Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, a hot springs hotel in Kyoto, Japan, is the world’s oldest hotel and also the world’s oldest continuously-operating business, as verified by Guinness World Records. The hotel is now 1313 years old and has been operated by 52 generations of descendants of the same family.
We picked some very simple but vital lessons from this legendary hotel brand that businesses around the world should pay attention to if transgenerational growth is a concern.
Lesson One: Brand Values. Careful thought was given to the lasting principles that will govern the operation of the business and each successor had a duty to preserve and transfer these values to their own successor.
Lesson Two: Socio-cultural values matter. The prevalent culture of society has an influence on how businesses run and perform. This is why Mapemond organizes Outclass Employability and Entrepreneurship Training, to breed a different generation of young Nigerians with the right work discipline, work ethics, and work culture.
Lesson Three: Think legacy and succession. What is the point in building a business that ends with you? We should think in terms of being able to transfer what we build to the next generation. Whatever you can do to give your business a chance to survive beyond you, please make the attempt.
Lesson Four: Maintenance culture matters. Successive generations have ensured that this legendary hotel is well maintained over the centuries. How well do you pay attention to good maintenance in your business?
Lesson Five: Innovate. While the essential selling points of the hotel – the view, hot springs, and location – have been maintained, the hotel has gone through a lot of adaptation to modern designs and concepts. As old as it is, it competes favorably with other hotels and tourist destinations across the world.
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Countries are usually categorised as developed, developing and underdeveloped. For years, based on the milestones Nigeria had marked in the past, it has been listed among developing countries in the world and sometimes make claim of being one of the most developed countries in Africa. However, a question has hung in the air for years; whether Nigeria is a developing country based on past glories or an underdeveloped one due to all the setbacks it’s been having.
A guest on a radio station mentioned that Nigeria has not really been exhibiting signs of a developing country when compared to its counterparts. The guest indicated that there hadn’t been much progress in any of the sectors, in terms of expertise, development, infrastructure and growth. When judged using the qualities of developing nations, Nigeria might not be meeting the standard.
Digging deeper into facts rather than dwelling on an opinion, we stumbled on a research carried out in 2018 that showed a list of ‘top 20 most developed countries in Africa’ which excluded Nigeria. The study focused on the gross domestic product (GDP) these countries have developed over time. Leading the top five on the list was Seychelles which had $16,332 GDP per capita, following behind was Mauritius with a GDP per capita of $10,437, Algeria was next with a GDP per capita of 4,669, Tunisia had a GDP per capita of $3,531, Botswana had a GDP per capita of $8,443 and it goes on till the 20th.
Analysing the list further, we discovered these countries shared some similarities which is a diversified economy unlike Nigeria. Seychelles for instance, though known as a tourist destination, has invested on other revenue sources such as fishing, processing of agricultural products, building of boats, etc. Over time, these ventures have brought income and sky-rocketed the country to the top in the African continent.
Coming home, can we say the Nigerian market is developed or open to development? With a GDP per capita around $1,951 which was determined in 2017, Nigeria can hardly boast of sustainable development. This figure tells a lot about the slow paced or declining growth. The root of this slow growth is always linked to the fact that the Nigerian market had known one product, crude oil, for many decades. The oil boom might have brought some glories but still hasn’t taken the economy where it ought to be.
Moving forward, more products, with emphasis on products that are made in Nigeria, need to introduced to the Nigerian market. This should serve as a challenge to both new and existing entrepreneurs. While the Nigerian market is full of competition amongst businesses, it has been observed that there are too many similar ventures. This has left little or no room for improvement and socioeconomic development in the country.
From the statistics shown, it is safe to say that visible development will start from the market. This obviously gives businesspeople an assignment to answer the question, what new idea, product or services are they bringing to the table?
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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Business is synonymous to a game where only the best players win. The best players are not those who start the game but those who swim with the tides of change and develop different strategies as the game gets fiercer. Like the outcome of a game is unpredictable, so is the same for the Nigerian market.
With the swinging economy, the Nigerian market has never been more unpredictable in terms of purchasing power that over time has affected disposable income. Both individuals and businesses have felt the weight of the economic challenges. Though the burden is lighter on others, everyone shares in the consequences of an unstable economy.
This has led to reduced patronage for many businesses because not everyone can afford too many products at once and they continue to look for cheaper alternatives. While many customers can no longer afford to buy in bulk, companies have devise means of still reaching customers at the bottom of the pyramid.
Observing the change amongst consumers, businesses have developed a new approach to retain their relevance and increase their customer base. Most companies have resolved to produce their products in smaller quantities, in this case in sachets. This new strategy is what Tunji Andrews, Lead Economist at Time, Trade and Commodities (TTAC), calls “sachetization”.
In a Twitter post, Tunji indicated that those unwilling to flow with the trend will be at risk of running out of business. This post could be linked to the sachet approach a major brand, Dettol, had employed to reach and retain more customers. Even though this could be considered a clever move, many of his followers connected this strategy to the unfavourable Nigerian economy.
Prior to this time other major brands such as Kellogg, Power Oil, and even tomatoes paste brands had been making their products available in sachet which has been advantageous to them as regards patronage. This is to ensure that both upper and lower class can afford the products. There is no doubt that these brands must have studied and analysed their industry to discover the best approach to tackle the economic barriers. As it seems, this strategy obviously seem to be working for them and has increased their revenue.
We can never overemphasize the need of knowing your market thoroughly. In our previous post sometime ago, we emphasized on the importance of studying your target market as an entrepreneur. Staying abreast with the latest wind of change and keenly observing the solution other brands are engaging and modifying it to suit your business, always keeps you on track.
With more brands embracing “sachetization”, we wonder what new strategies would unfold if it ever gets tougher. Yet again, what can we say, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough gets INNOVATIVE’.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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If asked to narrate the history of your brand, would you be able to walk prospects through your timeline without skipping a vital detail? Have you ever really taken quality time to ponder on your brand’s story? Do you have an archive dedicated to keeping record of your brand’s progress? There are numerous questions pertaining to proper documentation of an organisation’s history that most founders hardly consider.
In researching different brands for our weekly ‘brand review’ column, we discovered a trait common among over 70% Nigerian based brands, poor documentation of their history. While surfing most of their websites for relevant information related to the general structure of their organisation – brand history, core values, vision and mission statements, brand culture, etc – we found too little or no helpful information. Some business owners may consider the information as private and never see the need to share with outsiders, maybe they fear being copied by opponents, or they simply lack the skill of tracking progress.
In contrast to this norm, we also observed a common practice among most foreign-based companies with branches all over the world; they have a keen interest in history. They could dedicate a whole page on their website to their company’s journey that they update regularly whenever the company accomplishes a milestone. Occasionally they boast of their history being their heritage and often urge prospective clients to study their different timelines in order to get a clearer prospective of the company.
Asides this historical approach by great brands being beneficial to strangers, staff are daily reminded of the company’s history as well. They believe having a firm understanding of the past would inform present decisions that would in turn reform the organisation’s future. To them, every milestone is a dot that connects and leads them to their desired future.
The basic essence of creating an accessible rich historical archive for your company is to gain more connection. The more people, both customers and staff, understand and connect with your brand’s story, it makes it more likely for them to stick around much longer. Studies have shown that most brands with in-depth history tend to last longer as they continue to strive to live up the legacy left by their founders. These companies seek different avenues to introduce an innovative idea as a means of staying relevant.
Apple Incorporation is a perfect example of a company with a detailed historic background which is cherished by every employee. From when it was founded in 1976, by Steve Jobs and his partner Steve Wozniak, the company continues to thrive in the world of technology. Despite the death of its founder, Steve, the company with relentless effort towards innovation runs with the same vision but with an improved and modern sight.
When you begin to see your business as an entity of its own, that its progress needs to be recorded per milestone, you evolve your business into one that should indeed be taken seriously. It is not enough to wish for a brand that will outlive you; you must make steps towards documenting every stage of the business with new improvements, as this would eventually form the company’s legacy over time. Start writing your history today!
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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The Shell brand started out as a small London business selling antiques, curios and oriental shells. I feel this gave the idea behind the brand’s name and its visual identity system, specifically the logo design because in time the business grew to export these seashells to the Far East and made profit doing so. The first time the word ‘shell’ was cited was in 1891, when it was used by Marcus Samuel and Company (the original founders) as the business trademark in the shipment of kerosene to the Far East. We would not do justice to this article if we skip Shell brand’s influence – also enhanced by its visual identity system -in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
The brand’s history in Nigeria began as far back as when oil was first discovered at Oloibiri in the Niger Delta region. In fact, this discovery was made by Shell-BP in 1956. Shell is a major stakeholder in the country’s oil and gas sector with a history of over 50 years of doing business in Nigeria since the late 1930’s. According to Shell on its website,
“For more than 100 years the word Shell, our pectin emblem and distinctive red and yellow colours have visualized the Shell brand and promoted our values and the quality of our products and services all over the world.”
This spells our focus for today’s article – Shell’s logo unravel. There is more to the shell’s emblem than meets the eye especially concerning its essence in promoting shell’s values, product and service quality and visualizing the shell brand globally.
Shell’s first logo was designed in 1901 carrying the symbol of a mussel shell. This happened the third year after the formation of the Shell Transport and Trading Company. Thereafter in 1904, a scallop shell also called the pecten emblem was debuted to give the company a brand name and its visual identity. When the afore-mentioned company formed a merger with the Royal Dutch petroleum company three years later, the former absorbed the pecten symbol and the brand name – Shell. The Logo having the pecten emblem and brand name has been like this since then.
However, the shell emblem has undergone a series of modifications in its design; the emblem design used presently was introduced in 1971. Finally, in 1995, the Shell logo underwent its final modification when the logo colours were dimmed. Prior to this time, its colours were very bright and some felt it made the logo look offensive. Therefore, the present design looks more appealing to the eyes. With over 47 years of great usefulness to the brands visual identity, it has grown to be one of the most popularly recognized logo in the world today.
The primary colours of the shell logo is red and yellow. These colours were preferred because of their connection to the Spanish flag since many of the people who settled in California migrated from Spain especially because; during Shell’s formative years, California was its central business region. The red colour gives the emblem a colourful look.
The font used specifically for the brand name element typography is the Futura Bold typeface.
The logo symbol represents the pecten shell which also names the brand – shell. The logo portrays excellence and brilliance of Shell in the corporate world. In addition to this, the logo emblem apart from symbolizing the Pectin shell, it also takes the shape of a crown; signifying Shell’s position as a leader in the oil and gas Industry.
Written by Rejoice Emmanuel
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When people think of major Restaurants in Port Harcourt and Nigeria at large, the list would be incomplete if Kilimanjaro isn’t mentioned. This is so because Kilimanjaro has succeeded in creating a popular and appealing brand among quick service restaurants in Nigeria. Going from its appetizing and tasteful food packages, serene and hygienic environment as well as its endearing customer service, it has retained its position amongst the top brands sought-after by customers. Above all, the brand has remained a much focused business entity, last year alone we learnt that they made a whooping profit of 950m Naira after tax, that’s huge and very promising! You surely would love to know more about this exceptional brand.
THE BRAND HISTORY
Kilimanjaro is the thriving restaurant brand under Sundry Foods Limited, an integrated food services company that proffers hospitality solutions through a wide range of products and services involving catering, restaurants and bakeries. Specifically, the primary brands of Sundry Foods Limited are; Kilimanjaro, Nibbles bakery, SFL catering services, Pizza jungle, and KiliSharwarma. Same group also owns and operates MarketSquare, a supermarket chain under the company Sundry Markets Limited.
Sundry Foods Limited was established in 2004 by Ebele Enunwa, a chartered accountant and former Regional Manager of Stanbic IBTC bank Port Harcourt, who resigned to pursue his dream as an entrepreneur and obtained a Masters of Management in Hospitality degree from Cornell University, USA.
Recording exponential successes in acceptance and sales, Kilimanjaro stands out as the fastest growing and most successful brand of SFL. It has over 31 outlets across the country and is the leading food service provider in two major cities in Nigeria – Port Harcourt and Abuja. They offer a wide range of wholesome and tasty local, African and Intercontinental dishes as well as both corporate and home delivery services. This is done under hygienic conditions, in an attractive manner whilst patiently capturing consumers’ needs during service delivery.
Buttressing this, Kilimanjaro deliver tasty meals on time in good quality and quantity and also make payments easy by providing varied payment options for their customers through its cashless POS service. Ping-a-Meal; an online delivery service, provides customers with the opportunity to place their orders at the comfort of their homes and offices and have them delivered promptly. With Kilimanjaro you can never run out of cash because they offer CashBack services. Out of cash? Just go into any of its outlets. All these and many more has contributed in making Kilimanjaro a competitive brand, highly endearing to hearts of consumers. Little wonder some customers would argue that their meals are the best and are fascinated and really do enjoy Kilimanjaro’s Nibbles coconut, strawberry and chocolate ice-cream mix. These can only be gotten from Kilimanjaro.
THE BRAND VISION
“Better Food, Better Service, Better People”
To be the foremost integrated food services company in the country providing the complete food service solutions to a select strata of clientele.
THE BRAND MISSION
To build a world class organization worthy of association and to create exceptional value for their shareholders by:
- providing an intellectually stimulating work environment where employees can achieve job and career satisfaction,
- providing the best products and service possible in an exciting environment giving the customer an unforgettable experience, while
- positively impacting on our environment and the community at large.
THE SERVICES PROVIDED
Quick service restaurant serving both local and continental cuisines, Nibbles ice cream, shawarma, pizza, bread and confectionaries such as doughnuts, cakes, small chops, desserts, pastries; ping-a-meal service, Office and Home delivery services, industrial catering, events catering services.
THE BRAND CULTURE
Kilimanjaro has the culture of ensuring that the food needs of their customers are met by making available wholesome sumptuous and tasty meals on time and every time in good quality, quantity even at the comfort of their homes and offices. They are critical and very careful in employing staff and hire based on the brands core values of providing tasty meals and quality services to people. In their very own words,
“We know that what we offer has a direct relationship with the quality of materials we use as well as the quality of people we use to provide our services. We therefore take extra caution in hand picking our people and materials in order to ensure that we meet and exceed customer expectations on time, every time.”
Written by Rejoice Emmanuel
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A couple of months ago, we conducted a market research for a client that manufactures and distributes a product which falls within the category of Fast Moving Consumer Goods [FMCGs]. Their target was to push their product into same league as global brands with a strong national presence in Nigeria.
The research was focused on Port Harcourt and the drag net captured three LGAs in Rivers State; Obio-Akpor, Phalga and Eleme. That means every neighbourhood in Port Harcourt was captured. Now, this is the interesting part!
Our client is chasing the bigger players and what that means is that they have been slicing off the market share of the big players just by penetrating the south-south market deeply. However, within the smaller neighbourhoods, especially in Abuloma, we noticed that a much smaller company was slicing off our client’s own market share by penetrating deeply into the Abuloma market and other neighborhoods.
So what’s the point?
Most small businesses and startups lack the financial muscle and operational capacity to give the big players a run for their money. Instead of just dreaming of the day you will square up with the big players and possibly beat them, you can actually focus your limited resources and energy on carving a niche for yourself.
What’s your lowest hanging fruit?
One neighbourhood after another, Habib Yoghurt now has a strong presence in most Nigerian cities including Port Harcourt. If it is one store you can get, give a razor sharp focus to it and penetrate the immediate market deeply, it generates revenue to keep you afloat and also gives you the much needed traction with which you can eventually lure investors and even expand. Before you get your 1000 subscribers, focus on the first 100 and before that, focus on the first 10. Scale down your operations to the barest minimum that your resources can carry. It’s called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
By all means, find that one street, neighborhood, company, demographic, etc and penetrate it DEEPLY. Be an underdog, and if you don’t have the privilege of a bird’s eye view, capitalize on the privilege of a worm’s eye view. It’s luring to want to flesh out your full vision at once, but building up in milestones is more sustainable than trying to do it all at once.
Think about it. What has been the most rewarding source of revenue for you? Focus on it and penetrate that market deeply. You don’t have plenty seeds to scatter, why cut your only seed into several pieces?
Written by Maple Dappa
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