“Nokia employs 101,982 people across 120 countries, conducts sales in more than 150 countries, and reports annual revenues of around €30 billion. By the fourth quarter of 2012, it was the world’s second-largest mobile phone maker in terms of unit sales (after Samsung), with a global market share of 18.0%…”
Nokia thought the party would rock on…
On the 1st of October (same day Nigeria celebrated her independence), I posed several interesting questions in a bid to explore the success and erstwhile failure of the biggest brands you know [indomie, Gtb e.t.c], posited that thinking the ‘logo is the brand, ‘branding is new’ and ‘branding is packaging’ are all myths, and I gave a teaser on Nokia (back on that in a bit).
During the week, I shared on ‘the magic tweet’ that drove Apple’s shares up by 2% [tue], random thoughts on branding [wed & thur] and briefly discussed why #retirement is a myth [fri].
In case you missed all the good stuff, and for more thought provoking, thoroughly branded posts, catch up now at facebook.com/epowerempowers or www.epowergraphics.co.nr. Follow me on twitter @gbengaogun  add my BB pin: 26FE9FAC  and know what’s up on whatsapp: 08037285780
The first step to knowing anything about anything is an unapologetic and terribly strategic inquiry into its origin. Brands are no different.
‘brand’ was coined from the old Germanic word ‘brandr’ meaning to burn.
According to the Bible [Gen 4:15], God placed a mark on Cain so that whoever found him would not kill him (HCSB).
A more interesting tale is how Jacob outsmarted Laban (after Laban thought He had outsmarted him) by employing a breeding technique so innovative and effective that He had lots of spotted and stronger goats, sheep & cattle unlike Laban’s weak, white and spotless flock (Gen 31-39). In short, Jacob’s flock was branded.
Back then (and even till now), Each Cattle rearer burned a unique mark on their own cattle to separate them from others, enabling them to easily locate them, effectively avoiding disputes over ownership. So, cattle rearing was the first occupation to employ branding.
From Genesis to Malachi, God gave the Israelite’s specific foods to eat, wear and what not to. These qualities differentiated them from the Egyptians and others. Remember that on seeing the blood at their door posts, the angel of death passed over their homes while Egyptians lost their firstborn son and firstborn male animal. They were branded.
In the New Testament, the name ‘Christian’ was given to the disciples because they looked like Christ. In other words, they were Christ’s brand ambassadors (same with Christ in deed & look as well as in spreading the good news). Check Acts 11:19-26.
1100 – 500 BC
The oldest known brand, an Indian herbal toothpaste by the name ‘Chyawanprash’ is born
Next, Italians perfected the art of branding paper with water marks
Logo’s and trademarks emerged but were unpopular
James Walter Thompson published the first explicit explanation of trademark advertising (or branding as we know it today)
Early 1900’s
Industrialization caused increased global exportation of goods, and factories had to identify their products by putting their logo (or logo & name called a trademark) on them.
Companies started viewing their brands in an emotional sense. They started building personalities (e.g luxury, wild fun e.t.c) into their products
Consumer packaged goods companies like Procter and Gamble, General Foods and Unilever developed the discipline of brand management, or marketing as we know it today, when they noticed the quality levels of products being offered by competitors around them improve.
Brands like Tide, Kraft and Lipton (tea) excelled in marketing activities setting the benchmarks for all brands today.
James Walter Thompson’s 1900 (eternally inspiring) concepts got fully embraced and eventually helped companies adopt slogans, mascots and jingles in advertising in order to take advantage of the media revolution that was being championed by the invention of radio & TV.
The previous commoditization of product quality was followed by an almost equal push for building real brands as the internet [world wide web, courtesy Tim Berners Lee in 1991] came along: changing the face of business and branding forever.
The following sequence of events on the internet transformed our concept of social connectivity and contributed immensely to current state of branding
first personal blog Justin’s links from the underground], blogger launched later in 1999.
first social network to connect class mates appropriately named ‘classmates’ launched
First search engine, ASK
First messaging app by America online helped millions of cubicle workers talk in real time
First online Wikipedia [Jimmy wales and Larry Sanger Launch] launched, effectively sending Microsoft Encarta into oblivion. Broadband also became available.
New social network frienster launches, hits 1 million users
Another social media giant by name myspace launches: one million users sign up in the first month
Marck Zuckerburg launches thefacebook.com [another social network] from his Harvard dorm room. Google + launched later in 2011
YouTube launches: allows users to freely upload videos with family and friends
Twitter com [another social network] distinguishes itself from Facebook via its 140-character tweets making fast, brief communication and real time trending immensely popular
You would agree with me that the Internet changed how we do business, and it will continue to impact commerce as new business models emerge daily. How was advertising done before facebook and youtube? How did mailing via ‘our own NIPOST’ fare before email rescued us? How was shopping done before amazon.com launched?
Truth is: while it is easy to create an online presence for business, standing out from crowd takes strategic branding. Your business most likely has one chance to catch the attention of prospective consumers, so don’t make noise until you have found your voice. DON’T BLOW IT. GROW IT.
Today there are two categories of endangered brands:
When you think about some Brick & Mortar businesses (those are businesses that are not online) like most old schools and lots of small businesses, and you really think about recent trends in finance such as cashless banking, it does not take a prophet to tell that such businesses face irrelevance and extinction.
Look at how Jumia & Konga revolutionized online shopping in Nigeria through pay-on-delivery. Elsewhere in America, notable (and largely brick & mortar) publisher Barnes & Noble is getting a run for its money by world-famous amazon.com. How else did the career of Psy (through his Viral hit: Gangnam style) take off if not for YouTube?
I’m sorry for brands that are still stuck with TV and radio when youths (and even adults) are spending their time (wisely or unwisely) on social media! The internet /social media is not just a tool to engage/excite/empower customers and fans alike, IT IS THE TOOL OF NOW.
Jumia and Amazon represent very strong shopping brands.
Posterity will judge me If I fail to mention Nike, Adidas and Puma in clothing (by the way, both Adidas and Puma founders are brothers from the same family).
Jumia did not start online shopping the same way Nike did not start clothing. What made the difference? BRANDING. Creating easily identifiable, very distinctive products with massive emotional appeal.
You got me: I just gave my first definition of branding!
Restaurants were just what they were: food joints until Biggs came along.
Banks were just for saving/lending money until GTB came along.
Higher institutions of learning were just schools until O.A.U came along (lol: I know most of you who didn’t get the chance to school at ‘my school’ are going to fry me for this! Ahhhhrrrrggghhhh!)
What’s the point?
Until somebody decides to brand something, it remains a COMMODITY. Until someone decides to brand himself, he is a NONENTITY.
Whoa! The latter was a little harsh!
Other questions posed on the 1st of October will be answered later but its time to take a QUESTION:
On the 1st of October, Dolapo asked why ‘TECNO is in serious contention with NOKIA besides its cheaper cost’
To answer, let me take you back to the beginning of this article:
“Nokia employs 101,982 people across 120 countries, conducts sales in more than 150 countries, and reports annual revenues of around €30 billion. By the fourth quarter of 2012, it was the world’s second-largest mobile phone maker in terms of unit sales (after Samsung), with a global market share of 18.0%…”
That was in 2012
Apparently, the party is over:
“Now, Nokia only has a 3% market share in smartphones. They lost 40% of their revenue in mobile phones in Q2 2013. Nokia is a public limited-liability company listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange. It is the world’s 274th-largest company measured by 2013 revenues according to the Fortune Global 500”
“Nokia was the world’s largest vendor of mobile phones from 1998 to 2012. However, over the past five years its market share declined as a result of the growing use of touchscreen smartphones from other vendors—principally the iPhone, by Apple, and devices running on Android, an operating system created by Google. The corporation’s share price fell from a high of US$40 in late 2007 to under US$2 in mid-2012”
Nokia is the classical example of a brand that consciously (and very foolishly, I might add) lost its brand value.
As far as I am concerned, the contention between Nokia and Tecno is almost concluded and Tecno is winning.
Why? Tecno phones are cheap: agreed.
Tecno Mobile is no doubt the latest top Android Seller in Africa. Tecno Invaded the smart phone Market Late 2012 and captured the Markets with Cheap Android Phones starting with Tecno N3.
Price apart, Tecno phones are beautiful, perform smarter (the new models run android and are mostly touch screens) and their functions are ‘whole’.
Here’s what I mean by ‘whole’: Nokia would usually share features like Bluetooth, Wireless and CAMERA Quality across multiple phones.
So, if I wanted a high resolution camera phone, I had to buy a nokia 6600 while I’d have to buy 5300 to enjoy express music. Nokia held us all to ransom by spreading key features across several phones (which remain relatively on the high side: usually from N22,000 upwards except you want to buy a torch light phone or just a basic internet device) whereas a Tecno phone gives you all the key features + an astonishing 8GB memory card for a fraction of the price (N10,000 upwards). AND THIS IS WHERE I GET REALLY ANGRY WITH NOKIA!
I respect Nokia because it grew out of being into everything from paper and footwear to focus on phones. That’s a big leap. And Nokia helped bring the portable mobile revolution.
That said
Can you believe that Nokia manufactured 494 different phone models between 1992 and 2013!? [Without counting 9 Mobira models and other products)
That’s 494 phones in 21 years!
Which means Nokia released 23.52 phones per year!
And 1.96 [approx. 2] phones per month since 1992!
By contrast:
The world’s most innovative and most profitable company, Apple, started manufacturing IPhone’s in 2007 and has only made 8 models! Let me say that again: EIGHT MODELS! Apple kept releasing breath-taking, category defining and truly innovative IPhone’s every year, one [or most recently] two models at a time.
Now, tell me:
How does a company push out two phones per month AND STILL expect to keep a customer long enough to buy its next phone without confusing the life out of her!
I think Nokia attempted to ‘satisfy’ everybody and ended up satisfying no body!
Today, Nokia’s phone division is owned by Microsoft.
“If you can name all the brands [models] of Nokia phones ever made, I’ll send you a surprise gift! Send your answers to yesboss2080@gmail.com on or before the 4th of October, 2013”.
Out of all the correct entries received, James Nelson and Alasa Ebunoluwa were very close but they failed to start from the Mobira series. The lucky winner is Adedeji Damilare thyme2001@gmail.com. He will receive 1 week free daily brand consulting (starting tomorrow) in addition to one free graphics design (be it a poster/billboard e.t.c). Congrats!
What about me?
Well, you can still win! Here are the questions for this week:
What is the very last word of my least recent post on my graphic blog www.epowergraphics.co.nr
I just started tweeting of late: what is my very first tweet? @gbengaogun
And why do you think GTB has more customers than other banks [in 100 words or less please]
Summarize today’s post in 140 characters!
Send your answers to yesboss2080@gmail.comfor another round of brand goodies!
‘the Nokia effect’ is what happens when big companies fail to brand big time.
And don’t even think branding is for big or small businesses alone: you can brand YOU!
Just as Frank Edoho is a branded Game show presenter and Omojuwa is a branded internet activist, you ought to be branded for your destiny.
This is why I help individuals and companies identify their core strengths, differentiate it from the existing market, narrow the focus, over-promise (FedEx promised overnight delivery to any part of the world when US postal service was still doing weeks and months] and over-deliver [FedEx delivered and still delivers on that promise till date].
I am your go to guy
for your visual brand needs (logo design, business card, letter head, posters, wallpapers, display pictures, Facebook covers, bill boards, flex banners, website e.t.c) and your basic brand needs (finding a niche, defining your brand, putting your brand into words, naming, logo/slogan formation, writing a solid business plan/proposal, promoting your brand, building brand value and defending your brand).
With your help
I can clarify your vision, leverage your passion and together, we can build a formidable, lovable and profitable brand for you, for your business: with strategic action!
Yours truly!
Ogunbowale Olugbenga,
Brand Strategist
twitter: @gbengaogun
bbm: 26FE9FAC
email: yesboss2080@gmail.com[for questions & comments]
I define a brand as the emotional excitement or agitation in a customer’s mind when he encounters you (either by hearing your name or seeing your logo or any other brand trigger) while branding is the ability to convince a potential customer to see your product/offering or yourself as the solution to their problem.
If you want to use this medium to reach out to potential customers (and I strongly recommend this to every business owner reading this), I won’t be the one to stop you. Just contact me and your brand will never remain the same again!
Branding has a lot to do with making and keeping promises and I promised to unravel the mystery of brands last week.
So far, we have learnt about the history of branding, and the consequences of poor branding, using Nokia as a case study. AS TO WHETHER I DELIVERED ON THAT PROMISE OR NOT: BE THE JUDGE.
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Published by Ogunbowale Olugbenga

Ogunbowale Olugbenga is a multiple award winning social entrepreneur & digital skills expert. An alumnus of the Leadership in Business Institute of Kellogg School of Management (USA), He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria). Inspired by the plight of millions of unemployed youths, Olugbenga founded Epower.ng, a digital agency passionately growing businesses & accelerating the application of digital skills for economic prosperity across Africa. To help institutions prevent scandals & promote performance, Gbenga founded Polivoice.Work, an anonymous employee feedback tool that captures & analyses feedback anonymously in real time to detect, predict & improve work place conditions. A Mandela Washington Fellow, Tony Elumelu Fellow, Royal Common wealth society fellow, YALI star of business & YALI network influencer, Olugbenga is the founder of Africa’s biggest orphanage outreach, The Orphan Empowerment Society, with a 5,000 strong volunteer force and a presence in 19 African countries empowering thousands of orphans with free vocational skills, medical care, & food. He is also the co-founder of the communication & leadership organization, Pacesetters Leadership Club.

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