Articles & Opinions · Bucharest, October 12, 2005

Romanian brands

Why is it now the time to create Romanian brands?

A market dominated by opportunity encourages a marketing behavior and competencies that are not directed towards differentiation and loyalty strategies. This is what has happened on the Romanian market over the past 15 years. Romanian entrepreneurs have focused on gaining momentum and they have not built their business thinking too much about the future. They only wanted to take advantage of the present time. Short term objectives like sales and quick profit have sabotaged the long-term objectives like investment in human capital, brands or reputation.

Without branding and brands, local FMCG and services businesses will feel the heat of the immense marketing and branding knowledge, commercial and financial power of the global and regional players that will be practically invited to the local market when Romania joins the European Community. Those unable to adapt to the idea of competition by differentiation and competitive advantage will suffer a setback. Branding has become a buzz word lately but professionally is still regarded as a kind of football that we are all good at. Romanian clients, at management or stakeholder level, have the complex of “daddy-is-good-at-everything” and look for partners to satisfy this ego rather than consultants who temperate it and help them see other perspectives. The relatively easily gained power and success have made them  think they are designers, marketing or communication specialists. Maybe this is why our streets look so ugly and unattractive, Romanian merchandise packages are uncompetitive and worthless, companies’ graphic identities are neither memorable or relevant, nor inspiring at least for the organizations themselves, trade spaces exist only for sales and not for loyalty, television visual identities and magazine layouts look like graduate designer works from the Romanian communist decade of the 80s, product design is practically inexistent while “contract work” is in everything and so on. Exceptions confirm the rule, of course.

I don’t imagine how local businesses could think they are able to face large multinational and regional companies without brands and branding strategies. Consumers’ cynical spirit and democratized aspirations could be balanced only by the certitude and reliance offered by brands. On the other hand, we cannot find any success recipe in the modern FMCG and services management that ignores the ingredient of differentiation by relationship and shared experience. There is no growth without branding and there is no profit margin without brands. Large multinational corporations are altars of reputation, and reputation is the best protection against incertitude and unwanted events as well as the most generous opening to opportunities.

Published in Campaign, no.2, 2005.

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