As I was sipping my delicious Moroccan Tea in a beautiful coffee shop in Marrakech on my last visit there, I started to think about what makes this country special? Why people continue coming here every year? According to the World Bank there are more than 10.5 million people visit Morocco every year. Is it the sites, the history, the people or all of that combined? You can visit other places with more ancient history, beautiful beaches and welcoming people are in most tourist friendly nations but what makes Morocco special is how all those characteristics are combined under one clear Brand.
Unlike other Arab nations Morocco is not an oil producer and has limited natural resources but what Morocco has is its culture. Its deep roots that no matter how modern it gets, still holds on to it. This is exactly what we have to think about when we talk about branding either on a personal level or organizational level. During my work as a business development consultant, I deal with lots of marketing and branding companies in the MENA region, and most of those companies look at branding as logos design, beautiful brochures and attractive websites and social media campaigns.
Unfortunately this is not enough; it’s similar to a person buying a nice suit and new wardrobe and calls it his personal brand, while they are important, they are not sufficient. Branding is about your reputation, what do you or your organization stand for? What you want to be known for? Care about? The meaning behind what you do? Morocco relies on tourism heavily for its economical well being and foreign currency income, so it positioned itself as the stable middle eastern nation that can provide history, beautiful beaches, fantastic cuisine and great desert adventure while still holding on to the authentic northern African culture with modernization.
The lessons I learned about branding on this trip are:
1. Be authentic
From the moment you enter the airport to venturing the cities you can tell the “Moroccan” brand is everywhere. The beautiful Andalusian design is what most architectural designs are based on, even modern buildings like the newly constructed mall in Marrakech has an authentic Moroccan feel to it.
As other countries push to modernize they leave behind the authentic feel to their place and start copying other places around the world blindly in every detail even down to the names of streets and squares, without trying to extract the strategic lessons of what made these countries special in the first place. Same goes for organizations and
businesses, the idea is to extract the strategic lessons from others that came before you and making it your own based on your situation and unique identity.
So when creating a brand looks at your business or yourself and asks, what is my story, my Identity? What do I want people to say when they think of me or my product or service? And Does the Image I display showcase what I stand for or not?
2. Be Design oriented
One thing you notice while visiting Morocco is the attention to details in their service presentation, starting from their famous Tea to the cuisine and finally to the buildings colors and décor. BMW chief of Design Chris Bangle said, “We don’t make cars, we make moving works of art that express the drivers love of quality”. If car companies like BMW and Ford are claiming they are in the design business than we all should be in the design business. Design brings beauty and meaning to our product or service, which differentiates us in our highly commoditized world of abundance. In the world of “ me too” products and services, design is the key to you standing out.
3. Be Consistent
There are certain expectations visitors to Morocco have and it’s clearly displayed in all their marketing and branding material targeting potential tourists. When building a brand it’s important you stay consistent with the message you are trying to portray. For example; Zeppo’s stand for excellent customer service and Nike stands for being active.
Think strategically about what ideas or principles you want to be known for and stay consistent with that message in everything you do to avoid displaying conflicting personalities.