Branding Africa for Africans

by Thando Matutu 0

According to the World Bank, Nigeria, which has recently overtaken South Africa as the continent’s biggest economy, has a 2014 GDP growth forecast of 6.7 per cent.

South Africa, on the other hand, was given a forecast of 2.7 per cent, indicating that Nigeria is a thriving market to watch out for.

“The world has a very poor perception of Nigeria and Nigerians. The first step would be to tell the real story,” Gary Harwood, director at HKLM, told CNBC Africa.

HKLM is a strategic brand and communication design consultancy specialising in emerging markets.

(READ MORE: Nigeria surpasses S.Africa as continent’s Biggest Economy)

“Nigeria is open for business and the real story for South Africa is that Nigeria is hungry for the expertise that we as South Africans have,” Harwood explained.

He added that in the previous 10 years Nigeria sought American and European expertise on establishing business in the West African country.

However that trend has changed as majority of people lending their expertise to Nigerian businesses are South Africans.

This shift in expertise choice, according to Howard, is a result of homogeneousness that Nigerians feel they share with South Africa.

“[South Africans] are fellow Africans, you understand [Nigerians] a lot better than someone from the West,” added Howard.

He described Nigerians as perceiving that South Africans share their vision of building business brands in a multi-cultured society.  This is especially as Africa offers 53 diverse markets, and linking business ideals with African local expertise could be key to business success in Africa.

(WATCH VIDEO:Nigeria economy has become the largest in Africa)

Some companies have however failed to establish successful businesses in Nigeria because of what Harwood explained was a lack of harmonious consulting with Nigerian local markets.

Foreign companies looking to enter the African market should therefore localise their product to fit the continent’s business environment.

“Vodacom tried entering the [Nigerian] market, and I think they’re still kicking themselves [as] MTN took the high ground there,” he said.