Brand Building, an Integral Part of Competitiveness & Sustainability for SMEs – Interswitch CMO Advises MWorld INTERVIEWS On Saturday, 8th October, at the 2016 Purpose Summit themed, Nigeria Beyond Oil (2), which held at the Oakwood Park Hotel, Lekki, Lagos, Chief Marketing Officer, Interswitch Group, Mrs Cherry Eromosele, engaged SMEs, sharing her wealth of experience in brand building and marketing. Highlighting the importance of branding in a competitive environment, She stated that, “for economic growth and development through empowerment of SMEs, becoming more competitive remains a non-negotiable course of action, and brand building plays an integral role in ensuring the competitiveness and sustainability of SMEs, with a view to effectively harnessing the potential inherent in the Nigerian economy.” Identifying SMEs as businesses with turnover of less than N100 MM per annum and/ or less than 300 employees, Cherry drew attention to studies by the IFC/World Bank which reveal that approximately 96% of Nigerian businesses are SMEs compared to 53% in the US and 65% in Europe.; SMEs represent about 90% of the manufacturing/ industrial sector in terms of number of enterprises. They contribute approximately 1% of GDP compared to 40% in Asian countries and 50% in the US or Europe. Cherry pointed out that, “The concept of a brand has evolved beyond identity; it affects the totality of the personality and perception of a product, person, company or service. Your brand can be explained as the totality of all characteristics and assets of your product, or service that helps customers differentiate your business from your competitors”. She went further to explain, “Branding is therefore the process of creating distinctive and durable perceptions in the minds of consumers. In defining a ‘brand’, it is pertinent to understand what the mission of the company is, the benefit(s) of the product/services, customers’ opinion and distinctive qualities of the company. For a brand to be genuine, there has to be a connection between Brand Essence (Brand fundamental nature and quality), Brand Strategy (the conceptual framework) and Brand Positioning (distinctive position/niche) within the competitive environment.” She touched on the essence of research into consumer needs, stating that it is imperative for SMEs to learn the needs, habits and desires of current and prospective customers, and not assume that these are known. She also advocated 3 key ingredients for successful brand-building include consistency, persistence, and restraint where necessary, noting that it takes time and painstaking effort to convince consumers to believe in one’s brand and offering. Present at the event were Hon. Okey Enelamah Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment; Mr. Tunde Lemo (OFR) Former Deputy Governor CBN; Dr. Cosmos Maduka, Chairman Coscharis; Mr. Hope Yongo, Technical Adviser, Nigeria Export-Import Bank; Seth Ahkilele, Convener amongst others. Cherry Eromosele has contributed significantly to the changing face of marketing in Nigeria and across Africa in diverse industry sectors such as FMCG, telecoms, HealthCare and Payments/Technology. She leads a focused, motivated and very dynamic team with proven success in traditional and innovative campaigns across the broad spectrum of today’s marketing channels. On the personal front, Cherry is highly passionate about mentoring and finding ways to give back through charitable causes. Currently she is the CMO of Interswitch Group.