mrs. Mawuena Trebarh, also called for the investment in an effective business plan to guide their operations and stand better chances for financial assistance as many potential investors seek to see proof of business profitability and progress timelines.
“Starting, maintaining and growing a small business requires detailed and extensive preparation. Creating a business plan can help determine the steps necessary to achieve the business goals.
It is a required document for potential financiers and it helps you organize your ideas and set timelines to deliver,” she said.
Acknowledging that a brand of a business cannot be left to sit on the fence and to emerge itself, CEO of Stratcomm Africa, Mrs Esther Cobbah, said SMEs must be intentional about their decisions, actions and inactions in building a reputable brand.
Given the digital era and its enormous opportunities, other panellists hold that businesses must identify their target markets, learn about their preferences send information about their products in that direction.
Stratcomm Africa, through the Business Clinics, has offered one-on-one consultation to the 30 SMEs, offering them the needed strategies, skills and support to grow and develop their business.