The leader shall be the servant of all. That is where we left off. Market leaders in the corporate world have one thing in common; they pay attention to their customers. They understand that the reason they are in business, and making super normal profits; is because of that one person in that remote location, who always uses their product/ service. Love and Brand sounds like an odd couple, who isn’t? How many times have you asked yourself how those two people you know ended up together? Yes. iWrote a similar article six years ago, aaahhh nostalgia. this piece is more relevant today, now more than ever. iWas a fresh-faced soon-to-be graduate on internship; excited about the world of employment, naïve and ambitious. A hopeless romantic, full of youthful exuberance. Good times. Back to topic!

The greatest commandment of all is love. You can have everything in this world, but if you have no love, you have nothing. Any functional business is formed on the basis of a ‘Why’; that innate desire to fulfill a gap, a need, to the best of its ability. Competition is a non-entity to the truly successful brands. They swim in their own oceans, leaving the piranha to feast on the morsels in the pool. The big fish in a small pond analogy is apt for the majority of businesses in Kenya. In a ‘me too’ culture, predatory instincts take over strategic thought. Niche positioning is forgotten as SME’s, and even corporates, go after each other’s jugular. iHave digressed, we were meant to be in the lovey dovey state. Apologies. Where was i? oh, Love, and Brand.

It is said working backwards gives a clearer picture of where one is headed. Covey called it beginning with the end in mind (Habit 2). The overriding purpose in today’s business world should be to satisfy the customer needs, exceedingly, abundantly, beyond their wildest expectations. Top of mind, how many global brands do this? African? Regional? Closer home…Kenyan? Even closer…County? The county of Machakos emerges heads and shoulders above the 46 others 9a story for another day, (County, and Country Branding). A public park has been opened today, the 14th; when the romantic at heart are looking to connect with loved ones. Call it corny to take your date to Uhuru, Central, City, or Luna Parks; but we all know that love is indeed corny. It has no mind of its own, always putting the brain in hot soup. Love is blind. Consumers are blind to your marketing gimmicks, if you do not appeal to their base desires, instincts; felt and unfelt needs. It is your prerogative as a business owner/ worker to know your clients better than they know themselves.

Blue Ocean Strategy dictates that you go where no other business has gone, the proverbial uncontested market space. Apple did it as the world watched. From a computer hardware business, Steve Jobs et al dove into the music business, and telecommunication business. iTunes, iPods, iPhones, iPads…name it. The core of all these revolutionary initiatives was attention to detail, providing a quality product to the discerning customer; who did not even know that they needed these products before they heard of them! Safaricom and M-pesa have gone where no financial institution even dared to dream. They are not stopping; M-shwari is recording over six million customers and Kshs. 64 billion in deposits, in a calendar year! It is the 2nd largest lender, and it is a virtual bank! How?

Their core competence (in my opinion) of the above, is the ability to delve into their customers’ lives, and extract the unknown. Superior products and services, exceptional consumer insight and experience; have driven Apple to the apex as one of the world’s most valuable brands. Safaricom has mined Kenyans’ ‘peculiar habits’, made a fortune with it, and become a global case study; despite having higher call rates than its competitors. Once consumer love becomes the engine that drives business, then superior return on investment is the natural response, not reaction to market forces as many do. Consumers are more inclined to follow their hearts, than mere logic. The heart may not be so smart, but it knows what it wants, and gets it regardless! Appeal to the emotions, fulfill them, and get their feedback on how to do it better next time. You are assured of a lifetime consumer if you do. Are your customers in love with you? Do you even love them? It takes two to tango. Love, and Brand…not Love and Basketball…makes the world go round…

Are you like the guy below, leaving your queen to get all dirty on her big day? Crown Your Customer, as Sunny Bindra puts it, and they will fall for you, every time…


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