Just as nature abhors a vacuum, organizations hate missing an opportunity to leverage their assets. It is an instinct that has led many to consider whether they can get more out of their names – that is to create corporate brands in addition to their product brands.

The question is particularly relevant for companies in the consumer-goods industry, which typically market their wares under a variety of different names such as Kasapreko’s Alomo Bitters, Unilever’s Dove soap or Nestlé’s Maggie mixpi.

Invariably, while not all companies are responding in the same manner, some local branding experts say they detect an increasing willingness on the part of many of their leading corporate clients in Ghana to think of ways of using names to greater effect.

The growing prominence of Kasapreko, Chocho Industries and Neat Foods on packaging testifies to that desire. We currently in Ghana seem to be seeing a bit of a trend in companies looking to build power brands at the corporate level and then leverage those in a way that is visible to consumers.  Power brands are brands with global potential if not global scale.

This trend has developed in recent years as a result of economic necessity. Following recent world economic decline a lot of local companies and some multinationals in Ghana grew less interested in acquiring or developing new brands and remained more inclined to leverage the brand assets they already possess. 

Corporate branding was another manifestation of the trend and the interest in it has endured for both marketing and financial reasons. On the traditional marketing front, companies that embrace corporate brands can use their names as a mark of quality, a strategy that can prove particularly helpful in boosting any weaker brands in any given corporate portfolio. As companies grow more inclined to demonstrate their corporate social responsibility, they could be growing more willing to display their names as a way of getting credit for good works.

Adam Sulley, a leading brand marketing expert in Ghana, says some companies in Ghana have used corporate as a way of differentiating themselves from competitors. By serving clients through a specially created corporate team, a company may be highlighting its ability to provide its customers with a range of marketing services, says Mr. Sulley.

However, some analyst caution that this approach might not suit companies with even broader product or service offerings. I personally believe corporate umbrella branding is a constraint on corporate action. You have to have businesses that are consistent with each other.

Corporate branding can also create financial benefits, some involving tax. For example, a company based in a lower-tax jurisdiction could license its name to its operations in a higher-tax countries in return for royalty payment. The result would be that it could shelter some of its income from in a higher tax country.

There are also elements of intellectual property associated with brands. One of the things you need to take into consideration intellectual property has a value.  Investors are another target of corporate branding campaigns. By putting its corporate name on its products, a company is reminding potential investors of the worthy brands in its portfolio – no small matter at a time when so much corporate compensation is tied to profitability.

In general, marketers have tended to think that product brands benefit from corporate brands, but I sincerely believe the reverse is true – corporate brands benefit from product brands more.  Corporate branding can also be used to motivate staff. One of the issues that companies with different brands have is that they don’t get a sense of same brand philosophy among their people.

Surely, there are dangers to corporate branding. For a start it might just confuse consumers or limit the ability of marketers to use targeted approach to give their brands a more local feel. The other worry is the collateral damage that could result if something goes wrong with a particular product.

Corporate branding, in other words is not for the faint heart.

BY LORD KORAMOA

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