Guest Blog by Clare Kagimu, interior architect and designer and founder of Phoenix Designs
In the past, many of the strongest global brands were afforded a luxury that is in short supply these days: time. The results of the latest Global Brand Survey demonstrate that being seen as part of the local culture is a significant driver of purchase intent for both global and local brands. However, while consumers have usually grown up with the local brand, the global brand is often less familiar because it has not been around as long.
The example below demonstrates that tapping into local culture is an important part of establishing a strong brand, but that it takes good local knowledge and time to do so.
The diversity of African Brands is something that I am loving seeing emerge. Today’s inspirational focus comes from the ZAAF Luxury Brand of handbags and accessories. I opened my email this morning and a floodgate of appreciation hit me like a wave, and this image explains why.
In ZAAF, I saw how a beautiful business idea was integrated with the raw roots of a Nation - and in this instance it was Ethiopia. This image, if you take the time to examine it closely, depicts a Hamar lady (a tribe from the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia), elegantly holding a leather bag embroidered in a decorative way that is very similar to her own tribal jewellery. Images like these are, in one way, the way forward, unveiling the expressive, bold creative that is arising within the context of this colourful Continent.
Images will increasingly need to become the means of showcasing the brands that we, as African entrepreneurs, want to give both a platform to, and the space to make themselves known in the leading markets. The fact is that you can have a great product, but if the imagery and marketing behind that product are not of a high quality, and connect with audiences and buyers, then that can very easily hinder your Brand.
To have a successful brand you must also have a huge WHY, and on a personal level with my own company, I understand this only too well. Our motto within the context of Phoenix Designs is “DETAIL IS NOT AN OPTION”. It is because of this “WHY”, that we are still waiting for the right format to get our own new website up and running. It is the why we invest in getting professional images that capture what we represent as an emerging startup Rebranding Solutions Company.
Being in the CEO position responsible for my own brand, forced me to take a very broad, international stand for our market and our products. Just because I am an African living in the Diaspora didn’t stop me making contact with USA craft manufacturers, Scottish businessmen and affluent African creatives and bloggers - why? Because I finally felt I had a template, an image that could pull together the network I needed. I felt confident to approach them and show them what and who I stood for as an entrepreneur. As I write now, we harnessed the use of clever imagery to help us land a Global European Distribution Contract set to kick off in 2016.
As the well known phrase goes, “A picture says a thousand words”. In this case, a picture can mean thousands of pounds - you decide.
So, my advice is do what you need to enhance your Brand, and remember that images are key! Also, acknowledge that technology is supporting the growing trend and interest in African products and design, and we must update our marketing and brand efforts in order to get our products onto all social media platforms. We need the power of as many outlets as possible for our Brand names to be seen in the marketplace, and we need to double our efforts to leverage our Brands in order to reach more clients. The botton line is that we need to build smart global networks, we need to leverage the unique qualities that differentiate our brands, and we need to utilise the power of high quality imagery that will set our brands apart in the glboal marketplace.
I feel that in light of all this great growth potential, we still have a much unlimited sky to reach. See you all at the top!
Clare Kagimu is an interior architect and designer, originally from Uganda but now living and working in Glasgow in the UK. Her company Phoenix Designs is a branding solutions company, and her portfolio of creative work has included such unique projects as the designing of some of the eye-catching and highly specialised Velodrome suits worn at the prestigious Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow, UK. Clare comes from a creative background, her late father Paul Archie Kagimu was one of the pioneering architects of Uganda. Learn more about Clare - read her Startup Story here.
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