To position (or reposition) a company’s brand in line with its target market, this is how branding can be summed up, a marketing technique which relies on two main elements to develop a brand: the identity (the logo and visual image in particular) and reputation (the values that the brand embodies).

By Joe Ayoub

Independent agency  Brandcell was launched in 2008 to fill this role in Lebanon. The agency has already advised a dozen of clients on their brand strategy. For Joe Ayoub, CEO  of Brandcell, the discrepancy between the brand promise and the consumer  experience is one of the reasons that can explain the success or failure of a  product. "Lebanese businesses still need to be clear about the values that they  convey to their employees as they do their clients." For branding rests as much  on the internal organization of a business – the motivation of employees to champion  the company for which they work – as it does on the coherence of the message that  it sends out to consumers. Joe Ayoub explains: "Imagine you launch a product.  If your employees are not happy in the company, if they think, for example, their  salary level doesn't match their skills or they have never been consulted in  the decisions of the company, what interest would they have in championing this  product to your future clients? 

Brandcell has developed the branding strategy of Mobision, part of the  Communication Entertainment Technologies (CET) Group. Mobision introduced a  system of digital broadcasting, via satellite, for reception on mobile phones,  in Iraq. In the first place, Brandcell helped the business to define its  message. In this case, a service that helps Iraqis to survive since mobile  phones are often the only way for them to stay connected to the world. The  agency also developed the sales manual for the call centre team, around 20  employees, based in Lebanon and composed of Iraqis and Lebanese. "We explained  to them the image of the business and what is at stake so they could integrate  it and champion it." In addition Brandcell conducts regular audits to adjust  the brand image of a business in line with client expectations and market  realities. Branding is not limited to a line of products. It is also useful  when a company undergoes major events such as a merger or a relocation… "You  have to involve the employees: ask their opinion and inform them. One bad  experience and they can become apathetic. In the end they are the first  ambassadors of the brand."

This marketing technique plays an important role when a crisis has to be  managed. "Take EgyptAir and Air France, two airlines which have had air disasters.  The brand image of EgyptAir has never fully recovered from the explosion of its  aircraft off Sharm el Sheikh. That of Air France has emerged relatively unscathed  from the explosion of the AF447 off Brazil: its stock of trust, the values that  underpin its name, contribute to help it to overcome the crisis."

To take a more active role in the education of Lebanese businesses,  Brandcell has chosen to help Lebanese start-ups to put together their brand  identity. "The key remains to adapt oneself to clients." Among Brandcell's  clients: Magrabi Retail, a regional group specialized in wholesale and retail  of sunglasses and spectacles, and the Etisalat telecommunications company in  Sudan.

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