Branding ‘a must’ for Turkish companies

Branding ‘a must’ for Turkish companies

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Branding ‘a must’ for Turkish companies

Simit Sarayı, a local chain of simit cafes, has begun to expand abroad. Company photo

As even the largest Turkish companies are still facing struggles in creating brands acknowledged worldwide, the experiences of the few entrepreneurs who managed to think beyond a nation’s borders have become much more valuable.

Haluk Okutucu, the creator and board chairman of Simit Sarayı bakery-cafe chain, is one of those men. Okutucu started up his company as a store selling sesame seed-crusted circular breads, the famous Turkish street food known as simit, in 2002. In only 11 years his small store turned it into a firm with more than 300 branches in Turkey and 50 abroad.

Simit Sarayı has not only become of the widest retail chains of the country, but it also takes the justified pride of creating a new market by taking the traditional simit from carts on every corners and putting it into a cafe setting. As Simit Sarayı expanded, many followed in its footsteps, making simit cafes a part of Turkish daily life.

“If Turkey wants to reach the government’s 2023 target of $500-billion exports, this should be through exports of its brands, contract manufacturing wouldn’t be enough,” Okutucu told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview.

If the product you’re selling is not your own branded product, as soon as another country starts to produce it for a lower price, the buyer will turn to them, he said.

A member of Turquality

He said the company, which is also a part of the Economy Ministry’s Turquality program that offers Turkish brands both monetary and advertising assistance, has been taking steps to reach that level of branding.

According to Okutucu, in addition to keeping promises and providing sustainable service to customers, being a global brand has another key element: being known in the United States. “Even if you’re doing business in 200 countries in the world, if you’re not in the U.S. you’re not recognized as a global brand,” he said.

With that in mind, after consolidating its presence and stronghold in Germany and the Netherlands’ markets, where a heavy Turkish immigrant population helps, Simit Sarayı is now clearing the deck for its United States and United Kingdom market debuts in early 2014.