Growing African brands: The nectar element

Bee Honey Making File Photo

Wed, 25 Jul 2018 Source: Kojo Botsio

As a young boy I loved picking flowers from my best friend’s parent’s hedge, often, his mum would warn me about the bees on the flowers but I couldn’t be bothered. A few times, I have had to run for my little life as the bees had turned in my direction when I intended picking flowers they perched on.

I always wondered why I had to contend with bees for what I (a human being) loved until my science teacher taught me about the whole pollination process and the fact that the bees (and other insects) settled on the flowers for the nectar. I became even more curious to know what in the nectar draws them to my favourite flower and not the other “smelly” ones I didn’t like.

In my reflections about how people respond very well to some brands and not so well to others, the story about me and the bees come to mind as a perfect example of the relationship that exists between businesses and their clients or prospective clients; it was an interesting revelation that both humans and bees behave very similarly in terms of what attracts them and what puts them off.

Bees, unlike humans are endowed with magnificent eyes made of thousands of pixels that allow them to see in ultraviolet mode; they see the flowers even more beautiful than what humans see. However, it isn’t the beauty they see that keeps them coming to one particular flower, it is the sweet-tasting nectar that keeps them coming.

As bees are attracted to beautiful flowers, so are humans attracted to beautiful, coherent and well organised brands; in a clear sense, humans are drawn to things that are aesthetically appealing. In the brand building process, the essence of the brand identity (logo, colours, design manual etc.) and all its accompanying attributes cannot be underestimated, but, like the bees, that is not what gets the clients stuck to you and coming back always, it is the taste/sweetness of your nectar.

Let us now take our time to discuss the crux of this piece; what is your nectar as a brand? As the nectar of a flower is hidden in the petal, pistils, ovaries, etc. (depending on the flower type), so is the “nectar” of your brand; they are hidden in your delivery chain and experiences customers get when they have decided to patronise you. The nectar is determined by the quality of service you render to your customers and the quality of your product/service itself; whether they stay, never return or choose to come when they don’t have an option depends on the “sweetness” of the nectar you serve them.

The blood of your business is not money, it is your customers; your customers are like bees; you may do all the advertising, PR, branding etc. to attract them, but if your service is terrible, which is inconsistent with what they have seen or heard, like bees, they will leave to find options elsewhere to satisfy themselves. Your business is not to satisfy you, it is to satisfy the people for which you established the business.

In this whole process, harmony between what people see and what they experience is extremely key to building your brand; if your brand identity design (logo, stationary, colours etc.) sucks but your product and service delivery is incredibly great, you struggle building your brand because beauty is the first attraction, don’t forget! In the reverse, if your brand identity design is on point, yet your service quality is poor you still miss the mark. Creating harmony between your brand identity, product quality and service delivery quality is the magic wand to unleashing your growth potentials as a brand.

Having acquainted yourself with the relationship between the beauty of the flower, the sweetness of the nectar and the benefits thereof. Let us have a look at another element in the theory; Growth. When the bees have been attracted by the bright colours of the flower and tasted the sweetness of the nectar, something phenomenal happens; they spread the plant specie abroad, this is one of the means many flower plant species expand and continue to exist.

The above is nothing different from what happens in the human context; when clients have been drawn to your brand by the compelling nature of your brand identity design and experienced a high level of service and product quality which all culminate into forming a perfect brand harmony (your nectar), they don’t shut up, they make noise about you and get you all the attention, this becomes a significant to booster to your advertising and publicity efforts.

According to the business research organisation Edelman, “globally, nearly seven out of ten respondents among the general population worry about fake news or false information being used as a weapon, and 59% say that it is getting harder to tell if a piece of news was produced by a respected organisation”. The implication of this, as I will share soon, is that traditional advertising and marketing is fast losing its potency because, consistently, people have not found the harmony between what they are told and what they experience. Consequently, trust in technical experts, academic experts and a-person-like-yourself (ordinary customers) has risen to number one to three respectively.

The above does not come as a surprise to me as my own simple survey conducted on a sample size of over 300 which basically asked the question “if any of the above told you about a brand you have not patronised its service/product before, which are you most likely to believe and try?” confirmed that between the three variables: Celebrity endorsement, Expert advice and Recommendation by People-you-know (friends and family), respondents trusted Recommendation from people they know than the other two variables.

This data gives hope to African brands (especially start-ups) who may not have millions to spend on huge advertising campaigns; it tells that if start-ups put in a little more effort to achieve harmony between what their target group sees (brand/visual identity design – logo, colours, packaging, branding materials/souvenirs) and what they experience (the customer care/service quality and the quality of the product or service you offer), the testimony of these people (who are the third most trusted source of accurate information) to their own networks no matter how small will eventually yield far reaching benefits to the advantage of building your brand.

Columnist: Kojo Botsio