Sustained brand positioning to stimulate growth of UAE’s SME sector

Brand expert calls for greater international awareness about UAE’s attractive incentives for small businesses

While small and medium enterprises (SME) contribute nearly half of the UAE’s GDP, there are not enough efforts to highlight the importance and raise international awareness about the huge investment opportunities within the country’s SME sector, according to a branding expert. Recent statistics reveal that SMEs account for 46 per cent of the UAE’s GDP, while making up between 85 to 95 per cent of all businesses in the country, underscoring the SME sector’s vital role in the growth of the national economy.

The lack of sustained brand positioning initiatives for the UAE’s SME sector translates to a substantial number of missed business opportunities, particularly in the international front where gainful SME prospects are aplenty as SMEs account for 99 per cent of all international business activities and contribute 40 to 50 per cent of worldwide GDP. Moreover, the UAE’s multinational population makes it even more strategically important for SMEs to take advantage of international branding opportunities, states Ibrahim Lahoud, Director of Strategy and Brand Communication, BrandCentral.

“The UAE is well known worldwide as the home of leading multinationals; in contrast, there is much catching up to do as far as creating a strong brand identity and raising awareness about the vibrancy of the country’s SME sector are concerned. It is important to fill this gap and enable the UAE to boost its long-term growth program. SMEs, after all, are the ‘lean and mean’ pillars of the economy,” Lahoud said.

“Furthermore, I believe the unprecedented global economic challenges have opened an opportunity for the UAE to optimise the impact of its rebranding initiatives; the ongoing shake-up in the global economy has created new possibilities for the country to rise above the rest, particularly in key areas such as the SME sector. As such, it is equally important to acquire the right expertise to be able to develop a more suitable rebranding strategy and target the right regional and international audiences,” added Lahoud.

Lahoud also pointed out that a successful rebranding program will serve as an important complementary initiative to ongoing positive changes being implemented by the UAE Government to enhance the business landscape for SMEs. One of the recent government measures aimed at further stimulating SME growth was the waiver of the minimum AED 150,000 capital to start small companies in the UAE, which according to Lahoud is an important tool that will boost the UAE’s image as an attractive business destination.

Lahoud said, “The UAE can benefit from unique international branding initiatives that will help position the country as a leading SME destination. Moreover, it is the perfect time for the government to conduct a comprehensive and aggressive rebranding program as regional and international businesses are scouting for new growth opportunities in light of ongoing economic difficulties.”

Lahoud also pointed out that to a certain extent, sustained branding initiatives are more important for SMEs than for larger organisations. He noted that the latter are able to pull markets and consumers around them by the sheer size of their product and service offerings. The gravitational pull of SMEs, on the other hand, is relatively much weaker, which makes branding an essential tool to generate hype around their offerings.

“Experience tells us that consumers have come to realise that SMEs offer better personalised services; the challenge is to help them find the right SMEs that are currently being overshadowed by giant industry players. This is where a successful branding strategy can make a huge difference,” concluded Lahoud.

BrandCentral is a leading provider of turnkey solutions for brand development, corporate identity, and strategic design. Its mission is to provide a thoroughly positive impression of a company or product to existing and potential customers.



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Reason To Believe by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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