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Fondly referred to in the industry as the “Branding Queen” Chizor Malize the CEO of Brandzone Consulting, a strategy-led brand consultancy whose branding agency develops dynamic indigenous brands while managing international portfolios, speaks with NIKE SOTADE about her passion for branding, her service as a jury member for the U.S Based REBRAND 100® Global Awards, keeping ahead in a man’s world and her work in supporting the growth of Small and Medium businesses with branding
You seem to have so much passion for the branding profession? Knowing that this practice is quite germane how did you come about it and how has your career evolved over the years?
MY background in Marketing and Communications in the early days of my career helped a lot in shaping my thoughts and passion for the practice of branding. I have worked broadly in other sectors such as payment solution as the Marketing Manager of Valucard, Nigeria’s pioneer electronic payment card product. From Valucard, I proceeded to manage the Standard Trust Bank Brand as Group Head, Branding and Communications with responsibility for the Group’s Corporate and product brands across diverse sectors. The Banking brand we creatively built into today’s UBA brand following the financial services consolidation, which has grown exponentially into over 20 countries across Africa with offices in Europe and America. I was also the Divisional Head, Marketing and Branding at Access Bank, with the responsibility of managing the Bank’s brand. Through growth and expansion, I seamlessly rolled out the Access Bank brand into several African Countries such as Gambia, Cote d’ Voire, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Rwanda, Ghana and an International branch in London, United Kingdom.
Today, at Brandzone, we create world-class solutions in Branding Strategy, Brand Design, Communications, and Digital/New Media. We have managed some of the most innovative international brands in the local market while creating and managing indigenous new brands of repute.
Among this portfolio of brands include Total, BMW, Land Rover, Qatar Airways, Heritage Bank, Fidelity Bank, Falcon Corporation, Aquila Leasing, Alphastar Paints, Virgin Forest Energy, The George Hotel and the Truck-It Brands. I would say the ultimate for me is bringing about positive transformation to the operations of the businesses we manage through our intervention through our innovative branding solutions.
You’re a brand yourself. Tell us, who’s Chizor Malize?
I am the Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Brandzone Consulting LLC. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in English Language and a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) with specialization in Marketing. I am a professional member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), London and an Executive Education alumnus of the London Business School and Columbia University, New York. I am passionate about God, l adore family/friendships and I love enterprise.
I delight in coaching and mentoring young people especially women. I am involved in a lot of “on the spot mentoring”, structured coaching and long term mentorship program that foster learning and growth. I have a number of young persons whom I help to direct and guide by drawing from my diverse experiences in entrepreneurship, corporate experience, board membership and family life. I am a fun-loving person and often described as radiant and exuding happiness and warmth.
What influenced your decision to move from paid employment to become an enterprise builder?
I believe that only you can decide the life that’s right for you. I am passionate about learning. Through God’s special gifting, I have ideas that are unconventional, I want to make things happen and I want to change the world and impact positively. To make all of these happen, you need to be in control of your life, your time and your resources. I chose the path that offers me great opportunity to maximize my potentials while impacting others and the world positively. I therefore chose to build the platforms that is, Brandzone Consulting LLC and Brand Platform, two separate organizations that enable me fulfill and live my purpose of building, creating, shaping, innovating and impacting. My vision is to leave people and the world better than I met them.
Having established Brandzone and Brandplatform, what is the difference between the two organizations?
Brandzone is the Consulting arm of our operations which helps organizations achieve their aspiration of building successful world class brands. Our mission at Brandzone is to build and manage brands as catalyst for business and economic growth. Besides revitalizing and managing existing brands, we have created some of the most innovative and dynamic new brands in Nigeria today.
BrandPlatform is an innovative knowledge-based arm of Brandzone Consulting. It is focused on fostering learning and knowledge exchange through conferences, summits, seminars and workshops. It is a groundbreaking platform that brings together industry experts and the market place to provide up to date information on the contemporary branding principles and practice that aid the growth of the branding, communications and business. Through the knowledge platform we equip and inspire Brand Managers and Brand Visioners to think, be creative and act proactively and strategically as they win markets.
Talking about BrandPlatform programmes, what are the programs in the plan for this year?
The Brand Innovation Conference 2017 comes up on October 17th and 18th,2017. The 2017 edition is organized by Brandzone in collaboration with the Centre for Values in Leadership founded by Professor Pat Utomi. The Conference theme is “BRANDING: A CATALYST FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH”. It is targeted at bringing together top policy makers, government representatives, Chief Executives of Corporations, business founders/leaders and top executives and professionals from corporations and businesses representing diverse sectors of the economy. The Chairperson of the 2017 National Branding Conference is Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Chairman First Bank of Nigeria PLC. The conference has a great line-up of other notable speakers and thought leaders from the public sector, Corporations, SMEs, entertainment, arts and lifestyle.
How have you managed to stand out in an industry dominated by men? From your wealth of experience, what does it take for a woman to succeed and stay ahead especially in our environment?
The same rule applies for success both for men and women alike. Successful leaders the world over, whether men or women, are visionary, confident, creative, emotionally intelligent and purposeful people. They never give up or quit and they create their own style.
The world has recorded many highly successful female leaders from a wide range of industries, be it enterprise, fashion, entertainment, technology and politics. These women possess some key characteristics that has enabled them to become so extraordinarily successful. Some have built and managed large and thriving business that employ thousands of professionals, inspiring their world and network year after year. Others have risen to become legends and role models for other aspiring female leaders. Like I said, the same rule applies for success both for men and women alike.
For me, I draw from my special attributes of being visionary, strategic, confident, driven, empathic, dogged and deliberate. These attributes come from God and I appreciate His special gifting.
Your appointment as the only jury member from Africa for the U.S Based REBRAND 100® Global Awards for 2016 remains quite remarkable. What were the attributes that got you on this very international pedestal?
REBRAND™, is the world’s leading brand transformation organization responsible for the REBRAND 100® Global Awards. Through the REBRAND 100® Global Awards programme it encourages the repositioning, revitalization and redesign of existing brand assets to meet business and economic goals. It is the world’s most respected juried award honouring excellence in brand transformation work, expressed through re-branding and brand redesign process.
Jury members were painstakingly selected based on their pedigree and quality of work they do in the areas of Branding in their various regions across every continent of the world. Besides our quality portfolio of brands our work in creating brand engagements between professionals and the market place through our BrandPlfrom also stood us out. As the only juror member from the entire African continent, working alongside other renown branding experts from all across the globe the experience was insightful, enlightening and rewarding. It was an extremely enriching experience that provided greater learning into what really counts and keeps brands ahead from region to region. For me, it remains an honour to serve and represent my country and continent in very impactful way.
You won the Marketing Edge Marketing and Brand Personality in Nigeria Award for 2016, how did it feel taking that covetous title?
It feels absolutely good to be recognized for the great work you do. Our mission at Brandzone is to build and manage brands as catalyst for business and economic growth. It’s interesting that the Global recognitions and awards opened the flood gate for local awards and recognition, but no matter the other in which the recognition comes, it feels great and gives a sense of fulfillment to know that your sacrifices and efforts at bringing innovation and dynamism to your profession, industry or sector is recognized and appreciated. It is quite rewarding and gratifying.
As a versatile player that has excelled in spite of the tough business environment, what are the attributes that have helped you keep ahead?
I would say audacity, optimism and excellence. Audacity because, I can be described as fearless. I am not afraid of new territories, challenges and uncertainties. I celebrate people who are defined by their courage, bravery and decisions to chase their dreams. I feel confident in the choices that I make and remain willing to face the consequences of such decisions. Excellence; discipline and dexterity play key roles in achieving excellence. They drive the level quality output by individuals, corporations and nations alike. Optimism; in difficult times some see opportunity others see calamity. I chose to see opportunities. I am optimistic about every goal I set, no matter how small or how big. These attributes are success propellers for me.
You are a strong advocate of social media engagement, what role is there for Digital Marketing today? How does it help to create opportunity for more profitable businesses?
Digital marketing usually maximizes varied platforms for engagement in terms of level of interaction between the brand and the target audience. Most brands today, tend to view social media as simply a platform to amplify their products and brand messages. However, more visionary organizations actually analyze the data obtained from social media and digital engagements with their consumers to discover new consumer trends, therefore, taking guesswork out of their business.
Digital and social media market today also provide reach and visibility to the Small and Medium sized businesses who can leverage them to showcase their offering, grow client base and make huge volume of sales and record high profits. This is something I encourage everyone to embrace. Fortunately, it is very easy to either learn to use it or get help both in terms of the social media marketing idea, design and management.
What success tips can you give to small and medium sized businesses who seek to be successful leveraging branding?
First, at Brandzone we have designed a highly specialized Branding programme specifically designed for SMEs called “SME DIY BRANDING WORKSHOP.” It is a practical, hand-on programme that provides branding tool kits for SMEs to build their brand under our expertise guidance. The full day programme is different, refreshing and result oriented.
With regards to branding tips SMEs must define their brands by having a clear vision, purpose and value proposition. The key to this is establishing what you want your brand to be known for and what differentiates your brand from other competing ones. You must develop a consistent brand message and voice by creating a unique personality around your product and service that make it easy for people to connect with. Of course, it is important that the product or service delivered is also similarly consistent to what your brand promises are.You must remind your customers about your Brand by frequently engaging with them. That is what big corporations are doing with advertising and communication. Small and medium businesses can leverage digital technology and social media to frequently engage with their market. They can use blogs, Facebooks, twitter, instagram etc. These are quite inexpensive but far reaching and high on impact.We understand that all of the above require skills to understand and execute which is the reason we have designed the SME DIY Brand Workshop to help SMEs understand and get on top of these while achieving success, growth and profitability.
Who are your female role models and why?
My mom has been my greatest influence. I grew up knowing her to be one of the strongest women of her times. She is strong, bold and ambitious. An intelligent and canny educationist, an entrepreneur and woman leader, she never tires from mentoring, molding and shaping people within her network which is extremely large and diverse. Her vision for family is unparalleled. She is a God‐fearing woman who worked tirelessly with several churches outside her local parish, bringing learning and mentoring to several women and youth who looked up to her as a sterling example for hard work, focus, drive and commitment to God.
Aside from her is Oprah Winfrey who has not only built the most successful media group in the world, but has also demonstrated her pursuit of living a purpose-filled life through all of her impact initiatives.
I was fortunate to have a pool of strong and successful female mentors early in my career in diverse areas such as business, family, spiritual and enterprise development.
Tell us about your family life?
I have been married for over two decades now. I married my childhood heartthrob and together we have three young adults who are charting their own course and striving to live fulfilled and impact-filled life. Our core principles as a family are faith in God, love, compassion and respect for others.
How do you relax?
I love to simply lounge, travel or read but the ultimate relaxation is with my family. So I take time off work periodically to spend time with my family fully. Very recently I took to gardening in pursuit of my “Live Well” concept. I am total enjoying the experience of seeing so much grow from so little but more importantly it keeps the mind, body, and soul feeling pretty good.
Source: Gurdian Woman