Muscat, 7 September 2020
Bank Muscat recently organised an online discussion to highlight the ‘Importance of Branding’, under the auspices of the Retail Enterprises (Najahi) unit of the bank. In line with its commitment to strengthening support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), Najahi Talks is an important part of Bank Muscat’s strategy to support the growth of SMEs to benefit the national economy. The online session, which was telecast through the bank’s social media channels was moderated by Abdullah Al Jufaili, Head, Retail Enterprises Unit (Najahi), Bank Muscat, and hosted brand strategist and Omani entrepreneur Issra Ahmed.
Issra, who has worked previously as a marketing specialist before establishing her own branding agency Mint Marketing, discussed at length the concept and importance of branding. Branding is a marketing practice in which an entity, especially a company, creates a name, symbol or design that is easily identifiable as belonging to it. This helps others to identify its products and services and distinguish it from other similar products and services. She pointed out the importance of excellence in branding as an important factor in the success of an enterprise. For example, if a customer plans to go to a restaurant on a particular street, he is likely to go to one that has an excellent branding reflecting the quality of the food served, apart from other factors such as location and the service provided.
Israa also spoke about the importance of using social media sites for marketing one’s business, and the need to choose an appropriate platform to promote the business as well as know about customer requirements and trends. Social media platforms provide an opportunity for business owners to promote their work for free, thereby reducing marketing costs. Building a visual identity needs time and sustainability in order to take root in people's minds. Even if a business owner is forced to change the brand, the basic principle must be persistent and not deviate from the main goals. Issra emphasized that building a visual identity begins with choosing the name, color and tag line, and using the right marketing methods.
She also shared a few example of local, regional and international businesses which have succeeded in creating a great brand identity. These include the Omani brand Amouage, which innovated in building its brand identity, right from choosing the name to its slogan to the way Amouage products are packaged and displayed. Their branding adds a great deal of sophistication and helps greatly in marketing the product both in the Sultanate and globally. Speaking about regional successes, Israa explained how the Bateel Dates became such a well-known entity. Despite a crowded local and regional market, Bateel has distinguished itself through its brand identity and by presenting the product in an innovative way that stands apart from competition.
On the global stage, Issra pointed out the example of Apple. She also spoked about how countries can benefit from having a solid brand. Kazakhstan, for example, has worked to creatively use the suffix '-stan' to improve its branding and has today changed people’s perceptions to become a tourism success. During the discussions that followed, Issra answered questions and queries from the attendees and urged them to make sure that their brands stood out from their competitors. Israa called on business owners to pay particular attention to the role of branding in determining business success in the local and international markets.
Bank Muscat’s Najahi strategy is an important part of helping SMEs grow and strengthen the Sultanate’s economy. Importantly, Bank Muscat offers non-financial support to SME entrepreneurs through knowledge-sharing sessions such as Najahi Talks and Maharat Min Google. Those who are interested in participating in upcoming Najahi sessions will be able to get more details from the bank’s social media accounts.