Barely two weeks ago, 14th of August 2019 precisely, Nigeria’s premier motorbike hailing service, Gokada, announced a temporary shutdown. The unexpected close was as a result of the unpleasant experience the CEO, Fahim Saleh, had when he used one of the bikes. In our previous article, Fahim spoke about his disappointment and his plans for an upgrade.
The plans were geared towards improving the services of the brand based on the standard the company has set for itself. In the words of Fahim,
“Gokada has always prided itself on setting the standard in the market for safety and service.
Hairnets, DOT certified helmets, extensive training – these are all reasons safety on our bikes have been so consistent and how we were able to convince so many to give this new age bike taxi a shot. As we scale, what we have now would be the template for what all our future pilots will follow.
We took the risk to pause for a moment and improve on that template in order to provide our customers with exceptional service at scale.”
As envisioned by the Gokada team, the brand was relaunched on 26th August 2019 with an upgraded version, Gokada 2.0 after halting its services with the intention of improving its safety standards and train its pilots, equipping them with advanced driving skills with a focus on safety, GPS navigation, and optimized customer service delivery. Gokada added more quality by overhauling its motorbike fleet completely and acquiring efficient TVS motorbikes alongside Bluetooth enabled helmets to enhance communication.
“We have introduced a new helmet, new motorcycles and we have partnered with a Chinese Company (TVS) to bring the motorbikes to them directly from the manufacturers. We needed a bike that is of high quality and consistent.
We chose TVS because we believe it will be on the road for more time. It is of high quality and I have visited their factory and they work with BMW bikes. They also have innovation experience of over 46 years and it is a high-end motorcycle brand. It is safe and has quality,” Fahim said.
Ayodeji Adewunmi, Co-CEO, explained that the objective of the upgraded version was centered on customer satisfaction;
“Gokada 2.0 is all about our unflinching commitment to our customers.
We believe that it is better to suspend our operations for two weeks so we can retool and revamp for unmatched service delivery and exceptional experience with the Gokada brand for a long time to come.
It will be an incredible time to use the Gokada services as we journey to transform transportation in Nigeria and the rest of Africa. As part of this relaunch, we have also made several upgrades to the management team, and I am truly excited about Gokada 2.0”
Along with this upgrade is a goal to raise over $10m before the end of the year. Adewunmi mentioned this strategic plan during the relaunch announcement. He said this goal is part of the vision of Gokada which is to become the operating system for mobility, on-demand services, and financial services, driving social and economic inclusion across Africa. He stated that since the inception of the brand they’ve been able to raise $5.4m.
Gokada’s Director of Government Relations, Kayode Adegbola, was also positive about their new accomplishment especially the partnership with the Lagos state government;
“We are excited to continue setting the standard in our industry by exceeding all of the regulatory requirements in Nigeria and partnering with government organizations like the Lagos State Government to help move residents through quicker, more comfortable, safer and responsible means”.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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Problems are ever-present in the world and every entrepreneur must be brave enough to face them in their businesses and take total responsibility when they come. In fact, problems are the most predominant element that makes up a business because enterprises are created to either solve a new problem or tackle an existing one.
In every organization, there are two types of problems – external and internal – that needs to be constantly addressed in order to keep work going smoothly. It is often easier to look out for external problems and neglect the internal ones, which can cause more harm to the establishment. We were reminded of this due to the recent temporal shut down of Nigeria’s pioneer motorbike hailing service, Gokada.
The rather abrupt decision taken by the CEO, Fahim Saleh, was because of an inefficiency he observed when he used the Gokada service. He was forced to halt the company’s services after the series of frustration he experienced while he was on board. In his narrative on Medium, he highlighted the different hiccups the services had.
“A little over a week ago I had taken a Gokada hoping to avoid traffic to get to the mainland bridge from VI,” he began.
He stated that his request for a pilot through the Gokada app was delayed,
“I opened the Gokada app, requested, got a pilot, and waited patiently for him to arrive. I called to confirm my location which the pilot said he knew. Five minutes passed by and the pilot had not moved. Another five minutes passed and the pilot was going in the wrong direction. After fifteen minutes and three phone calls, the pilot finally arrived at which point I’m thinking it might have been faster to take a car all the way through.”
After the pilot’s late arrival, Fahim had more disappointments rolling in. He was particularly displeased with the pilot’s incompetency, which was totally against the mission of the brand.
“Upon questioning the pilot, I learned that he didn’t use GPS on his phone because the earplugs he had were broken. Irritated, I motioned him to get started with the ride as I was in a hurry. It should be pretty obvious how to get to the mainland bridge from VI, so I didn’t concern myself with providing him directions but I knew from Google Maps using the best route, it should only take 10 –15 minutes. After about 15 minutes, we were still on the road. I hastily took out my phone and did a quick input of the directions to the bridge and realized we were still 15 minutes away. This pilot had taken a long route to get to the bridge, one that would have been completely avoided had he used the map. I motioned that I would direct him based on the Google Maps navigation. Unfortunately, just as we were about to reach the bridge I directed the pilot to a wrong turn which would have required us to turn all the way around. At this point, it was obvious that a car would have been much faster even with all the traffic. How could I be the CEO of Gokada, the company that pioneered motorcycle ride-hailing in Nigeria and be saying this? I was disappointed in Gokada but most of all, I was disappointed in myself,” he lamented.
General opinion regards the action as rather too drastic and risky considering the stiff competition in business. Fahim believes that it was the only way to tackle such a situation else, it grows worse and unmanageable. “Big problems require big solutions,” he said.
On the other hand, some analysts suggest that the shutdown of Gokada is not unconnected to the bullish strategies of ORide by Opay a Startup powered by Opera. We shall be observing to see how things play out and if Gokada will indeed bounce back better and stronger.
Fahim mentioned that the downtime would be used to restructure the company and train the drivers. He assured customers that the new version Gokada 2.O would be better than their previous experience,
“We can only win by doing right to our customers and our pilots. That is why today I am excited to announce our Gokada 2.0 initiative…we firmly believe that when you want to get somewhere fast, safe, and hassle-free — there won’t be any other app you’d want to open other than Gokada.”
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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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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Like the sun, Oando’s logo streams its rays that emits an irresistible energy to all its customers. The blend of oval shapes of different colours and sizes has become its signature identity recognised all over. It is easy to tell that the company doesn’t just focus on distributing their products and services but also aims to create long lasting impressions.
Though Oando is an indigenous Oil and Gas Company based in Nigeria, it started out as a petroleum marketing company in 1956 and operated with the name Esso West Africa Incorporated that is a subsidiary of Exxon Corporated of the USA. Ever since, the company has evolved to become one of the largest energy brand in Africa.
The Oando brand has been through numerous rebranding stages from acquisitions to mergers. It is one brand that has experienced and survived many difficult times. Even though it has made tremendous impact in the Nigerian oil and gas sector, the company still works with a view of emerging as a world class brand.
The prestigious brand is known for its bold spirit towards the quest to succeed, the quality of its leadership and its well dug African root. It has consistently communicated its beliefs and values through every medium it has at its disposal. One of the medium it leverages to pass its brand’s message across is its outstanding logo.
The logo, which resembles the sun, symbolises warmth and the dawning of a new era for the organization. The oval shaped elements in various sizes encapsulates the company’s continuous expansion and growth. The elements also expresses the brand’s basic principles of vision, focus, and unity. The different angles of the oval shapes is an impression of movement–movement forward, movement to the future, and the movement of energy.
The company’s corporate colour palette was carefully and deliberately selected to uphold the image and energy that forms its identity. The brand ensures that the colour range and graphic elements remain consistent for all their official use as this has become their corporate signature. The consistency in the colour system is applied in order to establish a distinctive visual language and expression for the brand.
The wordmark is written in Helvetica. This font was chosen for its clean feel and readability, and its honest, open and approachable appeal. The font aligns with the brand’s simplicity, clarity and boldness. Also Helvetica is a contemporary and timeless character which secures the brand’s relevance.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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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 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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