The management of Pizza Inn Ltd and Chicken Inn Ltd, a local firm in the leisure and hospitality sector, has found itself swatting the wind in an attempt to keep clientele ‘focused’ on its brand and service offering. The firm, with branches around Kigali, boasts of being the first specialised fast food outlet in the city, offering 24-hour service.
But there is a problem. It would appear a minor one at first, except when there is a clash of interest and trademark. Innscor International Ltd, a South African firm that runs Chicken Inn and Pizza Inn, has decided to venture into Rwanda’s restaurant milieu, a move that has seemingly caught the local franchise flatfooted.
Rwanda’s Chicken Inn and Pizza Inn almost share identical trademarks, complete with colour choice with Innscor’s franchise. And the South African firm, with intent to tap into Rwanda’s growing leisure and hospitality market, is not letting things lie down.
The subsequent battle for trademark points to the need for firms to invest in branding for continued market appeal. The need for branding cannot be more subtle where a company is using a brand or trademarks that already exists elsewhere even if just something closer to that effect.
Rebranding is necessary to help firms seize the opportunity or thwart potential future threats like the emergence of the South African firm on the local market. Obviously, the local firms should have been aware of that long before the new entrant made its intention public. In so doing, they would keep relevant with competitive influence because some competitions can affect brands.
Looking at the legal side of the coin, it becomes easy to notice that regardless of the outcome of the ongoing trademark legal battle between the South African and local Chicken Inn and Pizza Inn franchises, the local brand will be affected should their competitor enter the market under similar logo while offering similar services. Branding would be the perfect jouk to sidestep such a development.
The bottom line in the Chicken Inn and Pizza Inn saga is that local companies cannot afford to rest on their laurels however dominant they might be. Competition can emerge from anywhere. A good and strong firm with reputable brand should be ready to swat competition through sustained market research.