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September 19, 2018

Sticking to strategy

AUTO-EXPRESS COMPANY MANAGING DIRECTOR MR SANDEEP SHAH(L)WITH OVERALL WINNER OF  GOLF TOP PRIZE AT KERICHO CLUB ASHISH SODHA(R)PICTURE BY SONU TANUEND
AUTO-EXPRESS COMPANY MANAGING DIRECTOR MR SANDEEP SHAH(L)WITH OVERALL WINNER OF GOLF TOP PRIZE AT KERICHO CLUB ASHISH SODHA(R)PICTURE BY SONU TANUEND

             There are many tools and processes available to leadership teams which want to strategise. So many questions to answer; so many options to expound that your strategic process often becomes an end rather than a means.

              But there’s one thing harder than coming up with a winning strategy … and that’s sticking to it. The temptation to tinker starts as soon as the ink is dry. And it is hard to resist.

               Here’s what happens if you don’t stick to your plan. First the employees to whom you sold the plan begin to ask questions. Employees like bosses who set a clear direction and explain the role they have to play. Conversely they dislike change – which always means more work, and often provokes conflict.

               Secondly, your partners roll their eyes. Those critical supporters in retail or logistics, who went out of their way to accommodate your intentions into their own plan. This is a problem because your partners should be net promoters to other parties in the business community.

                 Thirdly your customers become puzzled and unsettled. Indeed if you have created a popular brand you may find consumers actively opposing changes in strategy. Brands exist in the hearts and minds of people who buy them.

                  I reconnected recently with two brands that have stuck to their strategy.

                  Eight years ago I was privileged to work with a company that started life as a tyre dealer in Western Kenya. They had built a good business in partnership with Pirelli (which continues to this day) but aspired to their own brand success. Together we worked on a strategy for the brand AutoXpress (www.auto-xpress.co.ke).

                    One pillar of that strategy was the requirement to create highly visible tyre centres. They stuck to their plan, and now boast 29 outlets in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. They executed their brand identity to exactly the same standard in every location, which is much harder than it sounds. Now they’re taking that discipline online to create a characteristic place where customers can cost and compare, and book appointments to fit a wide range of auto accessories. They are also line - extending into more capable auto-repair centres in partnership with global leader Bosch. All of which represents innovation in line with the original strategy.

                     This past weekend I was on a ranch, re-engaging with a brand called Mara Beef. A brand in the early stages of development, adhering to the principles we originally agreed. There’s adding value: better cattle husbandry, modern abbatoir, and tasty product development. Vehicles and packaging bear a simple, strong logo that connotes healthy grass-fed beef. They have enlisted the participation of local communities.

                       Mara Beef is laying the foundations of a food brand we will come to admire in future … and sticking to its strategy.

Chris Harrison leads The Brand Inside.
 www.thebrandinside.com

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