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.
Building profitable and reputable BRANDS is what we love doing.
Hardly would you find an athlete who is not familiar with the swoosh symbol. The trademark is virtually on every sport attire you think of. Over the years, that simple but stylish Swoosh symbol has become Nike’s identity and has added to its fame.
Wondered how Nike, the American athletic brand, gained so much recognition and increased its worth? Let us do some unravelling.
Many would say that the creation of Nike in January 25 1964 by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight, brought about a revolution in the sport industry. The company first ran with the name, Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) until May 30, 1971 when it changed to Nike Inc. As part of their rebranding plans, the company began to make use of the Swoosh emblem.
The famous Swoosh logo was craftly designed by Carolyn Davidson in 1971. At the time, Davidson was a graphic design student at Portland State University. She had met Phil Knight who was teaching accounting at the same university. Knight wanted a stripe-like design that would not look like that of its competitors. Davidson designed several marks before the final mark, which symbolises motion.
Since its creation, the Swoosh has gone through only a few changes. The most popular version is the solo swoosh but most often, the emblem is used alongside the brand name, Nike. The logo is used mostly in red and white colour palette and more recently, black.
Since 1988, the Swoosh has been accompanied by the brand’s famous tagline, “Just Do It”. Both the Swoosh and the tagline together communicate the brand’s values and belief. As a major marketing strategy, the brand uses high profile athletes to advertise its products.
The common meaning of the Swoosh is that it communicates motion and speed. However, beneath the simple design lies a deeper meaning because it symbolises the wing of the known Greek goddess of victory, Nike.
Though the logo initially appeared in different colours in a means to be distinguished from other brands, subsequently some primary colours were chosen. The most popular colours used are red and white colour palette. While the red colour indicates passion, energy and joy, the white colour denotes nobility, charm and purity. In recent times, the black colour palette was introduced.
In 1994, the brand’s name NIKE was written in an all caps Futura Bold font along with the Swoosh symbol. In the preceding years, the brand utilised only the Swoosh emblem as its corporate identity.
Due to its simple design that is easily recognisable, Nike’s logo automatically stands out from the crowd. It is listed as one of the most successful and high quality brands in the world. During advertisement, the brand consistently shares its message through its logo. To gain more popularity and dominance, Nike uses the Swoosh logo in endorsing great athletes. So whenever one thinks of Nike, they think of victory.
DID YOU KNOW…
- Nike is the winged goddess of victory in Greek mythology, who sat at the side of Zeus in Olympus.
- The Nike logo cost a total of $35 to be designed by Carolyn Davidson in 1971
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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When the day winds down and the body gets weak, every human craves for one thing, to return home to the comfort of their mattresses. For decades, Mouka Foam has been satisfying this need for soft, homely comfort. This makes it one of the most reliable and recognisable foam brands in Nigeria.
For its brand consistency, we became interested in Mouka to discover its unique features and the market strategies it has employed over the years. From our findings, Mouka Foam is not an ordinary brand and it is one worthy of emulation. Here is a bit of its history.
Mouka’s journey dates back to 1959 when it was founded by the Faiz Moukarim family and was located in Kano State, Nigeria. The company first started out as a factory named Moukarim Metalwood with the focus to manufacture furniture and iron beds. As the company progressed, they ventured into other products like mattress (which it is mostly recognised for), rug, duvet, pillow, etc. To stand out in its industry, the company came with a special recipe, a mind-blowing attention to quality.
In no time the company expanded to Lagos in 1972 with a rebranded name, Mouka Limited and a mission to broaden its horizon. From then on, the company has established production facilities in Benin and Kaduna, from where it distributes to other states in Nigeria.
With little or no competition, Mouka Limited rose to the top in its industry and earned reputation as a leader in the manufacturing of polyurethane-based products in Nigeria. The company has gained more market shares in Nigeria and the ECOWAS sub-region. The brand reaches its customers through its thousands of distributors and sub-distributors all over the country.
Exhibiting its leadership position, in 1992, Mouka Limited spearheaded the end of carbon-flouro-carbon (CFC) materials during production. Also in 1999, it became the first foam company to receive ISO 9001 certification (Laboratory) in Nigeria, thereby setting the pace for other brands.
Mouka Limited has not only built a brand but has carefully selected a team of dedicated individuals to manage the company. Its staff are committed to the brand’s values and vision.
“To be the clear leader in the polyurethane business in Nigeria.”
“To add comfort to life.”
The way an apple never falls far from its tree, is the same way the brand’s services never falls below its values. These values continue to drive it smoothly on the success path.
From the onset, Mouka had established itself as a brand that produces high quality products. History has it that it was the first foam manufacturing company to offer quality warranty on its products. It has also been tested and proven by most of its customers. Through its standard of production, the company continues to gain more trust and recognition in the market.
Mouka Limited has chosen the innovative approach in executing its business. It utilises both recent technology and the will power of its team to ensure the brand’s mission is achieved and customers get the comfort they deserve.
The brand boasts of a rich network of distributors, sub-distributors and Sleep Galleries positioned in different parts of the country. Due to its efficient production facilities in strategic cities, the brand remains a solution provider and supplier in the foam industry.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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There is a new rave in the Nigeria footwear industry, and Bata seems to be at the center of it all. For those who probably mistook Bata for either a Yoruba venture or an Igbo business, you might need to sit down for some shocking revelations and hopefully you will get a paradigm shift at the end of this article. Moreover, it is not new to the Nigeria market.
You might probably be amazed that the Canadian multinational footwear and fashion accessory manufacturer and retailer, Bata, has been in the Nigerian scene since 1932. Bata also pioneered projects that developed the Nigerian shoe industry.
On the shores of Zlín Czechoslovakia in August 24, 1894, Thomas Bata established the shoe factory that, within a decade, became a leading shoe manufacturing company in Europe. Bata Shoe Company’s dominance then and now is associated to their smart entrepreneurship, mechanization and competitive pricing.
Following the global economic slump that arose after World War 1 in 1914, the company experienced some challenges due to the instability – currency devaluation and massive unemployment – in the new country. Because of this, there was less purchase of products, which led to a cut back in production. Unshaken by this setback, Thomas Bata came up with a new strategy to tackle this economic crisis by drastically reducing the prices of all the shoes.
As expected consumers responded speedily to the price drop which increased demands for Bata shoes. This saw the closure of many rival shoe manufacturers, in 1923 and 1925, who could no longer meet up the demands that came with the crises. While this was happening, Bata gained more grounds and relevance.
With this successful outcome, the company purchased several hectares to build a factory town, known as “Bataville”. Within the location, the company had grouped tanneries, a brickyard, a chemical factory, a mechanical equipment plant and repair shop, workshops for the production of rubber, a paper pulp and cardboard factory, a fabric factory, a shoe-shine factory, a power plant and farming activities to carter for food and energy needs.
Despite the death of Thomas Bata, the founder, in 1932, the company waxed stronger, increased the quality of shoes and remained a leader in the shoe manufacturing industry. This growth did not end in Czechoslovakia, it also expanded and built factories in other countries – Poland, Latvia, Romania, Switzerland, France, etc.
In 1964, the Bata Company moved their headquarters to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 1965, it moved again into an ultra-modern building, the Bata International Centre. The building, located on Wynford Drive, in suburban North York, Ontario, Canada, was designed by architect John B. Parkin.
Nigeria was also in the plan. The company graced the Nigerian soil since 1932, became a major trader and manufacturer in 1964 popularly known as Bata Trading Company and subsequently in 1998 changed to Bata Nigeria PLC. The company spearheaded the development and modernization of shoe manufacturing in Nigeria and maintained tanneries for the processing of leather and allied products such as wet blue. It also instigated the model for local tanneries that were designed in line with the socio-cultural structure of many third world countries and ethnic groups across continents like Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Unfortunately, due to unfavourable business policies, the company exited the Nigerian market in the 80s. These policies affected the company’s operations and made it less effective. Even after its exit, Bata Shoes Company had left an unbeatable legacy and a gap that no other shoe manufacturer could replace.
However, the company recently announced its comeback to the Nigerian market, with a one million naira launch for a factory complex in Abuja. The company’s Nigerian stakeholders are leading the project that is scheduled to start operations in June. They believe this would tackle problems related to shoe importation in Nigeria.
To grow as a dynamic, innovative and market driven domestic manufacturer and distributor, with footwear as our core business, while maintaining a commitment to the country, culture and environment in which we operate.
To be successful as the most dynamic, flexible and market responsive organization, with footwear as its core business.
Asides giving the shoe manufacturing industry in Nigeria a facelift, Bata looks forward to reducing the unemployment rate in the country by training and employing 128 youths from Nigeria. These set of qualified individuals will be responsible for managing the production in the factory. Based on the quality Bata has been known for, Nigerians can be assured that the brand will continue to deliver exceptional products and in turn give them value for their money.
We hope this article has enlightened you in some way. We would love to read your comments, if you do not mind sharing.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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At the sight of clustered school kids in the peak of an afternoon or at the close of school, there is high degree of certainty that an ice cream vendor on a bicycle is available making a good sale of different Fan Milk products. On the menu of many adults who are health conscious but still crave for sweetness, Fan Milk is usually their preferred yoghurt brand. Its variety of products are also listed as one of the most patronised in any dairy outlet.
Since its emergence in the dairy market, there is no doubt that Fan Milk has made tremendous impact in the lives of its consumers and the society. Most often than not, it is considered as one of the most influential brands in its industry which is an attestable fact largely. Interestingly, Fan Milk has gained a large customer base with little or no adverts and has remained a threat to other dairy manufacturers in Nigeria. Today, our review explores the brand delighting the taste buds of many across the country.
It would come as a shock to most consumers that their favourite dairy manufacturer, Fan Milk PLC, has been churning out its products since1963. Though founded by a Danish merchant and industrialist Erik Emborg, the business has always been Nigerian based with the first factory established in Ibadan and a distribution centre in Lagos. The company made its major sales through bicycle vendors who got their supplies from smaller depots. During its early days, the factory depended on imported milk powder to produce it fresh milk and subsequently focused on white milk, chocolate milk, cottage cheese and set yoghurt as its product range.
In a bid to increase its customer satisfaction, in the 1970s, Fan Milk introduced other products such as yoghurt drink, ice-lollies, ice cream and a new packaging technology, Tetra Pak. The company experienced a good financial outcome and recognition due to the success of the new products in the market. To gain more grounds, the company commissioned its second dairy factory in 1981 in Kano and has since then spread to different parts of the country with many depots and outlets to its name. This strategic move increased both its customer base and visibility in the country.
Despite being a Nigerian based company, 96% of Fan Milk’s shares were owned by the foreign partner. Following a decree, The Nigeria Enterprises Promotion Decree, made by the government in the late 1970s, the company opened its investment platform to more Nigerians. As a result, Nigerians acquired 60% shares in the company.
The1980s and 1990s came with some bumps such as the export restrictions, economic difficulties, devaluations and shortages of fuel thereby reducing the company’s speed and influence. Rather than dwell on the setbacks, in 1998, the company began to seek ways to remedy the situation. With the collaboration of the foreign partner and the Industrialization Fund for Developing Countries (Denmark) an agreement was reached which was to infuse more capital to enable the company restructure its finances, refurbish cold rooms, and increase the number of depots. Within that same period, the company introduced Fan Dango, a fruit drink which made irresistible waves in the market. Due to the expansion and rehabilitation programme, the company was again back on track.
Following its desire to improve and reach more customers within the length and breadth of the country, Fan Milk PLC looks forward to introducing a better distribution system that will convert depots to mini distribution centres (MDCs) and franchise outlets. The new product delivery system is called Last Mile Distribution (LMD) and will focus on delivering products ordered via the hotline or online portals to customers in their shops.
Fan Milk has also expanded to other countries in Africa like Ghana, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire. As part of its brand impact, the company has employed over 800 workers and has empowered thousands of bicycle vendors and other agents.
It sees a clear vision for itself thus:
“To be the number one producer and marketer of frozen dairy products in Nigeria.”
The company mission statement is stated as follows,
“It is our mission to be a leading manufacturer and marketer of healthy, nutritious and safe frozen dairy and non-frozen dairy food products at affordable prices to the benefit of all stakeholders.”
The company is driven by the following core values;
- Professional Management
- Financial Suitability
- Corporate Citizenship
For its brand success, the company leverages two market approaches:
- Quality products with emphasises on the health benefits.
- Broad distribution chain that covers every kind of consumer regardless of their status and age.
From our research, we accredit the brand’s success to its consistency regardless of the changing times and its distribution approach. With these, Fan Milk has made itself one of the most successful dairy brands Nigeria has ever known.
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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If you have a flair for creams then at some point, you must have tried a Nivea product or even if you are not a cream fan, we can bet you must have seen a Nivea commercial televised on your screen or a billboard with NIVEA boldly printed on it or even an online advert.
For over 130years, the brand has consistently spread its fragrance through different products. Though a German based company, Beiersdorf, which is behind the famous product NIVEA has established itself in the Nigerian cosmetic industry. Today we examine how NIVEA which started in a small scientific laboratory exploded to almost every part of the world.
NIVEA, which is the trademark for one of Beiersdorf’s popular cosmetics brand, was derived from the Latin word “nix, nivis” meaning “snow-white”. The brand was birthed from quality research, and a great deal of creativity and a good business sense.
The brand’s success story traces back to the Pharmacist, Paul C. Beiersdorf, who first invented the coated plaster in his small laboratory in Hamburg in 1882. Subsequently, after his invention, Beiersdorf started the company and till date the company bears his name.
The company experienced a change of ownership in 1890 when Dr. Oscar Troplowitz took over from Paul C. Beiersdorf. Troplowitz expanded the company and further developed the water-in-oil emulsifier as a skin cream with Eucerit which was the basis for Eucerin and later became NIVEA.
In 1911, Dr. Oscar Troplowitz produced the first NIVEA Creme with the help of chemist Dr. Isaac Lifschütz and dermatologist Prof. Dr. Paul Gerson Unna. The skin cream was a stable oil-and-water. In 1914 the company operated the business in over 34 countries and as a result it gained global popularity.
In 1918 when Dr. Oscar Troplowitz and his brother-in-law and partner Dr. Otto Hanns Mankiewicz died, the company’s trademark was changed severally until June 1, 1922 when it finally settled for P. Beiersdorf & Co. AG corporation.
After its first commercial in 1920 with “Eulalias Verjüngung” (“Eulalia’s rejuvenation”) which was shown in a German movie theatre, NIVEA got more spotlight on it. The aim was to convince prospective customers of the effectiveness of the snow-white skin cream.
Though the NIVEA brand had existed and made itself visible in the Nigerian market for over fifty years, it was not until 2017 the company Beiersdorf officially announced its arrival in Nigeria. Believing that the Nigerian soil had become fertile enough, the company invested N7 billion in the economy and described it as the right place for investment.
It was also forecasted that by 2050, Nigeria will become the 14th largest market in the world. The company assured its Nigerian customers more quality products and more innovative brands. Since then, the brand has continued to thrive and keep to its promises.
BRAND CORE VALUES
The company has always been guided by four main core values from the beginning. The brand’s core values has informed the manner the business is being operated, the way employees are being treated and the also the way colleagues associate with each other. The four values are as follows;
One major culture the brand believes in is the importance of showing care. They are concerned about employing a culture which encourages individuals to lead their own unique ideas and convictions and are also inspired to take responsibilities for themselves and their teams. They welcome and promote diversity, which they believe breeds innovation.
The company is run with flat and flexible hierarchy system. They make conscious effort towards honesty, sincerity and straightforwardness in order to ensure everyone knows where they fit in. They try to strike a fair balance between work and life so they embrace teamwork in a means to devise individual solutions.
The brand ties its strategy to “care”. In their words, “For us, “care” is more than just part of our business, it expresses our responsibility to people and the environment. We manufacture high-quality skin care products and have more than 100 years research expertise. Our efforts form part of Beiersdorf’s international sustainability strategy “We care”.”
Being a well-known brand, NIVEA has used its influence to seek for alternative ways to improve the lives of people and the society. The brand continues to support sustainable sourcing which would enable them produce more quality products. They serve as an educative platform to enlighten people health wise.
FEEDBACK FROM CUSTOMERS
Knowing NIVEA as a brand most Nigerians have patronised, we decided to get some feedbacks from some customers;
“Nivea products are affordable. Though I think it doesn’t really last for 48hours as we are made to believe in their adverts, but then I like the fact that there are no harmful chemicals in them. Nice fragrance too,”- Grace
“For me, Nivea roll-on and deodorants are long lasting even beyond 24hrs. Another amazing fact is that they are non-alcoholic and can be used immediately after shaving without the burning/peppery sensation other products give. Unique fragrance I must add. They also have varieties of products one can choose from,”- Oswin
From the feedbacks above, one would observe a high level of consistency and impact the brand has made which can be considered as their strength. With its firm foundation, NIVEA remains a brand that will forever live in the minds of many in years to come.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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Earlier this week, whilst thinking of a brand to review – particularly brands which had made significant impact using Port Harcourt as a launchpad – the brand CypherCrescent came into mind. For many of us in Port Harcourt, more especially those who aren’t into the Tech business – this brand may seem foreign to us. Nevertheless, this same brand is well-known in the oil and gas industry particularly in Nigeria.
Cypher Crescent was established few years prior to March 2015 when Mr. ThankGod Egbe, a mathematician and research enthusiast, resigned from Shell after eight years of dedicated service to the company in both Nigeria and the Netherlands. With over 5 years of doing business and adding value to the oil and gas industry, Cypher Crescent has since seen expansion of its business beyond the shores of the country to Aberdeen, United Kingdom, Homan, and Houston Texas and all over the world.
Cypher Crescent Limited is a research and software development company, which utilizes mathematical models to proffer creative, innovative, and effective business solutions to the engineering problems encountered by clients/companies in the exploration and production of oil & gas. They also provide consulting services in oil and gas asset management and as such, help petroleum production and exploration companies better manage their well and reservoir assets in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Their flagship tech innovation – SEPAL – a business intelligence tool for well and reservoir management has so far seen major successes in acceptance and is highly sought in the industry by both government-owned and private oil & gas firms. SEPAL (Structured Engineering Presentation and Analytics Library) help oil and gas exploration and production companies remain competitive more importantly in these times of constant oil price fluctuations in an industry which contributes over 90% of the country’s total export value and revenue.
In the recent past, this alluring brand collaborated technically with NNPC Research and Development Division in the use of technological innovations in enhancing the production of oil and gas in Nigeria. In a country that depends majorly on the revenue derived from its oil & gas economy, you could guess what significant measure this implies on the overall growth and development of the Nation.
To show their love for research and the development of the oil and gas sector, Cypher Crescent donated twenty-four SEPAL licenses (its debut product on well, reservoir & facility integrated asset management) to the Institute of Petroleum Studies (IPS), University of Port Harcourt in 2018. The previous year, it donated fifteen of similar licenses worth over US$1.5 million to the African University of Science and Technology (AUST). They also recently sponsored some indigenes of host communities in ICT training as a way of enhancing the human-resource-base capital of the society.
To be a leading provider of world-class oil and gas asset management solutions.
To safeguard oil and gas asset integrity and enhance production through innovation and cost-effective business intelligence solutions
Their core values
Integrity, Respect & Innovation
Excerpts from their website states:
Our clients are international oil companies (IOCs), NOCs, independent and marginal field operators seeking to maximize value from their oil and gas assets. We also provide technical expertise and support for servicing companies involved in turnkey projects.
Our team of experts are drawn from diverse backgrounds, with skills and experiences garnered from both the E & P industry and the academia. The team is motivated by their constant desire to continuously innovate and create value that address existing gaps in the E & P business. The team’s experience covers areas such as geosciences, petrophysics, reservoir engineering, production technology, well completions, production operations, mathematical modeling and software development.
SEPAL – Structured Engineering Presentation & Analytics Library
- Mathematical modeling
- Engineering Software Development
- Asset Management Services
- Technical Support and Training
Cypher Crescent is committed to collaborating and assisting their clients to gain valuable understanding of their assets through the integration of acquired data and in-depth technical insights.
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Unilever is unarguably one of the prominent brands that has added value and impacted the world through its numerous products. If you take stock of the products you use ranging from tea to detergent, bath soaps, seasoning cubes, and so on, you are very likely to discover that Unilever is very much present in your home.
Particularly in Nigeria, most of Unilever’s products are recognised leaders in their various market segments since they have become preferred and trusted brand in the heart of a great number of consumers. With over 400 brands under its umbrella in more than 190 countries, Unilever has strategically stamped its name in the sands of time and has become a legend as a consumer goods company. Follow through as we explore the different aspects of this universal brand.
Unilever’s purposeful journey started as far back as 1800 as a merger of many small family businesses. The company leveraged different commodities starting from butter the Jurgens started in 1860 in the Netherlands. In 1927, the company merged with another thriving butter company owned by a Dutch family, Van den Bergh. Together they worked to develop and trade a new product, which we know as margarine, a more affordable substitute for butter. Their business was called Margarine Unie.
In 1884, William Lever who started his business under the name, Lever Brothers, had produced a new soap he named Sunlight. This distinctive soap, made up of copra or palm kernel oil had the ability to lather easily unlike the soap brands before it. To add to its uniqueness, Sunlight was packaged differently and eventually became one of the first brands to gain visibility through advertisement. These adverts were done using creative mediums such as small cards inserted into soap packaging, featuring the Sunlight brand in cartoon drawings or calendars.
The Lever Brothers and Margarine Unie merged in September 1929 to form Unilever. In a bid to increase their market options, in 1943, Unilever acquired T. J. Lipton, Batchelors Peas, and then Pepsodent in 1944.
Moving forward, the company launched new products and acquired more companies like the British-based Lipton Ltd, Brooke Bond, the maker of PG Tips tea, Chesebrough-Ponds the maker of one of their popular brands, Vaseline. It also acquired the enterprise Ben and Jerry, Slim Fast, Knorr, Hellmann’s and a whole lot of others. These acquisitions have all combined to make Unilever the empire it is today.
While Unilever was deepening its root overseas, it also launched its brands in Africa in 1923. In that year, Robert Hesketh Leverhulme started his trading business under the name, Lever Brothers (West Africa) Ltd in Nigeria. The business focused mainly on soap trade and subsequently in 1925 opened a factory in Apapa. The company’s name was changed to Lever Brothers Nigeria Limited in 1955 and while it expanded to food products, another factory was launched in Aba in 1958.
After the introduction of Omo detergent in 1960, Lever Brothers got more attention as it met the need of many consumers. This achievement led to the commissioning of a manufacturing factory, in 1964, for the Omo brand. Unilever became a publicly listed company in 1973, due to the indigenisation decree made in 1972. This saw the company selling 60% of its shares to the Nigerian public making it a Nigerian owned company.
The company continued to broaden its range of products and began to source for its raw materials locally. In order to achieve their new venture, the company invested in crop production, oil palm milling and tea plantation. In 1995, Unilever merged with Unilever Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of the Unilever U.K. This merger gave Unilever a certain level of control in the Nigerian market. However, in 2001, the company was changed to Unilever Nigeria Plc. Since then, the company has continued to evolve and expand.
Unilever is a purpose driven brand that has operated with a clear vision which is basically to make sustainable living commonplace. This vision has transcended in all aspects of their operations
In every region, Unilever combines its multinational expertise with local cultures in order to blend with consumers. This way it continues to penetrate deep into its target market. Its long-term strategic choices range from an active portfolio management, a focused approach to innovation, investment in digital marketing. Adding to this, they have employed consistency, competitiveness in innovations, profitable improvement, and social responsibility as their major market strategies.
Unilever operates with simple core values such as;
- Integrity and
Unilever has some sets of clear priorities, which guides its campaigns and operations;
- A better future for children
- A healthier future
- A more confident future
- A better future for the planet
- A better future for farming and farmers
Unilever has proven to be a people centred brand from its approach of executing its operations from manufacturing, down to distribution. It seeks for the healthiest alternatives when producing its products.
One visible way they have made impact over the years is by initiating transformational change in the society through ending of deforestation, improving the quality of water people use, heading agricultural enhancement programs, increasing sanitation and hygiene, training small holders to farm sustainably, and women empowerment etc. They have accomplished most of these projects through partnership with government and NGOs
For its quality and consistency in pursuing its purpose, the brand has received several recognition, which include:
No.1Top spot in the Personal Products sector of the 2017 Dow Jones Sustainability Index
No.1 Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the 2017 Globe Scan/Sustain Ability annual survey
‘A’ Grade for Climate Change, Water, Forests and Supplier Engagement in CDP’s 2018 Global Supply Chain report.
With its wealth of experience, in depth market strategy and clear vision, Unilever will continue to be an acceptable and remarkable brand.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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A phone brand with variety of ringtones almost half of Nigerians cannot forget is Nokia. With its different models that came in different shapes and sizes with different abilities, Nokia sure did leave a mark on the walls of the telecommunication market in Nigeria. It had a grand entrance into the market and enjoyed a good season of dominance.
Interestingly, with time and as new brands emerged with different technologies and innovations, Nokia began to lose its stand and at some point was wiped out of the Nigerian market. Determined to spring back to its feet, Nokia through its partnership with Microsoft produced new products to satisfy the ever craving Nigerian market.
Regardless of what must have gone wrong, it is undeniable that Nokia is a remarkable brand and there are many lessons to learn from its brand story. So brace yourself as we dissect one of the historical brands ever – Nokia.
Nokia, what we now know as one of the most popular multinational telecommunications brands in the world went from one industry to another before venturing and becoming known for production of mobile phones. Here is how it transited.
In the early period of 1865, May 12th precisely, Fedrik Idestam, a mining engineer, founded Nokia in Finland. In that year, the brand did not start as a telecommunication brand rather it commenced as a single paper mill operation. The company went public with the name Nokia Ab in 1871 when Leo Mechelin, Idestam’s friend joined hands with him.
Like most partnership, Idestam and Mechelin did not agree on everything. At some point, Mechelin wanted to expand the company into the electricity business but Idestam declined the idea. In 1896, Idestam retired and Mechelin became the company’s chairperson. Nevertheless, after Idestam had retired in 1896, Mechelin pushed his idea to the company’s shareholders and eventually Nokia became an electricity company in 1902.
Due to its near bankruptcy after World War I, Suomen Gummitehdas Oy, popularly known as Finnish Rubber Works, acquired Nokia. It was a company founded in 1898 by Eduard Polon, a business leader. The Finnish Rubber Works subsequently acquired Suomen Kaapelitehdas Oy (Finnish Cable Work). This new company was into the production of telephone, telegraph and electrical cables.
While Nokia Ab, Suomen Gummitehdas, and Suomen Kaapelitehdas were under the same roof, they did not merge legally but became a viable group.
However, in 1967, the three companies merged to form Nokia Corporation. This new establishment manufactured products like paper items, car and bicycle tyres, rubber boots, communications cables, televisions and other consumer electronics, personal computers, generators, robotics, capacitors, military technology and equipment (such as the SANLA M/90 device and the M61 gas mask for the Finnish Army), plastics, aluminium and chemicals.
The company ran for close to fifteen years within which it experienced loss at some points, giving birth to a new focus on mobile phone technologies. From the merger between Nokia and Salora, in 1979, the Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT) network called 1G, which became the first fully automatic cellular phone system, was developed.
In order to create better phone models, Nokia purchased Salora in 1984. Following the success of this, in 1987, Nokia launched its first mobile phone “Mobira Cityman 900” for NMT– 900 networks that was able to accommodate data.
After gaining its ground in the mobile phone industry, Nokia commenced operations in over 130 countries connecting millions of people all over the world.
Nokia explains its vision simply, “we create the technology to connect the world.”
The brand has operated with solid values over the years. Here they are;
As more competitions arose among the mobile phone brands, in 2008, Nokia’s market share fell to 40.8 percent. Even though Nokia tried to get back its position in the market by releasing new models like N97 touchscreen device, it still experienced some loss in 2009.
Even with the losses, Nokia refused to give into the pressure to switch to producing Android based smartphones and continued to focus on producing more Symbian based smartphones which were no longer selling in the market. This again saw their market shares drop further in 2010.
In search of a remedy, Nokia went into partnership with Microsoft. Because of this partnership, Nokia adopted Windows Phone as the operating system for the smartphones it produced from 2011. Nokia took a more courageous step on the 25 April 2014 to sell its mobile phone business to Microsoft for £3.79bn.
Despite all the pitfalls, Nokia continues to bounce back, proving itself as a hard nut to crack. In recent times, it has embraced new technologies, thereby enhancing the quality of its products. It has made its return into market with more vibrancy, and has gained back its visibility.
DID YOU KNOW
- The name Nokia was coined from a town called Nokia and the Nokianvirta River.
- By the end of 2013, 10,000 employees had been dismissed
- In the 1980s, Nokia’s computer division “Nokia Data”, produced a series of personal computers called the “MikroMikko” in the 1980s
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