INTERVIEW (Mr Rufai Ladipo & Mrs. Funmi Ajila-Ladipo)

The Role of Branding In the Fashion Industry

The Fidelity SME Forum is a weekly radio programme organized by Fidelity Bank Plc to educate, inform, advise and inspire budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria with knowledge and expertise that will enable them build sustainable and successful businesses. The interactive radio programme features subject matter experts and model entrepreneurs as guests on a weekly basis to share their insight and unique success stories. In this interview, Mr Rufai Ladipo & Mrs. Funmi Ajila-Ladipo gives valuable insights on “The Role of Branding In the Fashion Industry”. 

Q: Who were your first customers?

Funmi: My first customers were my Family members, my friends.

Q: How would you explain the concept of branding to a lay man?

Rufai: A brand is an Idea itself or image of a specific product or service that consumers can either connect with by its Logo, Slogan or even the design of that particular company.

Q: There is saying that *Better brand perception outsells better product* do you agree with this saying?

Rufai: It goes back to the saying that first impression counts, you don’t have the opportunity to go back and make that impression, so the way you really train yourself in the market creates that positive perception and you don’t want a situation where things are going to go wrong because immediately that happens you have to start you brand from scratch and to be able to bring it back to where it was is usually a challenge. So perception goes along way.

Q: How did you become current president of Fashion Designer’s Association of Nigeria (FADAN)?

Funmi: It was through an election, we usually have an election every three years and this is my second term in office.

Q: When was your breakthrough moment?

Funmi: My breakthrough moment came when I became the best designer in Nigeria in 1987. I left school earlier that year and I just felt that I could fly with the things that I do and I put in for a contest and it was best designer in Nigeria and I won and from there it has been a huge success story.

Q: What does it take to be a successful Fashion Designer in Nigeria in this day and time?

Funmi: First and foremost you need to have a basic knowledge of what you are doing, you need to be really patient, you need to be passionate about what you do, and you need to know what you are doing.

Q: What is the relationship between Branding and Fashion?

Rufai: There is no much difference between fashion and branding. The glamour that fashion brings to the floor makes it more prominent and more progressive. So it comes with a label. Each time they finish any product, the Label Regalia is there and if you don’t put Regalia there as a label it could have been made by anybody else so that itself is the power of branding and it depends on how you are able to manage yourself to the extent that you do not distort your brand.

Q: You were the former president of Advertising Agency Association in Nigeria (AAAN) what is your view on the present state of advertising In Nigeria?

Rufai: Advertising in Nigeria has come of age. It started over 40years ago I would tell you that it has really taken the center stage now. Creativity has improved to a large extent and one area where we have not been able to do much is the area of winning global awards which I’m sure is going to come. More people are getting interested, colleges, university, technology schools are offering mass communication. You have to agree with me that what we consider as traditional advertising today is now being a little bit shifting away because of the digital transformation.

Q: What was the hardest part of starting your own business?

Rufai: Diving into becoming an entrepreneur was not an easy task for me, it got to a point, that I needed to leave my paid employment and I realized that if you don’t leave your Job, what happens when your leaves you? I have a wife who had been an entrepreneur years ahead of me so I was able to get some tips from her on how to get going. Knowing the subject matter of your business is good but at the end of the day the business side of it is also very critical.

Q: What was the hardest thing for you diving into business?

Funmi: One of the hardest thing I really faced was Finance and then skills, being able to get the right people that you want to get the job done. But I was ready to start small and learn from my mistakes and I think that is just what a lot of people really need to understand. The journey is not going to be that smooth.

Q: Do you have trainings opportunities for people?

Rufai: We sure do. Last November we had an SME conference and the idea is just to let them see how they can enhance effective branding, we are going to have it this year as well.

Q: How can you be reached?

Rufai: Email rufai.ladipo@agileagr.com
Funmi; Email. Ladipofunmi@yahoo.com