In 2013, NF Branding took off in Nigeria and West Africa with offices in Ghana and Abidjan. Between 2013 and 2017, the company had grown rapidly, providing modern branding services, which has changed the terrain extensively. The brain behind company is its Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Olufela Seton, a thoroughbred events and branding professional with experience, cutting across top agencies in Nigeria. He led other investors to float NF Branding Nigeria. Seton speaks with Raheem Akingbolu on a number of issues including branding industry and state of Nigerian economy. Excerpts:
What is your motivation for bringing NF Branding to Nigeria?
The urge to introduce modern branding concept to the region is the underlying factor behind the expansion of NF Branding to Nigeria and West Africa. It was also a strategic approach to extending its success story the region. Hitherto China has been the destination where Nigerians procure their materials which they ship to Nigeria. But with our presence, it’s a new development altogether. They have realised that we can do the job for them at the same price, or even lower because of discount. What we want to do is to create jobs for Nigerians. If NF Branding South Africa can provide jobs for 7,000 employees, we are very optimistic that we can replicate that in Nigeria too. We want to dissuade people from going to China to produce their materials because there is no consistency in the design coming from that region. This is because the Chinese companies do not have faces here in Nigeria. As for us, there is consistency with our company and we deliver at the due time.
What is NF Branding’s mission?
NF Branding came in to fill the vacuum in the Nigerian creative industry and to take advantage of the vast opportunities in the industry. Our plan is to change the outlook of the branding industry in Nigeria and create African jobs for African people. This is something African countries have been grappling with since they started getting independence. However, I believe that Africans have the answers. I have the burning desire to bail out as many graduates as possible from the abyss of joblessness and empower them to compete in an environment dominated by expatriates. We have been able to record some strides in this regards because in Lagos, we have over 40 staff members. And we’re still looking to create thousands of direct and indirect jobs once our factory is completed. The factory will provide employment for about 1,500 people in Nigeria at the initial stage and this is expected to rise to about 3,000 after our first year of operation. In addition to that, we would inject about $12 million into the industry with the factory that will manufacture tarpaulin products, cargo nets and sim pack casings, which are presently being imported. This would catalyse real growth and sustainable development which we have been craving to achieve for a long time.
How long has NF Branding been in the branding industry?
The National Flag and Branding Limited, which is our parent company, have been operating in South Africa since 1982. We currently have regional offices in Nigeria and Ghana. The Nigerian office serves as the head office for our West African operation
How will NF branding cope with other companies considering the fact that the branding industry is very competitive?
Excellent services are our unique selling point. We would only deliver modern and excellent branding jobs, which would stand test of time. We aim to change the business landscape by introducing professionalism and bring top grade branding products that have not been seen before. This will invariably expand the market and make the business terrain more competitive by creating broader opportunities for individuals, public institutions and corporate entities. We also have the largest product range in the African branding industry.
What are the core services that NF Branding provides?
We produce outdoor and indoor materials. For outdoor, we produce banner walls, banner poles, display banners, umbrellas, face wraps, pennant and gazebos. Our indoor services include canvas fabrics print, custom wall wrappers, eclipse banner, light boxes and pop-ups. We also produce flag poles, car flags, and signage, among others.
What will the Nigeria and West Africa branding industry gain from NF Branding?
We want to bring modern branding concepts we see in other more developed climes to the country. We are investing heavily in new technologies to enhance our printing capabilities and product range such as HD printing which is what is in vogue now. Our materials can also be recycled. We can give you hardware and tell you to go to bed for one year because our products are genuine and are of high quality. Very soon, we will be bringing in some experts to train people on standard printing because what we have in Nigeria is old and inferior technology, which is about eight years behind the new style of printing.
Can you list some of the big jobs that NF Branding has handled?
We were responsible for the branding of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, African National Congress (ANC) Centenary Celebration, DRC Conference in Congo, 2009 Confederation Cup, 2013 African Cup of Nations. In Nigeria, our clients include Huawei, Coscharis, Ecobank, JSK, Unilever, Pepsi, Nigerian Breweries, German Embassy and others. We were also part of the last edition of the Lagos City Marathon. We are especially glad that the Lagos State government liked our output for the marathon and we look forward to working with them in other areas.
Do you produce flags?
In US, UK and even South Africa, there are companies licensed to produce national flags. As a nation and because of our cultural heritage, we should not allow just anybody to produce the national flag. In the UK, there are only three companies that have government approval to produce flags, while in the in the US and South Africa, there are just two licensed companies. I think we should follow suit here as well. This will not only protect our Flag but it will accord it necessary respect. We will handle such assignment with outmost professionalism.
Can Nigeria overcome the economic recession?
We need to plan well and adopt a trade and economic policy which helps to replace foreign imports with domestic production. This culture of importing everything is not doing us any good because it takes away jobs from young African graduates and technicians. We are too import-dependent instead of us to focus on how we can also export our own products to other parts of the world. That is the only way our currency can increase in value and wouldn’t be so susceptible to fluctuations in the global marketplace. We also need to empower our youths, create more entrepreneurs and generally encourage our people to patronise made in Nigeria products. All these, would in turn boost the economy.
How would you describe Nigeria’s business environment?
This is a very dynamic market. It is growing in terms of business volume that comes here. We are the biggest economy in Africa and this by implication, translates to good business. What we lack is a properly structured economy but we have the population and the market. I predict that in the next 10 years, the Nigerian economy would be number one in Africa. Nigeria has the purchasing power which is why there is no world-class brand that does not want to do business in Nigeria. Shoprite came in to the country recently and today they are all over the country. Also telecommunication company MTN, operates in over 20 African countries but 50 per cent of the group profit comes from Nigeria. The Nigerian market is ever buoyant.
You recently opened NF Branding office in New York…
Thank you, The New York branch is very strategic and we are glad that it has taken off .Very soon, we will be moving to more locations across the world, delivering the best of branding services.
What are your future plans?
We are set to revolutionise branding not only in Nigeria but in West Africa and Africa as a whole. Very soon NF Branding, with its state-of-art machineries and modern branding style will become number one and ultimately the reference point in branding and printing technology on the continent. We are wholly committed to delivering excellent services and we will continue to expand around the world.