The re-branding Nigeria project was engineered by Professor Dora Akunyili, the current minister of information of the Feral Republic of Nigeria. Her idea was a fantastic concept, and she certainly deserves applause for thinking in that direction.
However, as much as her motives for the project might be just, the project was certainly a failure as far as the text book definition of internal re-branding is concerned. As much as I will not want to condemn the entire exercise, may be because of the billions of Naira of tax payers’ hard earned money spent, it is just so sad to see that things did not just work out. Thinking about the whole charade, it is my pleasure to highlight what I saw as the loop hole in the entire process and possible solutions to them. I believe this will help us bring things back into perspective and give us the possibility of a way forward. Without much ado about nothing, I present to you from my opinion ‘8 reasons I feel made the entire operation a failure’.
Wrong sense of what branding is all about: It is so sad because I feel the very people called to re-brand Nigeria do not have the slightest idea of what branding is all about; at least it seems so. There are so many steps taken in the wrong direction to prove they don’t have the slightest idea of what branding is all about. I will define branding, by first highlighting what branding is not.
A brand is not a Logo: (A new logo was created)
A brand is not a Name:
A brand is not a slogan: (Good people, great Nation)
A brand is not a product:
A brand is not an Identity:
A brand is not your advertising campaign: (TV and radio jingle)
What is a brand? A brand is people’s perception about who you are. (Layman definition) A brand is simply defined as what other people think about you. A brand is not what you say you are, it is what people say you are. So, you don’t define and call yourself a brand, people decide. You can consciously influence people’s decision by trying to create a unique brand perception in people's mind, but at the long run, people still decide if you are successful or not.
So, I believe the re-branding Nigeria process was not a success, because people don’t think it was, (if you seriously doubt what I am saying, please type the word ‘Re-Branding Nigeria in www.google.com/ search engine, and find out for yourself). Sad, but true, because trying to create a new brand identity like logo, slogans, music, TV commercial etc doesn’t really re-brand Nigeria, it like doing a facelift for a very sick person. The process should have been a lot deeper than that.
Lack of proper Corporate Social Strategies: Every country, company, organization, family, individual need to work with a corporate social or business strategy. As much as this may sound ridiculous, the secret to most developed nations of the world is the use of corporate social and business strategies to tackle social and economic problems battling with their system. They tackle a nation as though it were a corporate organization, because almost the same principle governs both systems. You will be so surprise how far the use of vision, mission and corporate cultural philosophies can go a long way to help a nation’s economic structure if enforced and imbibed by the leadership and citizens of any nation. Corporate social and business strategies involves, having a proper action plan that will be effective to developing every sphere of the nation’s economy. What most people fail to realize is that, once a nation's economy improves, then the brand image of such a nation will automatically change. What true re-branding can be more effective than this?
Wrong chain of Brand Structure: The right chain of brand structure states that ‘you brand from upward-down and inside-out’. I think our leaders have it on the reverse; they try to brand from downward-up, and outside-in.
Until the Lagos state governor ‘Babatunde Fashola (SAN)’ stopped planting flowers, and started making policies that affect the lives of the citizens of Lagos state, Lagos states was not perceived as a changed mega city. It will take more than planting flowers to effect those changes; if any reformation is not affecting the lives of the people you lead positively, there will be no transformation. He changed his strategies from planting flowers to making roads, health care reform, transportation, jobs etc. That is when any re-branding concept can work in the nation. If you don’t train or cause change in the life of the people you govern, they will in turn destroy every facelift you are putting in place. So, you have to brand inside out.
You also have to brand from upward-down. That means, you have to start enforcing and obeying policies from the helm of leadership. Any rebranding process that excludes the leadership of any organization, cannot work! You don’t try to enforce from the grass root. Most of our law makers are law breakers, and a true re-branding process cannot work under such conditions. You start the process from Aso-Rock and let it spread to every household in various parts of Nigeria. That is the way it works and not the other way round.
Wrong motives and divided purpose: This is a tricky one, because I cannot really judge Dora’s motives for wanting to rebrand Nigeria, but what about the people she is working with. Most of them are out for their pocket and not for the success of the program. For there to be a true re-branding process, people should be ready to make sacrifices. We all need to make sacrifices and work selflessly. I know there are some people that will do everything to sabotage such wonderful effort, but what is the motive of the people involved. This will bring us to the next point.
It takes a village to raise a child: It takes a community to rebrand. It is not something Mrs. Dora’s can do alone; it takes the support and cooperation from every Nigerian. We all need to work together to make Nigeria a great Nation, starting from those in the helm of affairs, our President, the Vice-President, our Senators, Ministers, Governors, Local council chairmen, leaders of corporations, family heads, organizational heads, group heads, School heads etc. if leaders can be an example to their followers, I don’t see the reason why things will not change. Our leaders were a never a part of this process. It takes collaborative efforts to build a house, the same goes for building a nation.
Starved and deprived Citizens: I don’t see the re-branding working when the system is down. Until we start making policies that transform the lives of the citizens, things will not change. Can you imagine us as a nation spending billions on carnival, when people are hungry? Holding carnivals to give a false perception to Nigerians in Diaspora is not a true rebranding process. A good re-branding process will always factor in, how to make policies that will transform the lives of the people. If the people still lack basic life amenities like housing, good road, electricity, food, jobs etc; all re-branding efforts will be wasted. The perception of Nigerians in Diaspora will always be negative as far as all the harsh condition in the country remains the same. When the country is fast developing, you turn your citizens into patriotic brand ambassadors that will go all around the world telling other people about their country. But when you don’t take care of your citizens, you also create 140 million negative brand ambassadors that will also go telling the entire world, I don’t know what kind of effect any TV or radio jingles can do to correct such an image. So, I will advise that we stop spending those billions of money making TV and Radio jingles; we should start using the money to implement policies that will in turn transform the lives of the people; that is a true internal branding process.
Non Availability of professional brand consultants: A project such as re-branding Nigeria, I believe should involve at least a professional consultant in the field of branding and not just advertising and communications. You can't just put together some people that have an idea of media and advertising and expect to have a positive output. If we are to do things again, I will suggest we get it right. Why do you think a bank such like GTBank in Nigeria will go all the way to UK to have institutions dedicate entire case studies in studying and researching on ways of improving on GTBank services? The airport management in UK outsourced some of their research to Harvard business school the United States, because they will do anything to have professionalism in their system. I am not saying we should go to the UK or USA, but I believe there are professionals we could have consulted for research and strategies when wanting to re-brand Nigeria.
Re-branding at every level not factored in: You cannot re-brand a part of the Nation and call it re-branding Nigeria. I expect if we truly wanted to re-brand Nigeria, we should run internal brand training essence at every Institutions, Universities, elementary Schools, government offices, military etc. Leadership and internal branding training for our senators, house of representatives, local governments chairmen, councilors etc. We needed to have trained everyone on what the process was all about. There is an adage that says “you can’t send an untrained military to battle field”.
These are some of the problems I feel didn’t make the Re-branding Nigeria project work out. Please do not hesitate to revert back to me, with your comments and further suggestions. Enjoy.