Branding in Zimbabwe is generally misunderstood by many major corporations. Hence that aspect of their business is not taken seriously. We often hear that such and such an organisation is rebranding but nothing could be further from the truth. Most of the time this exercise is half baked.
There are big corporations doing well in Zimbabwe, but that’s not to say these are well branded companies or that they do well because of brand loyalty. With the current economic situation branding does not matter at all. Corporations are more interested in riding the storm and will deal with having a good brand when the situation gets better. They also know that the customers generally don’t have much of a choice.
The rebrand is a buzz word when ever there is a new leadership at a corporation a new CEO, Chairman always feels he has to change the brand with his new vision for the corporation. Unfortunately their rebranding only consists of changing the logo identity. With no communications audits of the current brand, its mostly based on his preference that we need to rebrand which translates to ‘We need a new logo which I like”.
There is no research carried out. Decision makers don’t consult professionals. But rather they impose their preferences with the proverbial ‘I am paying for this so what I say goes’ attitude. These same brands are out of touch with their needs of their customers. Its a take it of leave it situation. The rebranding exercise is mostly for the ego of the new boss. It has nothing to do with connecting with the customer. To instill loyalty and go on further to defend the brand and recommend it to others.
With the advent of social media, brands are falling over themselves to open accounts on various channels, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, but with no strategy of how this will be excited, no content creation strategy either. These channels are once again not a vehicle to connect but to impose on the customers.
No engagement just one way dumping of information. There is accountability for customers with these social media channels. They can call out corporations online in full view of the public.
Internal Brand loyalty
Zimbabwe’s brand culture is evident when you walk into any corporation where there is man to man contact. Employees are mistreated so they can be sent to as many retreats as possible but it will not achieve the desired results.
The employees don’t have any brand loyalty hence they see no need to treat customers well, neither are they concerned about how their conduct affects the brand. There is no accountability either you call the manager and there is no repercussion for bad service.
Brand Zimbabwe as a country is a personification of all the other brands that exist within it. Our brand has suffered and at each turn we do not do ourselves any favours. Our conduct inside and outside our borders. Zimbabweans are not proud to be associated with the country and foreigners look down on Zimbabweans and pity them. In short, brand Zimbabwe needs ’rebranding’.
So what is the state of branding in Zimbabwe? It goes beyond a changing of logos, or vehicle livery. If it does not lead to a positive change in experience for the customers then its just money down the drown. No real research and investigation is done before these exercises are carried out.
When they do flop no-one is accountable because there is no real measure of how it went wrong or where it went wrong. So it will be a while before we see brands which really speak to people on an emotional level that they become evangelists for the corporation.