In the 90s to early 2000, Buruburu, an estate in Nairobi was the rave. The young families that had bought houses in this suburb in the late 70s and early 80s were now mature. Indeed the girls were ripe. Suddenly all eyes of the Nairobi man was fixed on Buruburu. Buruburu had a unique brand offering.



A wise entrepreneur saw the opportunity. For want of a better space, he started a restaurant in a tent behind some shops. That was the famous Tents Restaurant. It played great music and was an instant hit. The Buruburu girls were on hand to grace the venue and boy, they were tempting! The Buruburu brand offering had matured and nestled itself cozily in the Nairobi man’s mind.

Kenyans, the notorious copycats were not to be left behind. A savvy and well-heeled businessman soon came up with a better outfit, a great improvement to tap this market. This new outfit had better ambience, seats, and tables and was inside a structure, unlike Tents. Unfortunately, this entrepreneur was left entertaining dismal groups as Tents milled with humanity. What a branding paradox!

What exactly is your brand offering? Do you know why your product or service is in great demand? What was the pull factor to Tents that failed to apply to the new entrant? Why is Nyama Choma at Njunguna’s sweeter than those at 5 star hotels. Would it be the same if Njunguna’s upgraded its ambience and service? This is our take on the unique brand offerings.


1-It’s never about the bare product

Unless you are a monopoly, it is never about the product or service. The avalanche of brand options ensures that customers are free to exercise their prerogative to choose. It’s even more difficult to maintain a price advantage in a competitive market. Marketers must look beyond the augmented product to build a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). KAPA Oil Refineries beat the competition from the then Unilever’s Kimbo and Cowboy in the edible oil industry due to their plastic packaging that was conveniently being used as a handy container afterwards. It wasn’t about what was inside the container. The purchase driver and the unique brand offering was the container not the product. Similarly, Tents had an open space for the girls to parade which its new competitor didn’t have.


2-Build characterimage02

Every business must identify and build a distinctive character by choosing one major brand attribute and rallying all their marketing campaigns around it. Carnivore stands out right from the décor, furnishings and food to support the African wild experience. They will never adorn the Chinese seats and tiles. Black Diamond is not only Black, it maintains those stout wooden planks for seats. What is the character of your brand? Who are you?


3-Deliberately craft the USP

You must craft a unique selling proposition (USP). Deliberately. Failure to which your business may acquire undesirable default USP. For instance, you may find customers patronizing your establishment for reasons you didn’t intend and actually do not want to be identified with. A bar may be seen as an easy place to pick up call girls. A few gay people may identify your restaurant as their convenient meeting place. With time, the place may acquire a tag of being a gay club. Nature abhors a vacuum.


4-Run with it.

Tents identified and ran with its USP. Loud Lingala music in an open place where patrons could enjoy their drink as they sample the girls parading in the open. Once you identify your brand offering or USP in our fast paced acronym endowed lingua, grow it into a success factor. For example, Uchumi Supermarket is banking on Kenyan nationalism, Nakumatt on variety, while Naivas and Tuskys are banking on price. That is their core brand offering. In the banking industry, Chase bank has taken off with relationship banking. Blow up and build your unique brand offering. It’s your insurance against copycats


5-Emotional connection.image01

Most purchase decisions are executed at the emotional rather than the logical level. Price is definitely a factor at the logical level but emotionally is a non-factor. If people only buy from you due to your low price, you are dangerously exposed. As soon as a cheaper option appears, you are history. You must identify emotional factors that drive your client purchase decisions and build on that. Tents must have had an emotional connection with its patrons.


6-Create a culture.

Over time, as business operates, a brand culture develops. This culture is critical in attracting and retaining customers. Tents probably was the first bar to hire a DJ. Their Rhumba line-up was infectious. Brand loyalty is developed along with the culture. That’s why clients will not accept a cheaper Mercedes or Apple product. They have come to accept that these brands are engineered uniquely to provide superior customer experience and are acceptably expensive. If they retained their superior quality but decided to sell cheap, they will lose the customer’s trust.

Marketers must know why customers are buying from them. Their unique brand offering or USP!

Article from African Market Media.

For more on branding and other topical business issues, you can reach us at:

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