BY VICTOR ADAR
The fifth bi-annual tribute awards ceremony by Superbrands East Africa that was held in November at a Nairobi hotel has seen 50 of the region’s top brands make it to the 2017/2018 listing of top brands not only from Kenya but also Uganda and Tanzania.
It just happens that well known brands like Britam, Chandaria Industries, Dairyland, Darling, Equity Bank, Fresha, The Kenya Red Cross Society, RMA, Safaricom, Supa Loaf, Sportpesa, and Royal Mabati, just to mention a few, were recognised and awarded in a listing that covers 12 industries across the three East African countries.
Superbrand status, which strengthens a brand’s position while adding prestige, and setting the brand apart from its competitors, recognises various industries ranging from manufacturing to financial services and banking, NGO and real-estate, healthcare, transport, retail, and betting to name a few.
Jawad Jaffar, who is Superbrands East Africa’s project manager, pointed out some of the milestones and opportunities that the Superbrand has generated saying that it has grown to be “the power and reach of East Africa’s most relevant brands.”
Commenting on the awards, Mr Jaffar said; “In today’s world, we are driven by instant communication, accessibility and abundant choice. The impact that this has on brands is phenomenal. For those that embrace this rapidly evolving landscape, new markets and exponential growth prospects are a plenty.”
Superbrands also unveiled their Volume V edition of the Superbrands book – The book features all awardees ranging from fast moving consumer goods brands to corporate giants. Several key international brands are also featured alongside the region’s strongest homegrown ones.
As more companies seek to be recognised, Jaffar is upbeat that they are making a big impact, and likening it to a new, smart way of embracing “this rapidly evolving landscape”. Driving the strong brand conversation, he points out that many companies are already doing all they can do to help build their brands. He encourages the region’s top players to focus mainly on reliability, quality and distinctiveness of their brands if they are to be valued by consumers. But will the brand factor work in a market that’s full of competition?
With the Banking (Amendment) Act, 2015, the Monetary Committee Policy, while in a meeting in May 2018, said that maintaining the Central Bank Rate, which stands at 9.5% at the moment, the interest rate environment is expected to “remain relatively stable”. The positive impact can be seen if the number of the latest 50 East African countries awarded is anything to go by. If business environment was that tough, it could have been quite difficult for such a big number of companies to come forward. It also shows that the thought of being among the top is always there regardless of tough economy.
World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Report, which saw Kenya improve by 19 positions to number 61 from number 80, is giving companies and investors, sort of, a green light, and that the country is doing quite well. As things are now, business environment in Kenya is not raising too much hullabaloo – apart from murmurs from some quarter of companies grounding because of financial crisis – thanks to improvements in protection of minority investors, getting credit, increased output in the real estate sector, manufacturing, as well as booming wholesale and retail segment. A positive position like this is a relief to the business community.
Although analysis by sector as per the World Bank report showed that there was accelerated growth mainly in the manufacturing sector, there was a major concern on the declining contribution of the sector to GDP growth, which recorded a low of 9.6% from 9.9% in the second quarter of 2017 according to a market report by Cytonn Asset Managers. The report said: “This is despite the Kenyan Government singling it (referring to the manufacturing sector) out as one of the key pillars to drive the economy in the big four agenda.”
Some sectors do not perform well, so it seems. But if some thought is put in, like listing of top 50, top 100, or even top 1000 strong companies, things will change for the better as it will pump some morale. Firms will be working hard to be listed, and like they say the more the merrier.
Awards and recognitions are seemingly fit for economy. With guests of honour including the former and ninth Vice President of Kenya, Moody Awori who is also a renowned entrepreneur, and Vimal Shah – CEO, Bidco Africa, who was also a recipient of the awards, it is an indication that such awards hold key to strong brands.
“I am glad to say that the 50 brands that we pay tribute to are embracing change. You are at the very frontier of your industries, striving to push these new boundaries and innovate. You span more than twelve industries and touch over a hundred million lives. Not only do your brands impact consumers through meaningful products and services but also your commitment to sustainability is profound,” said the Superbrands East Africa’s project manager.