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Chioma Momah: Branding Secrets From a Packet of Sugar



dreamstime_l_7603973Recently I saw an online post wondering how a cubed sugar brand had managed to retain market supremacy for over 30 years, with no adverts or rebranding. As I pondered on their business strategy the first obvious answer was that they had a enjoyed a clear monopoly before other brands came into the market as they were probably the only cubed sugar in West African markets for years.  While one may not have the good fortune to be the pioneer in a field or business we can definitely do many other things to get and maintain customer loyalty. Here are a few major lessons that will help build a successful brand.

Keep it simple
Have you ever seen someone wearing an outfit with too many contrasting bright colours and almost felt like shutting your eyes in pain? That’s what happens when you overload your logo or product design. When designing your corporate logo or brand identity try to ensure the design is aesthically pleasing with simplicity being your watchword. The fact that a brand has too much going on, may actually be a turn-off. You should consider hiring a professional to help you design something simple with the right colour combo. Truly, many times, less is more and the beauty is in keeping things simple.

Let this be your watchword. Never be tempted to allow anything below standard fall into the hands of a client even if they seem not to mind. A clear example is an experience I had with a friend who makes some of my clothes; one day I was in a hurry and after fitting an outfit that had one or two glitches I told her it was ok and I would manage it. She refused to let me take it saying she would quickly fix it as if anyone saw those flaws they would assume that was her standard. Even when you are giving away freebies make sure they are the same quality as you regular goods, as when its being assessed by the market no one will care whether it was paid for or not. When you refuse to compromise on quality people will trust your brand, remain loyal and spread the word.

Change is not always good
People trust what they know, so while some change is necessary some things are better the same. A good example is not changing quality (except if for the better). Another one is not changing your corporate logo or brand identity. If you have a corporate identity that has been working for you then re-branding may do more harm than good by causing customer confusion as they will wonder if it’s the same brand. If you must change anything listen to your heart, your customers and only change what is necessary.

Of course there are many other things you can do to grow a successful brand but these are just a few I learnt from a pack of sugar!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Chioma Momah is a lawyer, writer and inspirational parenting blogger. This mother of four is the author of the children's books “First day at the Big School” and “Fun Day at the Museum” as well as the Goals, Gratitude and Growth Journal. Chioma is also the founder of Let's Encourage A Reading Nation" (L.E.A.R.N) which is aimed at improving literacy among children. She holds an L.L.B from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, as well as an MBA from Anglia Ruskin University and an MPA from the University of Exeter (both in the UK). She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Apart from writing on her blog, she enjoys speaking on gender issues, parenting and literacy. Follow her on Facebook at Chiomah’s Blog, Instagram @chiomahmomah and read her posts on


  1. Blondie

    April 19, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    St. Louis sugar with the blue pack…never seen an advert for it but it keeps selling even with other brands now in the market.. Nice Read

  2. missjay

    April 19, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Our great st louis sugar.

  3. gbaskelebo

    April 19, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    I totally concur! especially on your third point, I/We can presently see the manifestation of that.

  4. Busarni

    April 19, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Had this discussion with my cousin some days back; no advert yet they are still making sales.

  5. Ba

    April 19, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Great points you lay out.

  6. Timi

    April 19, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Unfortunately, I also think that there just haven’t been enough well branded competitors in the market to steal share from St. Louis. Unfortunately, that breeds complacency and if another well-branded sugar company capitalizes on changing consumer tastes and stresses new benefits, we might see an easy demise in St Louis sugar. I do agree though that they have done a good job thus far.

    • Tubs

      April 20, 2016 at 7:01 am

      Yep the ones that have come usually die off within years. I think it’s the fact that they were the first entrants help.

  7. Bade

    April 20, 2016 at 1:30 am

    Poor lessons here that will run a business down if not carefully applied.

    St Louis is doing okay because
    a) sugar is a commodity. It will always be in demand, just like salt. How many sugar or salt companies advertise locally or internationally?


    b) they were the first movers in the packaged sugar market.

    Had nothing to do with marketing prowess. Distribution, maybe. But not marketing.

    • Pat

      April 20, 2016 at 8:50 am

      These are definitely not ‘poor lessons’!! They are actually very important lessons for anyone building a brand, and of course anything you learn should be ‘applied carefully’. You may want to read the article again, the author clearly acknowledged that St Louis enjoys first mover advantage. She also clearly stated that change for the better is always good! The point of the article, though, is that simplicity, consistency and quality can be assets to a brand – if you think it through and apply these strategies with a reasonable and logical approach, you will not run down your business! And it’s just consumables like St Louis that demonstrate this, other examples abound all around us – Apple products for example… very consistent and simple branding, with quality continuously improved and upgraded over time (as the author said, change for the good).

    • Bade

      April 22, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      Alright then. Good luck growing your business with these ‘secrets’.

  8. Tubs

    April 20, 2016 at 7:00 am

    I think you missed it where the writer clearly wrote they were the first to sell packed cubed sugar in west Africa for years. Also while your point about being a commodity is true I think the writer was trying to draw lessons that can be applied to any business if applied in context. Of course they can’t be true for every business but I think some of them are quite valid .

  9. nene

    April 20, 2016 at 10:18 am

    honestly, i don’t think sugar should be used as an example for branding in Nigeria or any other country. Maybe a juice/drink/water manufacturing company.

    • molarah

      April 21, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      But why not? If a sugar company has done work to distinguish itself with its branding, should it not be recognized?

  10. Chinelo

    April 24, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Nice one. Interesting write up Chioma.

  11. loretta reveals

    April 26, 2016 at 8:05 am

    There is an American saying/mantra called ‘KISS’ keep it simple and stupid. That is what does it for most things and success stories in life. Be it marketing, management, mothering, medicine, military, many more sectors too numerous to mention. With respect to this article, the Author is clearly sending that message as well. However, suffice it to say that there are peculiar variations in different areas unique to such areas or businesses. Great and a true fact one should be aware of. However, there is no need to over analyse this simple message of ‘simple does it’ and risk losing the ‘core meaning’ which is that many major brands and successes have kept it KISS. Nice and succinct write up Chioma. Keep more coming.

    • Amaka

      April 26, 2016 at 10:10 am

      Love this comment!

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