Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Today I will be looking at the concept of brand positioning in the marketing of the Kreyann’ fashion label founded 10 years ago by the Cameroonian Anna Ngann Yonn an ex Esmod Paris student.

Positioning is, “The act of designing the company's offering and image so that they occupy a meaningful and distinct competitive position in the target customers’ minds” (Kotler 1997).

Positioning is not about the product but actually what the customer thinks about the product or organisation. Therefore it is about visibility and recognition of what a product represents to a buyer.


·         Females

·         Open minded

·         Understands world cultures

·         Understands fashion and trends

·         Well travelled

·         Professional


·         20-65


·         Kreyann’ positions itself as an exclusive high end womenswear brand in Cameroon and beyond for its high end price tag and exclusive branding techniques although it does not follow advertising rules to emphasise this.


·         Exclusive

·         Luxurious

·         Attention to detail

·         One off pieces

·         Ready to wear and made to measure

·         Quality fabrics

·         Well decorated studio positioned in the affluent business quarters of Douala.


·         Limited stockists

·         Not well known outside of Cameroon and in the Anglophone fashion world either.



·         An online store would be an asset. It would enable those outside of Cameroon to be able to purchase pieces easily.

·         Increase the number of stockists to also ensure visibility in new territories/markets.

·         Increase their advertising and communication strategies to ensure that the brand has some visibility.

·         Increase their partnerships and associations with the Anglophone media to ensure wide coverage and visibility for the brand.

·         Create an illusion of youth culture by maybe introducing a more fresh and poppy look targeting the younger segments of their target market.

 Some images from Kreyann' 10 year show K-Walk in Douala November 2001

Kreyann’ reseller:
La Boutique Extraordinaire
67, rue Charlot
75003 Paris

All images by SDR

Until the next post!
Follow me on Twitter: @Brownschuga

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Hello peeps! Today I will be starting a series which will analyse the various websites of some of established and emerging African fashion brands out there.

And today, I have decided to kick start this process with a brand that needs no introduction. By this I mean it is a fashion brand that is known by most Africans and non Africans alike that are into fashion. If you say you are into African fashion especially, you must definitely be in the know/have heard of this power house.

This brand has built up a hard reputation as a brand to be reckoned with. It’s branding speaks elegance, exclusivity and elite-ness (does this word exist even?! It does now!) as seen in their product pricing (how about spending £1,696 on a dress?), their product quality, the attitude of the designer/brand (you don’t see them everywhere and they don’t just feature in any type of event/publication!) and also their point of sale. Their flagship store in Ajose Adeogun Street in Victoria Island, Lagos is a very airy and light clutter free contemporary space.

So let’s check out their website and see what it says and if it fits with the overall branding of exclusivity, elegance and elite-ness.

I go online and type their name into Google and 2 websites pop up! So here goes my analysis of the first site (.net site) based on these aspects:

·         Look
·         Relevancy
·         Usability
·         Currency

Look: On first impression, I expected a more exclusive, elegant and new image to welcome me rather than the outdated image that is presently on here.  After entering the site, I was then not sure about where to click next as I was bombarded with different mish-mashed images representing different aspects of the website. Where is the exclusive brand continuity I begin to ask myself? Surely this is misleading to their clientele. (See images below)

Relevancy: Does the site have what its customers are looking for? What would a Deola Sagoe customer be looking for? Information on new collection (look book), designer bio, progress report on what the brand is doing behind the scenes/a way to keep your brand constant in the minds of your audience (blog), point of sale address (plus any stockists addresses) plus contact details for the store and the team at Deola Sagoe. What is presented? A badly presented lookbook/collection section which is clearly not easy at all to locate, too many pictures of the designer with no clear relevancy on the bio page, the address of the store which is very difficult to view (is it my browser?) because it overlaps with the images presented of the store and to top it up, no contact information for the Deaola Sagoe team! The blog is outdated with a post on “Clan” (Deola Sagoe’s daughters’ new label) written in October 4th. Does Deola Sagoe now want to be hip and hop or exclusive and elite? I was confused why they would feature "Clan" on their blog albeit I understand the label is founded by her daughters. Anyway, moving on! So how would a would be customer get in touch? Is this information left out because they are trying to be exclusive? Plus is nothing going on at house of Deola Sagoe worth reporting to us about? Too many confusing messages sent out to customers!!

Usability: Will their customers be able to find what they need to know quickly? No! With the above in mind, I would rate the usability of this site as FAIL. All the information is presented like a maze and a business website should definitely be easy to manoeuvre and surf.

Currency: Is the information on this site up to date? The website has been stuffed with so much information that I am not sure what is new and what is old. This lack of clarity and the mixed brand messages sent out is definitely not good for the branding of Deola Sagoe. Looking at this website, one would definitely not associate the words “elegance”, “exclusivity” and “elite-ness” with this top fashion brand that commands £1,696 for a dress!

My advice to the Deola Sagoe team is to:

·    Rebrand the website to ensure that it is the ONLY website representing their brand and it is easy to use and the info is easily accessible. Also ensure it is inkeeping with the overall branding/stratgey of the brand.
·    Ensure that all the info provided is relevant, clear and concise.
·    Ensure that the images displayed tell a story and are consistent with the overall branding of the company.
·    Ensure your contact info is clearly displayed and correct to ensure that you are receiving and dealing with your customers’ queries.

First impressions are paramount on the web than in person. You know what your company offers.  You know that you are a solid business with an outstanding track record.  But, does your homepage communicate this to the rest of the world? 

It only takes 3-7 seconds for a potential client to scan the site and get a first impression of your business. If your website is unable to impress and inform the potential client of what they need within that time frame, chances of them ever coming back are very unlikely. Your website should be parallel with the personality of your brand, displaying your top qualities.

Take a few seconds and evaluate your own web site.

The other website could not be accessed. I am wondering why there are 2 sites for this exclusive design brand?

All images from

Follow me on Twitter: @Brownschuga
Email me at:

Stay tuned!

Friday, December 2, 2011


Good morning blogsville. Today I would like to bring to you a little (but very important) topic I have been reading on.
The post on today will focus on the importance of an appropriate logo in your branding strategy.
Your business logo is only one piece of your branding strategy. It is a symbol that can provide consumers with instant and powerful brand recognition of your business and the services or products that you offer.
Before you begin creating your logo make sure that you have developed your brand strategy. Why you ask? Your logo is like an unspoken advert for your company, it precedes your business and overall it represents what you are about.

Without a strategy behind it, a logo can put across the wrong message and in return limit your company’s growing opportunity. You want to keep your brand message consistent to help increase consumer recognition and keep the sales alive!
  • The mission of your logo is to portray the values and goals of your company. Make sure that these are clearly established before venturing out to find a logo designer or doing it yourself.
  • Be clear about the message that you want your brand to convey so that your logo can clearly reflect that message. You must have a strong association between your brand and your logo. Remember it is only one piece of your branding strategy but a very important one, so get it right!
  • Your logo should reflect professionalism and growth no matter how small your company is. It should be a strong balanced image with no little extras that clutter its look. 
  • If you are designing your logo in-house to save money be sure to test your efforts with your friends, family or inner circle first before going live with the design.
  • Make sure that the logo you select is not dated but can be used effectively year after year. It should be distinctive and bold, making it easy to see at a glance. Keep in mind it is how consumers will recognise your company!
Confident branding and a strong branding strategy uses design to communicate a message that attracts the target audience that you want to attract - a message that creates confidence in your brand while differentiating between you and your competitors.
Does your logo fulfill this mission? What does your logo say about you?
Watch out for my next post where I will be analysing some logos in the African fashion industry.
Get in touch me at or follow my ramblings on Twitter @Brownschuga.
Stay fashionable!
Research and image source: online

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Hello peeps, how's the going? For those launching new businesses or keeping the existing ones going strong, I hope my posts are educational! If you need any help, please do not hesitate to get in touch! Contact info, below this post.

So today, my focus will be on analysing a great footwear brand by the name of Mo'Saique. I am still to own a pair *wink* hopefully sooner rather than later because I already have a deep love relationship with one design!

Afua Dabanka was born to Ghanian parents in Bochum, Germany and after gaining a degree in business administration followed by years of working as a banker in the City of London, decided to embark on her long term dream of owning her own footwear label, Mo’Saique was launched in 2011.

The Mo’Saique woman expects excellence rather than is surprised by it. She is a woman who values classics but still craves the captivating factor.

Mo’Saique is a fusion of cultures, Germany’s clean-cut silhouettes and Ghana’s vibrant colours and prints and more. Future expansion for the label includes women’s handbags and a capsule men’s collection.
Marketing Mix: What is it?
The term "Marketing Mix" was coined in 1953 by Neil Borden in his American Marketing Association presidential address. The marketing mix is a broad concept which includes several aspects of marketing which all inquire to obtain a similar goal of creating awareness and customer loyalty. It forms the entire promotional campaign for any brand. The marketing mix is not only an important concept, but a guideline to reference back to when implementing the price, promotion, product, and distribution. Other components of this mix includes planning, branding, packaging, display, distribution channels, personal selling, advertising, servicing, and physical handling.

Marketing Mix: the 4 P's!
  • Product
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Place

Product: Classic, sophisticated and luxurious soft leather shoe collections beautifully presented in shoe boxes, with a touch of femme fatalism and a hint of Africa all manufactured on a very small scale (I can testify to that!!) to allow for exclusivity and in keeping with the brand’s positioning. In a market saturated with luxurious and affordable mass produced footwear, the Mo’Saique brand differentiation is evident in its branding – the decision of the designer to allow only for a small handful of women to own her shoes (certainly a great marketing technique in the brand’s favour!), the use of the name “Mo’Saique” which is strong and unforgettable, the use of the West African “Aya” fern symbol - used to symbolise endurance, perseverance and resourcefulness – the company’s true meaning, combined with the overall personable character of the designer and the added benefit of an excellent one to one customer/designer relation. These all ensure to set aside this footwear brand from the rest in the market. 

Price: The Mo’Saique shoes are for women who strive for excellence, understated luxury and are seen to be more private and eccentric. The Mo’Saique shoes speak a thousand words and as such they are not budget priced! Priced between £150-£400, they are definitely more affordable and more reasonable compared to the Louboutins, Rossis, Sandersons and the Choos out there!

  • Advertising: The brand has yet to create advertising campaigns however it seems that being new on the market, the designer is content to keep their advertising based on word of mouth and the use of social and online mediums for now.
  • Public Relations: The brand has been featured in various online sites such as,,,,, etc and partnered with Adiree luxury production label at the 2011 Africa Fashion Week New York show.
  • Personal Selling: A befitting one day pop up boutique on the 2nd of November 2011 in London’s trendy East End area. The space was transformed into a showroom, filled with beautiful shoes displayed in a gallery setting with an area dedicated for fittings and purchasing. Also on the night was music, drinks, canapés and to top it up mini cupcakes filled up the hungry buyers!
  • Sales Promotion: This was available on the night of the pop up and only available on some designs with up to 50% off!! Certain shoe sizes were totally sold out!

Place: The consumer can easily purchase the shoes from their clean cut, easy to manoeuvre website Eventually having worldwide stockists should be on their marketing list to grow the brand’s image and make it more accessible thus gaining/entering new markets.

Some images of/associated to the brand below.

The "Aya" Fern symbol from West Africa found on Mo'Saique shoes

My ultimate to die for Mo'Saique shoes!

So there goes my post! The Mo'Saique brand is so far the only start up brand I have come across who truly knows/understands their target market and what their needs are and is creating one off pieces to meet/satisfy these needs.

All images/research from online and via brand website
I am available at or follow my ramblings on Twitter @Brownschuga.
Stay Fah-schyonable!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Good morning fashionable peeps! Hoping you are all good!

The next label to be featured on the blog today will be Mustafa Hassanali.

My main aim for focusing on the branding and marketing side of the African fashion and beauty labels is to 1) Gain an understanding and increase my knowledge on this field.  2) Create a reference point for all these new brands cropping up every day within the industry thereby giving them tips on how to brand their business as well as show existing ones what their competitors are doing to enable them to also focus on developing a strong branding and marketing strategy which should grow their brand.

I only ask of you 3 things! Please read, share and comment (or drop me feedbacks at ).

Brand Bio:
Founded in 2005, Mustafa Hassanali Couture?* is renowned for its elegance, style, flamboyancy, glamour and glitz that has made it one of the most sought after labels in Tanzania and Eastern Africa.

Most of the pieces are made from Khanga, Kitenge, Bazein as well as other fabrics including chiffon, lace, silk and organza.

The Mustafa Hassanali designs reflect the deeply embedded cultural heritage of Tanzanian society along with avant-garde, hip and contemporary styles.

*Note: unsure if the label name should be Mustafa Hassanali or Mustafa Hassanali Couture? The outward perception of a brand is paramount and this is heavily influenced by its branding strategy. The MH** team need to decide what the brand name should be and ensure it appears correctly whenever the brand is mentioned or talked about in any medium (see below notes on brand identity).

Designer Bio:
Mustapha’s love for fashion was incited at the age of 6 when he became fascinated by stitching, an insight made possible by his mother. He would initially use the remaining remnants of his mother’s fabrics to recreate his own unique pieces and then at a later age, he acquired a doll and went on to create fashion pieces for the doll.

He is a qualified medical doctor who whilst at medical school juggled these two opposite sides of himself so soundly that he gained his doctor’s license and has gone on to emboss his name on the African fashion cornerstone.

Brand Personality:
“Flamboyant Chic”

Brand Target Market:
Independent women aged say 20-65 are the ones who love my clothing. They love to feel feminine and gorgeous; my clothing makes them feel a million dollars. (Mustapha Hassanali).

Brand Image:
Traditional – Fusion of Eastern African fabrics
Feminine – Fluidity
Flamboyant – Vibrant/Colourful shades

How does Mustafa Hassanali add Value?
The MH brand was given a mega boost when world renowned supermodel Naomi Campbell wore one of their dresses for her Fashion for Relief event held in Tanzania in 2009.

From the lack of information available reporting on this association, it very well seems that the Mustafa Hassanali PR camp failed to capitalise on this unique opportunity to get interests and coverage from major worldwide publications.

PR should be used to keep the association and communication of your brand to your target market. Celebrity association like this will not only make your regular clients to continue to believe more in your brand but will also drive potential clients to become regulars. This will therefore increase sales volume which is very important for the positive growth of a business.

This was definitely a big opportunity for the Mustafa Hassanali brand to gain new territories by entering the minds of fashionable leading ladies who constantly grace red carpets and magazine front covers all over the world.

If Naomi Campbell is able to wear a Mustafa Hassanali dress so could Sarah Jessica Parker, the queen of fashion trendsetting! Imagine a Mustafa Hassanali dress on a scene of Sex and the City! Major product placement for the brand, major recognition, major boost and overall major sales! For any brand development, this is paramount.

The main headquarters being situated at Kilimani Road, Dar Es Salaam, seems to be an affluent area with offices, private resorts and even embassies. This rather exclusive address adds value to the brand as the Mustafa Hassanali clients in Tanzania are wives and affiliates of top government officials and wealthy Tanzanians/Eastern Africans.

Nonetheless, the Mustafa Hassanali label needs major re branding to ensure that every aspect of the label fits well with the overall image of high end luxury that it is appearing to be in their design pieces.

Competitive Advantage:
Brands create competitive advantage by perceiving or discovering new and better ways to compete in an industry and bringing them to the market. In the fashion industry, brands rely heavily on using their image to differentiate themselves from their competition.

Differentiation Strategy:

How is MH differentiating itself from its competitors?
The idea of fusing East African fabrics with mainstream fabrics gives the MH brand a certain degree of separation however with other Eastern African designers on the rise such as Chichia London; this differentiation will become questionable and will not create a real differentiation from its competitors.

What is also evident in MH pieces is the touch of Asian influence. Mustapha then needs to now strengthen this influence to ensure that the MH pieces are recognisable wherever they are seen. He also loves to accentuate and show off the female body in his fluid dresses so again a real focus on his cut and the parts of the female body he loves to accentuate in his dresses should give MH some differentiation from its competitors.

Celebrity Endorsement
So far Naomi Campbell has been the only mainstream celebrity to be seen in Mustafa Hassanali.

There is still a lot of work that needs to be done here in terms of rigorous advertising and promotion of the label to bring it at a level where some targets in mainstream society who are seen to be influential are “papped” or seen in an MH piece. Should the label need to add value to its branding, this is definitely one way to go.

Advertising and promotion
Advertising can be defined as a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products or services with the desired result being to drive consumer behaviour. In 2010 alone, more than USD 500,000,000 was spent on advertising worldwide. How much this relates to Africa and indeed the African fashion industry is questionable.

Various traditional media include mass media such as newspaper, magazines, television, radio, outdoor advertising (bill boards) and direct marketing. New media refers to online and text messages.

What Methods of Advertising and Promotion does MH employ?
The MH brand have been heavily relying on social mediums sites (Twitter, Facebook) which is understandably the most cost effective and direct marketing strategy of the moment. They have been featured in some blogs (Shadders, FashionFad, Afromix) and online magazines (Ladybrille, Bella Naija, Haute Fashion Africa) – most of these being very popular instruments within the African entertainment and fashion industry.

Nevertheless, almost all the online postings on the MH brand were mostly picture coverages of participation at fashion events with some extracts of the bio copied directly from the website. Whilst this is okay, it does not really provide an in-depth insight into the MH label itself. There is no information about the future direction of the label, no plans or strategies for growth, nothing!

The MH team have not yet realised the viral potential of the World Wide Web it seems and are not doing enough to add value to the brand and market it to target consumers outside of Tanzania. There is still an element of “emerging” from this label which for a label that has been around for 6 years, it should be more ahead on its marketing and branding strategies than what it is at present.

Jewel by Lisa is a great example of a label that is determined to stand and be noticed amongst the many fashion labels in Africa and winning the designer of the year award at Africa Fashion Week 2011 proves the status of the brand as well as gives us a glimpse into the future of the fashion house. The MH team could do with researching the JBL brand as a case example for their growth purposes.

What other means of advertising and promotion could they employ?
What seems to be lacking within the African fashion and beauty market is their emphasis on advertising and promotion. Whilst some brands are making the effort to look for alternative ways to reach their target markets and expose themselves, most are still doing nothing and/or are relying heavily on word of mouth or only social networking sites.

The latter is where the MH brand is. The team need to do a lot more in terms of developing and implementing their advertising and promotion strategies. They need to understand the importance of PR and use every opportunity that comes their way to the advancement of the label.

The team has to go back to their drawing board and firstly; build up an image for their brand so it becomes easy for them to advertise and market that image. Secondly; they need to ensure 100% promotion of the brand to gain major recognition outside Tanzania.

The tools they could then use to advertise the brand for now are:-

  • Online media: The viral nature of the World Wide Web means it is a very essential and cost effective medium to promote a new brand and enter a new demographic or targeted segment of the consumer chain. The label has just taken part in the Fashion for Business event in Angola and this could be the gateway to showcasing the collection from that event by sending a press release and at the same time getting the head designer, Mustapha, to talk about the label and its future plans. Since as the label is widely interested in social issues in Tanzania, this is a chance for them to use the media to shout about their CSR projects and make known their contribution to their society. Online mediums to target are: Bella Naija, Haute Fashion Africa, Shadders, African Fashion Guide, Ladybrille, One Nigeria Boy etc.
  • Fashion Publications: fashion magazines inform target readers about products, services and new brands in the market. It is a cost effective way for a new brand to enter the minds of target consumers in other territories and boost sales and brand recognition.The label has just been featured on a poll in the New African Woman magazine which is now a bi monthly and since as it has a huge African following, they could target the magazine for a solo feature on the label and its head designer. Another magazine would be FAB, FabAfriq, South African publications such as Elle, Cosmopolitan. Nigerian (the biggest African consumer market) magazines such as Genevieve, True Love, etc
  • Product placements – is when a product or brand is embedded in entertainment and media. Nigeria being the biggest consumer market in Africa is the ideal place to implement a branding/marketing strategy. What MH could do here is provide some dresses for some leading actresses in the Nollywood arena since as this is Africa's biggest export in film production. Stephanie Okereke, Ini Edo, Mona Lisa Chinda, Uche Jumbo are leading ladies the brand could consider.
  • Celebrity branding – is a type of advertising focuses upon using celebrity power, fame and popularity to gain recognition for their products. The brand specifically pays the celebrity to be seen in their product. In this case, the right celebrity has to be vetted to ensure that they are in keeping with the primary focus of the brand. I would suggest Nonhle Thema, the South African presenter who is very popular within the South, East and Western Africa, Kate Mensah, past winner of Face of Africa or they could take it a step further and raise the profile of the brand by going for internationally renowned models such as Alek Wek or Ubah Hassan who has fronted Ralph Lauren campaigns.

By increasing its advertising and promotion mediums, the MH brand should definitely become more visible and become more of a recognised brand in the target consumer’s mind. It can also enable the MH brand to enter new market territories which will eventually boost sales.

Product distribution is one of the four elements of the marketing mix. It is the organisation or a set of organisations (go-betweens) involved in the process of making a product available for use by a consumer.

From my research, it seems there are no distributors as yet for the MH brand.

This lack of retailers hinders sales and hinders brand visibility. The target consumer is not aware of the brand nor of their products and therefore cannot translate this recognition into sales which then means the brand  cannot achieve growth within the consumer market.

This has got to be a top priority for the brand to get resellers in strategic territories. East (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda), South (South Africa, Zimbabwe), West (Ghana, Nigeria), Middle East, Asia, Europe and US.

There is a need to stress that the importance of a functional website to any business is paramount. It is the first point of contact between your brand and potential customers. It advises (about brand), connects (contacts), displays (products – collections) and informs (events/press) the public about your associations.

The label’s website is overall very poor. It does not represent the quality of the fashionable pieces they create nor does it help to promote the high end appeal of the brand.

The pictures on the homepage should be removed, instead, they need to hire a top model and recreate a high end photo shoot that will truly mirror the image of the brand. The “about us” page needs to focus more on the brand itself and not on the designer and what shows he has participated in. The “media page” should focus more on providing the public with magazine features to add appeal to the brand’s image.

The website needs re-branding. It needs a structure, the information presented needs to be relevant and be consistent with the brand’s image.

A new look website that is clean and carefully designed to ensure that the surfing experience is enjoyable and easy for their clients is highly needed.

Where can the MH brand go from here?
These are my ideas for re-branding which is essentially needed before the brand can move forward.


  • Identity: the outward expression of a brand includes name, trademark, communications and visual appearance. This reflects how the owner of the brand wants the consumer to perceive the brand. Effective brand names build a connection between the brand personality as it is perceived by the target audience and the actual product/service. The brand identity needs to focus on authentic qualities – real characteristics of the value and brand promise being provided and sustained by organisational and production characteristics.
  • Create a brand image: this is a symbolic construct created within the minds of people, consisting of all the information and expectations associated with a product, service or the company providing them. This is more psychological and is developed over time through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme, and is authenticated through the consumers’ direct experience.
  • Create a brand personality: the way that a brand speaks and behaves. It is nothing but the personification of a brand and is the result of all the consumer’s experiences with the brand. It develops brand equity, it sets the brand’s attitude and it is a key input into the look and feel of any communication or marketing activity by the brand. This personality will become unique and long lasting.
  • Create a brand experience for their target market: this is the brand’s actions perceived by their target market. It is what happens each time a consumer is exposed to a company’s efforts to communicate or fulfill its brand promise. It can also be thought of as the total sum of all the consumer’s interactions with the brand. The 4 key areas that create brand experience are: Products, Environment (physical surroundings, in MH’s case their headquarters in Kilimani Road if they conduct sales here), Information (what is communicated and how? What impression does it leave to the consumer?), Behaviour (personal interaction between the consumer and the person who represents the brand). Brand communication must be consistent, both in form and content. And all personnels should be trained to behave consistently towards the customer in every interaction. This consistency must be maintained over time, or customers will become confused or feel uncomfortable.
  • Brand management: this seeks to make the product or services relevant to the target consumer. It includes developing a promise, making that promise and maintaining it. It means defining the brand, positioning the brand and delivering the brand. It makes customers committed to your business. A strong brand differentiates its products from the competitors and it gives a quality image to the business.

Overall, there is a lot of work that the Mustafa Hassanali team have to do in relation to rebranding the label to ensure that every aspect of the brand fits one image -  the image that they want to portray of the label and the promise and experience that they want their clients to have when they come in contact with the label.

By focusing on the all the aspects I have listed above, the brand should thereafter enlist the services of a good PR agent to communicate their brand to the consumer market.

Below are some of the images from the "Rosa Nera" collection previewed at the Fashion Business Angola show in Luanda this year.

Mustapha Hassanali (designer/owner) with Naomi Campbell at the Fashion for Relief show in Tanzania in 2009

So, there goes my second analysis. One last thing I would like to mention to all fashion designers and beauty label owners is, please, please, please, TALK about your brand!! The African fashion and beauty industry being on the developping side is still lacking in availability of relevant information for analytical purposes. The main source of information is online so please TALK, TALK, TALK some more about the growth of your brand and its future.

**MH = Mustafa Hassanali
All images from Facebook and by Simon Deiner (SDR)

Follow me on twitter: @Brownschuga

Until the next post!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Good day peeps, hope the day has been great!

If you have not heard it before, let me tell you that fashion is such a fickle industry!! A good knowledge of marketing goes a long way. You don't need to go as far as taking courses to succeed in the marketplace, but you need to have a solid understanding of the basics of marketing. A brand can be the best thing since slice bread in one day and out the next and so goes the talent and reputation of the team behind the brand. Just look at John Galliano and that should tell you something!

How can a fashion brand survive long enough then to establish growth within the market?

In this post I will be looking at some marketing strategies that can enable a womenswear brand for example to have some growth within the African fashion industry.

Firstly, let’s start with the marketing mix – Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. I am also going to look at how people can affect your market penetration.

Mainstream fashion is dominated by seasonal changes and so fashion styles can be incredibly short-lived due to the ever changing trends in fashion. In the African fashion industry however, our seasonal occurrence is very different from the mainstream and thus it is very difficult for our fashion brands to totally capitalise on the fashion trends like their mainstream counterparts.

To develop a brand and achieve market penetration it is essential therefore that the team behind the brand is consistently able to create its own future trends and be original in the look that they are trying to achieve/create. The major issue within the African fashion market right now is the lack of originality and creativity. The fashion industry may regurgitate what has been done before, that is true, but what makes it new is the approach, the creativity and the reasoning behind the creation.

The company must ensure that its target clients’ needs are met, the values and primary objectives of the company is also being demonstrated throughout.

If the target consumers are teenagers, then the team must know that African teenagers from wealthy families as well as those living abroad are highly attuned to the ever changing fashion trends more than ever before. They also have a highly disposable income and are heavily influenced by the celebrities and popular culture. So, they will need to develop products that are comparable in quality to those found abroad and their marketing techniques must be up to par as well.

To achieve market penetration it is necessary that the brand’s pricing structure is consistent with the quality of its products. For example, you should not produce a dress without lining, without any evidence of any major pattern/cut/thought put into the dress; as they call it in Cameroon “cut am nail am” and then charge £100 for it and expect someone to pay for it. This is absurd! Let your pricing be realistic and in keeping with your target market. Let your pricing be in keeping with the cost of production. Cheap fabric + cheap labour = cheap asking price in my opinion.

Know who your customers are and keep your asking price to what they can afford.

How can you know about your target markets’ affordability? Market research! Do not just talk to your circle of friends, venture out of it to get a general picture for your pricing strategy.

Naturally, a brand’s place = location is a key marketing element.

Today, shopping experience is a leisure activity. You must intend to facilitate customers’ brand expectations and ideally even try to surpass them. A little creativity should be injected into how the fashion items are displayed in a shop for example.

For those brands who can afford a physical space, a prime location should be a must. It must be accessible, convenient, with ample parking around, good road, it must also provide an “experience” for its target customers as well as contain the right socio-economic demographic mix.

Target spaces include high streets in affluent areas – Lekki, Victoria Island (Nigeria), Bonapriso, Akwa, (Cameroon), malls (Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Uganda) etc

For those brands that cannot afford a physical space, an online presence is a must. You cannot expect to grow a brand without a functional website. So therefore, building an online presence that consistently reproduces your brand, products and service levels as if it were a physical store is a major priority and boost.

The shop front, window area, interior decoration, lighting, layout, signage, sales literature, and staff behaviour and appearance all play a major role in attracting the right consumer, enticing them into the store and encouraging them to browse through the items, ask questions and make a purchase.

The overall aim is to recreate a consistent brand experience for your customers and prospects. Consistency breeds expectation, familiarity and confidence in a brand. African shoppers now demand and expect a consistent brand experience so please ensure this is at the top of your priority list.

What could you do to make shopping at your establishment an experience?

  • Run regular out of hours champagne (or wine) and canapés fashion events which are invitation only. This builds on the luxury/indulgence experience which is associated with premium fashion retailing.
  • Offer a “loyalty lounge/corner” with beautifully upholstered sofas and complimentary refreshments and even discounts for multi buys, which can act as a meeting point or refuge from the high street for loyal customers and tempt them to purchase multi items.
  • Sip and learn events – this can act as a great way to advise your customers about the production steps of the items you make for example. What types of fabrics are used, why certain stitches are used on the pieces and how it affects or improves durability, what they could do to ensure that they get the most out of the items they purchase from you (washing/wearing tips). This improves the customer/brand relationship.

To ensure you penetrate the market and develop your brand will require for you to develop key promotional strategies which may include the following:-

Public Relations: PR
A good PR agency with a proven track record and knowledge about the African fashion market is essential however you will need to pay a hefty sum as their services won’t be cheap. You could also use a not so experienced (emerging) PR consultant or agency that are aware of what they need to do and have the knowledge too.

A good PR agency/consultant will have the knowledge and direct relationships with trade, editors and fashion writers/critics who influence the industry and consumer behaviour.

Together you need to:

  • Agree on the messages that reflect the brand.
  • Agree on how to communicate these messages out to the consumer and channel partners.
  • Look at suitable media channels that you want to target and their target audience.
In the UK market for example, targeting magazines with large black readership such as New African Woman, FAB Magazine, Black Hair and Beauty, Pride Magazine, is a must. Also magazines such as Marie Claire (SA), Glamour (SA) and Elle (SA) are advisable. Also, nothing should stop you from venturing your brand outside of your comfort zones – ie, contacting mainstream magazines for a feature/cover.

PR is an excellent tool for building a brand, raising awareness and it can be critically important in crisis limitation should a brand run into trouble for example.

A coherent advertising strategy that is consistent with the brand’s message and desired objective is needed alongside a solid PR strategy too.

What are needed are the segmentation of the target audience and an identification of the products, media and message for delivery and measurement. You will also need suitable advertising agencies and media buyers that can develop inspiring, engaging and informative campaigns that attract the target markets and attain results.

African fashion brands need to start developing integrated campaigns that repeatedly reinforce the brand’s messages via the different mediums available. I would like to see a Jewel by Lisa or Imane Ayissi, Mustapha Hassanali ad campaigns around London or Paris and even Douala and Accra! These brands are heavy weights within the African fashion market and need to uphold this image which they have created for themselves.

Sales Promotion:
Developing a sales promotion strategy will be another key element of your brand building/market penetration strategy. This strategy might include the development and launch of new product lines for customers to try and retailers to stock and promote.

Other sales promotions might include competitions, one day sales and free gifts. The company could also provide point-of-sale materials and special promotions for its retailers’ network, for example.

Packaging is also part of the brand experience. It offers an excellent opportunity to further differentiate the brand and product lines from those of the brand’s competitors.

The packaging can communicate facts about the quality of production or reinforce brand messages about indulgence and luxury. Materials such as soft wrapping paper, ribbons, and small decoration balls could be used to give the presentation that added umph.

The company logo or name, website or contact info should always be seen on the packaging in my opinion as this is a great and free way to advertise your brand to the public.

As ecological issues are ever-more on the consumers’ minds, it might be that the company uses recycled materials to produce the packaging, and publishes its “green” credentials as well as other marketing and sales materials.

Probably one of the most critical factors in achieving brand recognition and success is the people you employ and choose to work with. Developing excellent working relationships with third party suppliers and service providers is vital in making or destroying your business. Your brands reputation might often be in the hands of an individual or company outside of your own organisation.

Be keen to develop and grow your brand because how your company recruits, trains, supports, pays, incentivises and disciplines staff will all be critically important to your company’s ultimate success or failure.

The company’s frontline staffs are the face and living embodiment of the brand. How they interact with the customers, their product knowledge, and speed of service, attitude and demeanour will be almost as important as how well the products perform. Ultimately the customers are buying more than just a product; they are buying a brand experience, a life style statement, a luxury, indulgence or fantasy. Therefore ensure you are investing the right amount of time in developing your staffs and if the customer service I see in Cameroon represents those in most African stores or boutiques then a lot has to be invested in customer relation training. Also ensure your staff feel valued and do reward them for their loyalty and hard work.

To ensure that everyone within the company and all the channel partners are completely aligned with your brand promises and how they deliver them consistently will require that the company invests in a coherent, continuous internal marketing and communications strategy.

Stay fashionable!
(various online research. Pic from online)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Hello peeps, hope you are having a fabulous week thus far. Today I would like to bring to you my first fashion brand analysis. I hope it is insightful and I also hope that this blog can become a reference point to all those fashion brands cropping up everyday in the African fashion industry. A lot has to be done on the branding and marketing of these labels and first and foremost they need to be considered as a business in order for these designers to invest the time and money in developping a branding and marketing strategy for growth purpose.

Please read and I do appreciate feedbacks!

The brand I am going to look at today is Jewel by Lisa. This brand has not been going for that long but within this period it has managed to penetrate and position itself into the minds of fashionistas in Nigeria, South Africa, UK, US, in short - worldwide!!
Brand Bio:
Created in 2005, Jewel by Lisa is a luxury fashion brand with a strong clientele that creates lifelong treasures encouraging its clients to wear over and over again.

Their goal is to cater to the Nigerian market, creating desirable, one-of-a kind luxury pieces while establishing itself as an international label.

It remains one of the true brands that people respect for re-inventing Ankara textiles into covetable pieces.

Designer Bio:
In 2005 Lisa Folawiyo a law graduate from the University of Lagos, Nigeria; with no formal fashion education and her team of expert craftsmen stormed onto the Nigerian fashion scene with Jewel by Lisa.

Brand Personality:
“International Chic”

Brand Target:
The woman who wears Jewel by Lisa can be described as “a stylish, confident, city chic woman with a wardrobe filled with desirable eclectic pieces picked up from her travels; her youthful exuberance speaks effortless and unrehearsed style. She also understands fashion. (According to Lisa Folawiyo).

Brand Image:
One of a kind pieces - luxury
Intricate workmanship – quality
Handcrafted - luxury

How does Jewel by Lisa add Value?
By associating itself with many renowned international urban and mainstream stars as mentioned below. With the buying public striving hard to emulate what their adored celebrities are wearing or buying, it is evident that celebrity endorsement certainly adds value to a brand. However, the brand has to carefully vet the celebrities who are seen in their items so as to not lower the brand reputation.

Taking part in the debut Arise Africa Fashion Week in South Africa, New York Fashion Week as well as an exhibition at Paris Fashion Week, also adds value to the brand as the target demographic for the magazine and shows are women who are interested in high end fashion (and usually have the income to go with it!).

The main headquarters being situated at Ribadu Street, Lagos, which seems to be an affluent area with offices, swanky restaurants and private hospitals, adds value to the brand as the rather exclusive nature of the area sits perfectly with the branding of the label as one which is exclusive but yet affordable and attainable.

Competitive Advantage:
Brands create competitive advantage by perceiving or discovering new and better ways to compete in an industry and bringing them to the market. Thus a brand’s relative position within an industry is given by its choice of competitive advantage (cost leadership vs. differentiation) and its choice of competitive scope. Competitive scope distinguishes between brands targeting broad industry segments and those focusing on a narrow segment.

Fashion brands rely heavily on using their image to differentiate themselves from their competition.

Differentiation Strategy:
How is JBL thus using its brand’s image to differ itself from its competitors?

In the African fashion market, what is truly lacking with most of the brands is the perceived uniqueness existing in mainstream that allows one label to differ itself from another.

For the haute couture connoisseurs, it is very easy for example for them to tell a Chanel fashion piece from a Prada piece.


In my opinion, the amount of years these labels have been in existence has enabled them to totally carve a niche for themselves in the market. Chanel was founded in 1922 and has been going strong since with Karl Lagerfeld at the helm appointed since 1983. Prada on the other hand too was founded in 1913 with Miuccia Prada as the head designer since 1978. The continuity of both brands’ image has been kept through and the brand philosophy continues to run through the way the business is developped.

In the African fashion market, the brand differentiation is debatable however some of the existing brands are taking notice and are looking for ways to bring out this differentiation. It is now easy to tell a Christie Brown piece from an Eki Orleans for example.

JBL have also followed suit in creating a unique selling point for their brand. The team have taken to producing their own fabric which definitely gives the brand perceived uniqueness and creates a competitive advantage within the industry.

Product design:
The quality and upmarket fabrics used in creating Jewel by Lisa pieces puts emphasis on the brand’s desire to set itself apart from the rest and become a luxury yet affordable brand.

Within six years Lisa has perfected the art of turning Ankara into a coveted luxury wear through the embellishment of the fabric with sequins, Swarovski crystals, and beads.

This labour intensive production (it apparently takes up to 120 hours to make one JBL piece!) and only use of high quality embellishments demonstrates the label’s continuous strife to not compromise itself but to uphold the quality and luxury attributed to the brand.

Celebrity Endorsement:
A favourite of celebrities including E! News correspondent Catt Sadler, Beyoncé, Kelis, Eve, Solange Knowles, Tasha Smith, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Kendall Jenner and Nneka. Also top fashion models including Freha Beja Erichsen, Liya Kebede, Alek Wek, and Oluchi have also been seen wearing Jewel by Lisa’s pieces.

Advertising and promotion:
The main tool used to inform the public about the existence of a product or service is by advertising and promotion. In 2010 alone, more than USD 500,000,000 was spent on advertising worldwide. However, I wonder how much this figure relates to Africa and especially the African fashion industry.

As such, advertising can therefore be defined as a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products or services with the desired result being to drive consumer behaviour.

Various traditional media include mass media such as newspaper, magazines, television, radio, outdoor advertising (bill boards) and direct marketing. New media refers to online and text messages.

What Methods of Advertising and Promotion does JBL employ?
The advertising method widely used to put the JBL brand image out there has been through the use of online mediums such as the social mediums (Twitter, Facebook) – the most cost effective and direct marketing strategy of the moment, blogs (One Nigerian Boy, Africa Style Daily, Style House Files) and online magazines (Ladybrille, Bella Naija, Haute Fashion Africa) – all these are very popular instruments within the Nigerian (African) entertainment and fashion industry.

It is no doubt that the JBL camp have more than clocked on the importance of and the viral nature of the world wide web in keeping their brand constant in the minds of their target market and in reaching and making contacts with new territories and markets. As Lisa commented, Jewel by Lisa’s goal is to cater to the Nigerian market whilst establishing itself as an international brand. Being ‘seen’ within the popular Nigerian blogs for example enables JBL to be on the right path to meeting its primary goal.

Using these mediums as well as creating its own branded short films such as “Life as a Jewelete”, featuring in high quality fashion events such as New York and Paris Fashion Weeks, appearing in African publications such as Arise, Fab, True Love, ThisDay Style, Genevieve, Marie Claire(SA), Glamour (SA) coupled with features in a North American publication “IN New York magazine” and New York Post (when you talk fashion, you talk New York!), featuring on the new BBC online's "African Dream" series as well as appearing in the very popular Studio 53 showcased across Africa and the world over enables JBL to fulfil its primary goal of amassing a following within the Nigerian market while at the same time slowly establishing itself as a luxury international brand.

What other means of advertising and promotion could they employ?
What seems to be lacking again within the African fashion and beauty market is the lack of branded adverts and product placements. Whilst some brands are making the effort to look for alternative ways to reach their target markets and expose themselves, most are still doing nothing and/or are relying heavily on word of mouth or only social networking sites. Whilst this is great, it is definitely  not the only way to go.

Some suggestions which could be suitable for JBL’s image are as per below.
  • Television advertising (branded short videos are shown on tv). If JBL is not already doing so maybe this could be their biggest form of promotion for the brand. If they started airing in Nigeria and then slowly moving the advert to other strategic parts of Africa such as South Africa, Ghana, North Africa and then slowly to the Middle East and then Europe (UK, France, Netherlands, Italy – areas with large African populations).
  • Infomercials – a long format television commercial typically 5 minutes or longer could be used to promote a new collection for example. The main objective in this would be to create an impulse purchase, so that the consumer sees the presentation and then can immediately buy the product through the company website maybe. This could also work well during a JBL sale.
  • Product placements – when a product or brand is embedded in entertainment and media. What JBL could do here is target some of the leading Nollywood actresses with a great reputation such as Omotola Jalade Ekeinde or Genevieve Nnaiji and dress them up (or provide some outfits) in big budget films for example Ije and Mirror Boy. JBL could also have the stars wear their accessories or have the film set decorated with some JBL soft furnishings such as their scented candles for example.
  • Billboard & Mobile Board advertising – many mainstream brands are using these to ensure they target as many people as they can. JBL could also use billboards located in an area(s) that covers their target market in Nigeria to advertise their brand. They could also use appropriate intercity buses to plug especially their J Label products which targets the poppy crowd.
  • Celebrity branding – this type of advertising focuses upon using celebrity power, fame and popularity to gain recognition for their products. The brand specifically pays the celebrity to be seen in their product(s). In this case, the right celebrity has to be vetted to ensure that they are in keeping with the primary focus of the brand. Using rising Nollywood stars, Genevieve Nnaiji or Stephanie Okereke could be ideal. For an international star, using Solange Knowles, Kim Kardashian or maybe Julia Restoin Roitfeld, could catapult the brand to another level!
At this brand's stage, the team now need to ensure that there is a greater focus on the advertising and promotion of the brand. By increasing its advertising and promotion mediums, Jewel by Lisa will definitely reap the benefits and differentiate itself from its competitors however I fully understand that funding/financial investment within African fashion brands remains one of the biggest obstacles.

Nevertheless, like with any business start up it is essential that the business owner projects its total running costs within a certain period and raises that amount or has a way to raise that amount before releasing the business to the public. Most African fashion brands throw the brand out there without having a real business focus or a realistic business plan.

Making funds available, finding investors who can inject more finance into the brand to enable them grow the brand should also be on the top of JBL's marketing list.

Product distribution is one of the four elements of the marketing mix. It is the organisation or a set of organisations (go-betweens) involved in the process of making a product available for use by a consumer.

The other three big P’s being product, pricing and promotion (to be discussed at a latter post).

Distribution is a very important component of Logistics and Supply chain management. It refers to the distribution of a good from one business onto another. It is defined as a chain of intermediaries; each passing the product down the chain to the next organisation before it finally reaches the end user or consumer. Each of the elements in these chains will have their own specific needs, which the producer must take into account, along with those of the important end user.

What is JBL’s Marketing and Distribution Channels?
The brand seems to have gone with the typical pattern of “Selective distribution” suitable especially with fashion products. This is where suitable retailers are selected to stock their product as well as items from other competitors.

Resellers currently stocking Jewel by Lisa products are:-

  • Curve – high end multi clothing boutique located in Los Angeles. It also stocks labels including DVF and Jennifer Lopez has been seen shopping there.
  • Zainab – thought to be the best kept secret in Los Angeles according to Stocks clothing and accessories by African designers including Azzedine Alaia.
  • African Mosaique – located in Jo’burg and founded by former Ethiopian model Anne Getaneh.
  • Eves Apple – an online retailer that also stock DVF, Halston etc
  • My Asho – an online store that stocks a wide range of clothing and accessories by African designers.
  • Temple Muse – located on the affluent Victoria Island in Lagos. A rather exclusive store that stocks other high end African and mainstream fashion labels.
For a brand that has been in existence for only 6 years, it is evident that Jewel by Lisa’s marketing channels are enabling the brand to slowly move into different market territories, creating a presence within that market, connecting with fashion followers and slowly building up a reputation and market share within that fashion market.

The importance of a functional website to any business is paramount. It serves as a first point of contact between your brand and potential customers. It advises (about brand), connects (contacts), displays (products – collections) and informs (events/press).

The label’s new look website depicting their autumn/winter 2011 collection completely befits its target image. Millen Magese, the Tanzanian model who is currently the face of the brand is also a perfect fit however her popularity within the target consumers’ minds isn’t as high as models such as Alek Wek, Oluchi and Liya Kebede.
The website is clean and carefully designed to ensure that the surfing experience is enjoyable and easy. Well done team JBL!!

Product Expansion:
J Label:
The J Label is a strong combination of urban cool, afro-pop, and cutting edge beautifully crafted clothes. It is affordable luxury at its best, according to Lisa.

J Label line is inspired by colour, print, pattern, lines and shapes all to bring about a fusion of African and Western fashion, which the typical JBL’s woman can relate to.

The label has realised the potential of also catering to another segment of their target market. Urban cool, afro pop, affordable fashion relates to the younger tier of the market ages 18-25.

Recently, the label has widened its business opportunities by producing its own fabrics ranging from Velvet, Crepe Silk, Satin, Chiffon, Shantung and Linen.

JBL has also ventured into making jewelled accessories such as belts, necklaces, and clutches as well as soft furnishings including scented candles.

Some pictures from the new collection fronted by Millen as below.

Their Arise press coverages.

So, there goes my analysis of the JBL brand. They are doing a lot of things right and with a greater focus on developping advertising and promotion campaigns/strategies, the sky is not even their limit! Their product expansion also shows great initiative of not focusing only on one market segment.
Overall, I am well impressed, well done team JBL!

Please do not forget to leave your feedback below or email me at
Follow me on twitter @brownschuga.
(All pictures from JBL website

Stay fashonionable