Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Branding Is Prerequisite for Successful Outcomes; For Persons; Companies; or Nations

Branding Is Prerequisite for Successful Outcomes; For Persons; Companies; or Nations
Written by Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States

Branding, rebranding is how the world is run.

Or, why do most people on earth refer to every photocopying machine as a Xerox? Why does everyone refer to every internet search efforts as Google it? Why is every detergent in Nigeria referred to as OMO?

Branding, rebranding, marketing, product promotion, products placement are synonymous themes and terms in efforts deployed by individual persons, by companies, and by nations who intend successful outcomes. .

Can anyone imagine a strategy, a bad strategy it is, which demands that an unemployed job seeker never create a resume, until her career succeeds? Or that a manufacturer never creates product awareness promotions for its products? And further, that, a nation never deploy ambassadors and diplomats until she is a world power? Doing all these things are aspects and facets of branding rebranding, promotion and marketing of the individual, corporation or nation. Advert is life!

What does the reader think of advertising? Do advertisers tell the public the truth? Do adverts and commercials work effectively in persuasive roles upon the average consumers? Do Nigerians buy real and fake Gucci, Nike and Movado? Are Nigerians the only ones who believe exaggerated truths in commerce? Are Nigerians seduced by falsities in adverts? Do Nigerians realize that branding, rebranding, product placement, and marketing etc all means adverts? Whether euphemistically called infomercial, product announcements or promotions etc
Advertising works! Nigeria and Nigerians must employ it!

A successful outcome for an individual person might be attained through the creation of a resume, or a reworking of such resume through the rendering of a new and an updated version of such a resume. A good resume, an excellent resume, is the equivalent of an effective public affairs manager or public relations effort on behalf of the named seeker of employment. A prospective employee may attract a prospective employer by an offering, in most creative manner, a resume which satisfies the needs, requirements, education, training and experience needed by the prospective employer. A good resume attracts and catches the eye of a prospective employer. Therefore, it can be rightly be asserted, that a good resume, is such, which gets the job seeker’s foot in the door, for at least an interview, before anything else.

As applied to companies and corporate bodies, branding, rebranding, promotion, product labeling, product placements and advertising etc, is an exactingly crucial process to successful outcomes. Profitability and corporate success, is the expressway to the attainment of satisfaction for board of directors and shareholders in terms of dividends or return on investments. In today’s world, it is not enough to make or manufacture a goodly useful product. Products must have a fitting or appropriate name, better if, such name has a ring to it. Beyond product name, it is even much better if such product has an attractive label and a suitable color.

Then there must be an aggressive, vigorous and rigorous promotions, advertising and placements of such products. Pharmaceutical companies have been known to create advertising and promotion based on an existing drug, but repackaged, relabeled and rebranded as good for treating another ailment, a new ailment, or an old ailment which you never knew you had, until you saw the advertisement by your favorite drug company’s aggressive, vigorous and rigorous prodigious promotion on television, newspapers and on billboards!

Nations are in these respects, quite similar in self-promotion, but, called national interests, and public policies propagandas are instruments for attaining what an individual person would, through a good resume while such an individual angles for employment. Nations engage in packaging and repacking, branding, rebranding, promotions, marketing, advertising, propaganda and even wars, in order to promote such national and strategic interests. War and propaganda is continuation of policy by, through and with, other means; apologies to Von Clausewitz who once said, (paraphrased here) War is policy pursuit by other methods.

Aggressive marketing, promotion, propaganda, advertising, media commercials or infomercials, and the general blitzkriegs of today’s world are the only explanations for human habits and even addictions, which continue to spread. Among these human habits and addictions, which are patently useless, and worse than useless in the most implicit and explicit terms of the term, useless! An easy example is the fact that some medical doctors and other healthcare professionals would smoke cigarettes, even despite their medical and scientific knowledge of the fact, current medical evidence have proven that cigarettes possess no vitamins or health benefits. Cigarettes, quite to the contrary, contain cancer-causing agents/elements carcinogen. The same can be said of anyone, who is not from Mars regarding the disease encrusted “product” known as cigarette. Anyone not from Mars would have to have heard that cigarettes are harmful to humans! But regardless of these scientific truisms, many people, educated persons, enlightened humans, will smoke their first stick of cigarette tomorrow! So, perhaps aggressive marketing does work? Perhaps branding as in the Marlboro-Man does have effect and works to sway new smokers?

The unstated rule today is as if, we are all encouraged to make good products, make better logos, much better designs and color-label and packaging; then have the best and greatest advertisements! Microsoft Personal Computers and Apple Mac, Microsoft has the command of the market, through better branding and rebranding and aggressive marketing. Video Home System or VHS made by JVC defeated Sony made Betamax in aggressive branding and marketing wars. These sorts of corporate branding, rebranding and vicious marketing wars are ceaselessly endless in the business world. The world is saying to all of us, make a good movie, make good perfume, but you do better be careful to mindfully market them. Write a good book, but get a publisher and an agent who get you and your book unto the press and media to talk about your “wonderful” book

Most Nigerians, who have entered the arena of the branding and rebranding debate, have been guilty of two presumptions. Firstly, too many Nigerians believe that a pre-condition for branding, rebranding, advertising and promoting Nigeria require that Nigeria, first, have to have attained the status of a perfect society, before ever making any attempts to engage in self promotions, branding rebranding advertising or diplomatic offensive. But, nothing could be farther from the truth of how the world really actually works in these matters.

Sometimes I just wonder whether Nigerians who are quick to discount the effect of advertising, promotions and marketing, are in fact aware of photo-shopped and airbrushed faces and pictures to which these same very Nigerians are confronted with daily! Airbrushed and photo-shopped faces of politicians, public figures, super models and all celebrities are on pages of newspapers, magazines and on television and in the movies. Those unblemished and spotless faces are branded and rebranded for public consumption!

Nigerians have seen celebrity endorsements, and the use sex to sell all sorts of products. Reading some comments by some Nigerians on this branding and rebranding phenomenon, they give the impression, that they do not understand, that, cheap food does not necessarily bad food and expensive things are not necessarily good things! Nigerians must know that there are bloggers these days, paid to review products with appearance of expertise. Nigerians must know of name recognition, which should not be confused with quality. The French company, Michelin is a rubber car tires to Nigerians, but it is also food or gourmet magazine in America

Anyone who suggests that Nigeria must be a perfect nation-society before Nigeria can engage in diplomatic charming of the world, should consider these analogous messages which follows. Imagine the illogic of suggesting to a job seeker, not to engage in the creation of a great resume, until she has had a successful career or become the president or chief executive officer of a company! Instead, the right position on these matters, require that we inform the unemployed to prospective great career, with writing a great door opener of a resume, as a precondition or precursor to attaining career success.

An individual can continually update her resume to reflect career growth, professional development and career success. Just as companies and sundry organizations must, as a crucial matter, have a mission statement which encompasses the organizational and or corporate objectives, which will lead to successful outcomes in production widgets or the provisions of services. Products and services must be niche marketed to the target end- user, whose sustained interests, generate patronage and profits etc

Similarly, nations must enunciate public policies, domestic and or, foreign; and aggressively promote such policies for internal and external consumptions. It is usually best, if what is claimed by individuals, companies and nations, in their branding, rebranding, self-promotion, resumes, marketing etc are, in fact, true and factual. However, this is often a matter of embellishing, puffing, flowery, sexed-up information, with embedment, coyness, diplomacy and garden variety propaganda!

Here is greater than fiction tale, as analogous to the above truisms. Once there was an empire which contained persons of two races. A Black race and a White race; The Whites dominated the Blacks. Blacks were brutalized in most unimaginable ways by the Whites, and yet, the Whites for almost a thousand years, claimed, with straight faces, that they, the Whites, matter of fact, and in sacrosanct manner, own and hold trademark and patent and monopoly to all that is democracy, liberty, freedom, equality, better than the rest of the world. The rest of humans, saw the Whites as they described, and have labeled and packaged themselves as the grandfather and grandmother of equality, justice and fairness, all this, despite abundant evidences of their subhuman treatments of Black fellow citizens.

Unbelievably, and remarkably, after five hundred years, the Whites elected a biracial (a Black and White) individual, as leader of the empire, and the whole world danced in the streets. No one bothered ask the Whites obvious logical questions, about their self-proclaimed trademark and patented monopoly of democracy, freedom, liberty, justice, equality during all this thousand years. No one bothered to ask the Whites, what in fact, took them so long, to see and come to the realization of the benefits and eminent sense in diversity! The Whites were showered with praises. They branded and rebranded themselves, again!

Ordinarily, our everyday logic would assess a student who scores miserly 1 out of 44 to be lousy, and he would be considered a bad, lazy or even dense dunce student. But no! 1 out of 44, after hundreds of years, was deemed brilliant, celebrated as progress, remarkable progress no less!

There was an empire which also pursued two foreign wars, and then, an aspiring emperor condemned these wars, and upon becoming an emperor in chief, he continued these foreign wars nevertheless. Nothing in the national strategic interests of the empire has changed. Branding gave the empire a new emperor, with apparent worldwide goodwill, but, public policies of the empire barely budged, except in tone, the wars have been repackaged and rebranded, but not any less costly in blood, and treasure and sweat. The empire just like the nation of Nigeria remains imperfect. Such is the story of branding and rebranding for nations. Nigeria should define and redefine Nigeria’s place in the world.

The Nigerians opposed to branding and rebranding of Nigeria, believe, that until and unless Nigeria is perfect and better than the heavens, branding and rebranding will be a colossal and monumental waste of time and resources. This is the essence and core of their ire.

Now, we must deal with the second group of Nigerians who are opposed to branding and rebranding. Their opposing is based on their objections to what some Nigerians perceive as the lack of actual and metaphorical qualifications, of some political leaders in Nigeria. The critics argue that Nigerian political leaders who are engaged in this current rebranding effort are hypocrites. These political leaders are accused of having inadequate qualifications, adequate preparations and worse, the hypocrisy of having imperfect individuals, mere mortals in the Nigerian environment, pursue, such pristinely hygienic thing, such as branding and rebranding! Branding must be factually true, honest, fraud averse and hypocrisy free, at least, so say critics of the current political leadership in Nigeria.

But what if, just what if, all Nigerians, governments and citizens alike, were to agree that our nation is for all of us?

And as such, power actually arises from the people; and that, having a better brand, through the rebranding of Nigeria, is a worthy effort, which should be pursued vigorously, aggressively and prodigiously by all Nigerian citizens, all corporate and commercial entities in Nigeria all socio-cultural, ethnic, regional and religious groups in Nigeria?

Suppose Nigerians and even non-Nigerians, individuals, entities, nations etc who wish Nigeria well, were to agree to act in unison, cohesively, concurrently and even simultaneously, for Nigeria’s best interests. Suppose anyone interested in protecting and preserving Nigeria’s best interests was to act to promote Nigeria’s best interests, without a belief that it is the responsibility of someone else, to do so? Branding is not for government alone. Branding should be by everyone, grassroots and all!

We do need and deserve excellent leadership in Nigeria. Therefore, demanding, for instance, that a perfect government in Nigeria will be best, at pursuing any public policies, including branding and rebranding, is an argument in favor of decency, and I never have arguments against decency.

Demanding the provision of public infrastructure and the provision of safety and security for persons and properties in Nigeria as requisite for promoting Nigeria, is a fair and appropriate demand. The need for certain fundamentals are not inconsistent with the pursuit of Nigeria’s national interests. But no nation is perfect, no leadership is perfect and no nation has all the public infrastructure or amenities the public crave. Nigeria must not wait for perfect leadership and a perfect homeland, before seeking Nigeria’s place in the world!

There is nothing particularly inconsistent with branding and rebranding, and, while, simultaneously in hot pursuits, of certain fundamentals or basics. There is nothing wrong with the hot-pursuits foreign investors, foreign tourists, while strengthening matters of safety and security our homeland Nigeria. There is nothing inconsistent in seeking citizenship responsibilities and obligations, while creating sturdy public infrastructure and social amenities, which will ensure the maintenance and sustainability of same. We know that citizens without a sense of civic duty, sense of responsibility and obligation to our nation, are liable to steal, vandalize and render useless, our best public infrastructure and social amenities. Think of damage NEPA transformers. Stolen guard rails from Lagos Bridges. Think of resources stolen through egregious public conduct. Remember the bottom up approach or the call and response… bad citizens make the worst leaders. Good citizens hardly become bad leaders. Gani does not become Sani because he becomes president and Aminu never became corrupt as Barkin though in the same PRP.

Nigerians must see the branding and rebranding debate and consequent actions, as a matter for all of us.

Branding and rebranding is task for all Nigerians, at home and abroad. And this is not just for the government of the past, or the present government or any government of Nigeria for the foreseeable future.

Branding and rebranding must be by every individual citizen and group of citizens, of Nigeria. Every responsible, good corporate citizen of Nigeria whether for profit or in gratuitous service and volunteer works, should engage in promoting Nigeria’s short, medium and long-term national interests. Branding and rebranding must be seen as a continuous process. America’s best product is America, the idea or concept of America itself. And America markets America aggressively, prodigiously and ever so vigorously! Americans of all political, religious persuasion and Americans of every ethnic and racial group engage in these efforts. Americans do these through governments, Democrats or Republican. Americans call it, winning hearts and minds (and trade)! They do these through persuasion, through propaganda and through wars! America the real, the imagined and the America which might and could someday exist. The world is essentially, work in progress, and Nigeria is no exception to this rule. No one is perfect. Nigeria is not.

Nigeria should, instead be seen, by all Nigerians and all well wishers of Nigeria, a corporate entity, even a commercial one, let’s say, and as a shareholder or an investor with a stake in the outcome would see a company or corporation. And, in my experience, investors and shareholders do not engage in, actively booing and denigrating a company in which, such investors, shareholders are heavily invested, and seeks profits and dividends.

For the purpose of this presentation therefore, we should all see Nigeria as our corporation or company, in which we have heavily invested and have stake in the outcomes in terms of profitability and dividends. We of course would not brook any chief executive officer, chief financial officer and board of directors and management, bent on running our cherished corporation aground and possibly into bankruptcy. But this remains a corporation in which we are all heavily invested!

Nigerians will do well then, to take ownership of Nigeria. Too many Nigerians have self-limited their ownership of the Nigeria enterprise to badmouthing errant CEO, CFO and the board of directors. How if, we seek ways to discipline the leadership? Or dismiss or eliminate them from the helms of affairs of our beloved corporation? And what if we engage in retooling our corporate charter and seek to hire, through legal (constitutional means) CEO, CFO and board of directors who would eventually do as we the shareholders and investors directs and instructs?

President Umaru Yar’Adua, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan and me, therefore, have equal stake in what happens to Nigeria. In fact, from my point of view, the two gentlemen are just store keepers, minding the store, for the true owners of this great warehouse-human house republic. Leadership is a transitory thing; it is merely ephemeral and fleeting, especially in a democracy. And yes, Nigeria is an imperfect democracy. But we all must agree that an imperfect democracy is better than its alternative!

Branding and rebranding needn’t wait for a perfect time. A desperate unemployed, a company in crisis or bankruptcy and a nation in an economic meltdown or even at war, may appropriately engage in branding or rebranding. In a previous article, I pointed out New York City in the United States, branded, rebranded itself during a deep recession and seismic-cataclysmic financial catastrophe and was at the precipice in 1977, when New York City, chose to promote herself as tourist destination for all-the world with the I Love New York themed T-Shirt red heart logo accompanied with aggressive advertising.

And a resurgent New York City now earns billions of dollars annually through tourism. And the profits from the rebranding is injected and recycled into public infrastructure and public-social amenities. Clearly therefore, there are direct links between a branded attractive magnetic New York City, created with tourists dollars and a continuously improving New York City. There are causal connection between costs and benefits in branding, rebranding and outcomes. Individual persons, while unemployed, should create great resumes to clinch employment. Companies or corporations, during a recession or depression, should create new products, new labels, colors and aggressive promotion or marketing to attract patronage and profitability, avoiding bankruptcy. Nations in crisis and even wars, would engage negotiations, diplomacy, and during economic meltdowns, proactive nations engage in the creation of economic stimulus package and new domestic and foreign policies.

There are all these things, which persons, corporations and nations engage in, for their individual person’s career progress, growth-development and success. When next Nigerians think of branding rebranding and Nigeria, they should think resume before employment by an individual. Think of a corporation its product design, product logo, label, color, packaging and marketing.

Nigerians should think of a nation needing a different image, reputation, both of which will in turn, generate profits in terms of foreign direct investment, tourism and general goodwill, which in turn will generate more resources to with which our country can invest more in safety and security of lives and properties… branding, rebranding is how persons, corporations and nations present themselves attractively. When seeking a girlfriend or boyfriend, you should brush your teeth, groom your hair, nails and wear clean clothes to make yourself perusable, and you should not wait until you are a perfect man or woman and a millionaire, or you will wait forever or until you are too old to find a boyfriend or girlfriend! Branding and rebranding must therefore be seen in these practical terms!

Branding and rebranding should be seen as an investment, the down-payment, the deposit we make, the seed money we use and the mobilization fee to start a venture. Branding is like the creation of great resume by an unemployed. Branding and rebranding is similar to corporate product creation and packaging and placement. Branding and rebranding is the creation public policies by nations, and the diplomacy or force of arms, in the pursuit of such policies, the imperialists and colonialist of this world have always done these things superbly well.

Branding, rebranding and product placement is advertising or marketing. Marketing is simply, how the world works! Advising Nigeria not to rebrand should be seen as identical to advising an unemployed person not to create a great resume because she is out of work and miserable in her unemployment status.

The equivalent of advising a company not to market its products or use excellent product designs, logos, labels and colors and aggressive marketing promotions, it is really such unwise recommendation. The value of branding, rebranding or advertising is really a no brainer. An airline must advertise her services in order to attract customers as passengers. A bank must similarly advertise to attract customers or clients. Even the best products, the best ideas must be branded, rebranded and marketed.

Too often, great minds die and great minds are buried with their excellent ideas which were never given birth or fruition, because, such ideas were not promoted into real life. Nigerians must remember that all the magnificence on earth, were once, mere castles in the “air” or castles in the minds of the originators, until such ideas or “castles” were promoted into reality. Nigerians need to continually and continuously, brand, rebrand and promote Nigeria

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