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BRANDING AGRIBUSINESS: SUREFIRE WAY TO WIN CUSTOMERS



Farmers most times complained of lack of customers and market access for their products. Ministry of Agriculture, Agricultural Development Programme, Research Institutes and Universities have been focusing on teaching and training people on agricultural production, even some NGOs have been preaching food security while leaving a crucial aspect called Branding. Little wonder why smallholder farmers don’t grow beyond their small capacity. Even graduates of school of agriculture were only trained on how to produce hence making them to end up as smallholder farmers.  Have you come to think of it, why people prefer some products and services over another despite the cost difference? If we must practice agriculture as a business and take it to the next level, there is need for stakeholders to consider branding as inevitable part of agribusiness that will ensure sustainable growth and development. Middlemen that own no farms and smart agropreneurs with no B.Agric qualification are building strong agribusinesses, getting good customers patronage and making most profit because they built their business brand while smallholder farmers that actually produced the products remain perpetually poor, relying on Government fertilizers and seeds/seedlings.
Brand building has been the core component of large and sustainable organisations today. Branding is the small things they do daily that build their business. Brands are clusters of functional and emotional values which promise stakeholders unique experience. It is an intangible assets that agribusiness should acquire.
According to Emmanuella Clinton, CEO, Nuela Clinton Farms, Delta, Nigeria, ‘Brand is anything that distinguishes your product from another man’s product while branding is the intellectual capacity you add to your business.
“People purchase Eva water despite the price compared to sachet water because Eva has done something to our mind. They branded our mind. When drinking Eva water we have a mind-set that it is safe while sachet water without a brand name does not assure this. We need to brand our product to attract customers to an extent of higher profitability” said Emmanuella.
She continued by highlighting five (5) ways to brand our business and they are as follow; Make your Customers have reason to come back; Make your product better than others; Give Customer a good conduct of character; Target Diverse Market and Grow your business by all means.
However, effective branding of agribusiness should consider the following;

1. Personality: Personality development is fundamental in building the brand of any agribusiness. There is need for stakeholders in the agricultural sector to develop a distinctively independent attitude. Stakeholders with outstanding attitude towards customers get more patronage than ones with bad attitude. This aspect also entails having relationship with staff and customers. Your customers can be the people you sell/give/offer your first product/service to and this set of people can be instrumental in building your business brand when you have good relationship with them. When customers want to choose between competing brands, they assess the fit between the personalities of competing brands and the personality they wish to project.
2. Image: Image formed by customers of an agribusiness or farm enterprise matters in the brand development. People do not react to reality but to what they perceive to be reality. Customers will approach individuals, businesses or farms with good track record or reputed to be trustworthy and has delivered quality products or service. It is therefore necessary for management to check consumers’ perceptions of their organisation or business and take action to encourage favourable perceptions. When you give customers a nice treat, it leaves good impression in their memory.
3. Identity: Identity is another way of branding your agribusiness. It entails having a unique name, logo, objectives, vision, mission and core values for your business. This identity should be well reflected in your products/services delivery, activities execution, staff and customers relationship. Get a distinct name that clearly describes your business. Logo may be name, term sign, symbol, design or combination of them intended to identify products or services. Objective guides activities while values guide behaviour. The vision for what the brand is to become should drive ideas about the core essence of the brand. Identity of a product or service can be spread and entrenched using tools such as business directory, having business website, participating in social media and forum site and featuring in Newspaper, Television and Radio programmes. Equally, you create identity by participating in conferences and trade exhibitions.
4. Company/Corporation: Forming Company, group or cooperative quickly builds business brand than one man business. Consumers are more likely to accept corporation’s promises and offerings. Corporate branding facilitates consumers’ desires to look deeper into the brand and assess the nature of the corporation. Syngenta which is one of the leading seed company in the World was formed as a merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals. Many agribusiness giants were formed by cooperatives or group of individuals with common goals. It is therefore important for small businesses or individuals with same/compatible goals to join forces to build better brand of their products and services.
5. Legal Framework: Another way of building business brand is to enforce a legal statement of ownership. It thus involves having legal framework for your business which should include article of organisation, constitution, business registration, patenting, trademark registration and intellectual property. Customers will freely transact business with a company having good legal structure.
6. Value Addition: The importance of value addition in agribusiness cannot be over emphasized. There is need to re-strategy the way we produce and supply our goods to final consumers. Value addition entails adopting good production practice/technology, packaging, processing, logistics and supply chain management. It involves providing customers with extra benefits. Value is in the eyes of the beholder, if a brand is to thrive; its added values need to be relevant to customers. 

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