Saturday

Branding, re-branding, teleprompting managing Nigeria’s image (II)By Paul I.

The folloing is an interesting article on the need to rebrand Africa and Nigeria in particular. Here's the link to it: http://www.triumphnewspapers.com/bra2662009.html

Here's the article:

Rebranding Africa: Beyond brand devastation
“Branding is the way in which an organization communicates, differentiates, and promotes itself to its audience.” “Re-branding - means taking a product or a service and redefining its purpose, it’s content, and its reality.” “As a journalist and member of the Ghanaian Diaspora, Esther Armah is all too familiar with the portrayal of Africa in the mainstream media. Esther points out that “Africa’s brand was not self-determined; it has been in the hands of an unelected leader, the mainstream media.” She offers her perspectives on Re-branding Africa. “Devastation” has been Africa’s primary media image for decades. This brand has been powerful, persistent, and without penalty for those who maintain it. “It has been destructive for the continent and the Diaspora economically, culturally, spiritually, and emotionally. It has also been cancerous for trade and development. “The media has been the public relations wing of “Brand Devastation” and repetition its tool. A diet of stories featuring the same images of hopelessness and helplessness ensured Western audiences’ loyalty to Brand Devastation.” All these quotes are sourced from The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA). Most people, most companies and nations recognize the importance of image and reputation, real or merely claimed, with a straight-face! That is what diplomacy and public relations mostly about. Selling ice to Eskimos! Who hasn’t heard of pharmaceutical companies making and selling same tablets with same admixtures of compounds and chemical formula hued and with a different name, while charging for its placebo effect efficacy, to treat the ailment which you never knew you had, until you watched your television? A pharmaceutical company invented affliction! Who again, hasn’t heard of ghostwritten medical research opinions concocted by employees of pharmaceutical companies, who are all the while pretending to be acting as if they were real medical science trained, and objective reviewers subject to peer review checks and balances? And who hasn’t heard of Merck’s sponsored magazine in which Merck created the appearance, in the magazine formed by it and paid for by it, while reviewing Merck products and avidly recommending them as pseudo professionals in an independent pharmaceutical oriented magazine?The lives on branding, re-branding, and teleprompting, all aimed at the smooth delivery or presentation of well written speeches, rehearsed, choreographed, orchestrated and synchronized to land like an egg dropped onto velvets an inch close. In today’s world, it is still important to have full and good grasps of the issues; and to have the passion, good writing, and practiced delivery, teleprompt and all. A moving speech is where preparation meets elegant delivery and dramatic believability. Coming across as an accomplished polished speaker takes more than mere efforts of old, it now requires more, it combines dramatic acting with multiple variables of a plethora of factors. Good public speaking therefore is just like marketing or acting, or product placements of today, or public relations, these are never accidental happenstances. These factors are almost always invariable, whether they are geared at promoting an individual person’s interests or marketing a product for a company, and or, promoting a nation’s strategic national interests. Wars are won or lost these days, depending on how they are sold and whether public bought into it, as in Wag The Dog. A prospective employee is hired based on his self-promotion or public relations through his resume and packaging and presentation skills geared at selling self to the interviewer at the interview. Worse than useless products are marketed to gullible public every two seconds of the day! Worse than useless products such as cigarettes are sold every second to satisfy gullible-buyers smokers-consumers! Some Nigerians must believe that Calvin Klein is daily hunkered over a tailoring machine designing and sewing every pair of denim. These Nigerians are splendidly unaware that price of goods is not often related to cost of production, such that a shoe manufacturer may sue a seller, who sells shoes too cheap below manufacturers recommended prices. Having read the published opinions of many Nigerians on the futility of branding or re-branding and creating and promoting Nigeria’s image or reputation, I should be forgiven if I now conclude that some Nigerians come across as if they must believe that cigarettes and other tobacco products have good health benefits? Or that cigarettes or tobacco enhances longevity, hence the wide market for cigarettes and tobacco in America, Nigeria and worldwide? Nothing could be farther from the truth! It was marketed, branded, re-branded, packaged and presented and, sold!Branding is crucial and critical for success. This has always been so, it is even more so in today’s world. The British Pound had sterling qualities, that is a brand, that is a reputation, that brand and reputation was exported through force and sometimes through persuasions and arm-twisting, so that, what in the beginning was a British Pound or Sterling quality which should be limited to England, became a brand, India, Nigeria and America had to accept as colonies of EnglandBBC and VOA are very popular with Nigerians, Africans and others in the so-called so-labeled Third Word, some Nigerians take whatever is heard on BBC and VOA as gospel or Qur’anic truth, meanwhile, BBC and VOA are government owned and operated propaganda tools, they have been so, and remain so. The BBC and VOA brands are brands trusted by Nigerians so much, that some Nigerians rely on BBC/VOA with pride, for breaking national Nigerian news. Multitudes of Nigerians trust BBC/VOA, regardless of the fact that these are mere propaganda tools of the UK and US governments! Brand faith, blind faith as well! And western liberalism and press freedom was put to test recently in the embedment of western journalists in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, President Bush, even against the wishes of Americans and the world. What does being embedded do to freedom of the press? It makes the press freer? Oxymoronic isn’t it? And yet, the American and European government are quick to criticize press ownership by governments of other nations and the gullible public listens inattentively? Flags of nations are brands, and have reputation which are admired or loathed, burned or hoisted proudly, depending whether such flags represent peaceful or pariah brand, the average Palestinian or Iraqi may not necessarily see the American flag as a brand which represents an honest impartial peace broker, just as some Nigerians think our beautiful national flag in all its glory, is meaningless to them. I read Mr. Salisu Suleiman “I am Hungry, Brand Me” and I said aloud, he is right, and yet wrong. Inasmuch as a hungry man is an angry man, is a truism in every Nigerian, I must add however, that, branding is misunderstood by too many Nigerians! Branding and re-branding , properly channelled and pursued, would lead to economic salvation for Nigerians and Nigeria, case in point, is the wildly successful I Love New York campaign, which resulted in boost and boom to tourism, employment and great wealth creation for New York City and eventually, the entire state of New York borrowed the re-branding idea from New York City! Branding should be properly understood as a mission statement. It is a sine qua non for progress. It is essential for a person, an institution or an entity or a nation to has a brand plan or mission statement of objectives. Or just forget everything else! Therefore to say, Nigeria is too broke and too bad to have a brand, is the equivalent of say, Nigeria should not have a national flag, or that Nigeria should file for bankruptcy and cease to exist as a nation. Branding and re-branding Nigeria as such, is the statement and re-statement of purpose and mission statement of our nation, from hereon-out; when and if, such statement of purpose a la mission statement is pursued prodigiously, vigorously and zealously, even the worst pessimists and cynics among Nigerians would have their wildest dream realized. If Nigeria were a corporation, it will be fair to say, it is currently doing abysmally, making no profits, but instead, losing prized assets. True! But, would anyone be right to suggest a company such as this should not have meetings, special meetings, general meetings, strategy sessions and thereafter, a restatement of the corporate purpose, identity and desire to improve brand, product quality, image and reputation? Of course not! Nigeria, does indeed need branding, re-branding and refocus of our national brand, image, reputation in the hot pursuit of our nation’s development and advancement Hey Nigerians! Let us go and market Nigeria to the world, the world is waiting! And not a moment too soon!Source: Gamji.com.

-- Madhur
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