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Why Kenya rules EA Superbrands

By Independent Team

Its not what you look at; its what you look for

It is a telecom company. Customers choose it automatically over competing brands. It is on every phone service customers purchase list. It is  well, Zain.

Zain, just a year after launching itself in Africa after taking over from Celtel, has been voted the top brand in East and Central Africa, according to the latest report by Superbrands East Africa.

Superbrands East Africa is affiliated to the London-based Superbrands, which markets itself as the worlds largest independent judge of global branding.

Information on its websites says Zains brand values of radiance, heart and belonging invite viewers to look at the world around them with a fresh perspective.

According to some reports, Zains emergence as the top brand or so-called top superbrand came as a surprise to many because the brand emerged top among many pioneer brands including MTN, British Airways, Samsung, Shell and Safaricom in a regional survey that covered over 2500 consumers.

Announcing the survey last month, the Project Director of Super Brands E.A Jawad Jaffer said this years league table is a result of an independent election which took months to evaluate more than 28 different sectors.

Other mobile telephony players ranked in the survey included Vodacom TZ, MTN, Tigo and Uganda Telecom.

This is the second year Ugandan companies are being ranked by Superbrands.

Last year, eight brands in Uganda achieved the so-called Superbrands for the first time.

These included MTN Uganda, the market dominant telephony company, Bell Lager and Uganda Waragi, beer and gin products from East African Breweries Ltd, Kinyara Sugar, Splash; a beverage from Britannia Allied Industries Ltd, The New Vision, a newspaper by the New Vision Printing and Publishing Company, Mukwano, the Mukwano Group of companies that manufacture various household items and Nomi, a detergent by Mukwano Group.

The brands are selected by members of the East African Superbrands Council that has mainly branding and marketing people.

Ideally, each country is supposed to have its own Superbrands but for now East Africa is treated as one region with its council comprising mainly Kenyans.

The selection process involves short-listing key brands in the region, asking about 3,000 residents of the region to vote which of them are their best brands without prompting, and putting the finalist brands before a council of experts for final vetting.

By the organisers own admission, Super brands is not a nationwide consumer view of brands but specifically a high-level regional industry view of which brands the council perceives to outperform their peers.

This selection criteria has come under fire in the past, including claims that  it is biased.

Although the organizers have pledged to involve local partners in the selection process, the council is heavily skewed by representatives from Kenya. The Council for the Volume II East Africa region Superbrands had only one Ugandan, the director of the Uganda Investment Authority Maggie Kigozi.

Whatever your views on the superbrands, unless the skewedness in the vetting is resolved in the East Africa Region, it is important to keep in mind the winner, Zains adverts that end with the words, Its not what you look at, its what you look for.


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