Tuesday 13 January 2015

What business owners can learn from the rebranding of Buhari

General Muhammed buhari is a one-time military president of Nigeria and a present(Jan 2015) presidential aspirant of the APC. He had unsuccessfully contested elections three times in 2003, 2007 and 2011. Buhari lost elections consistently for several reasons which bordered on peoples perception of him as a die-hard Islamic fundamentalist, a mean, old-fasioned sharia advocate and ethnic bigot. The brand Buhari never sold until 2014 when they were said to have hired former campaign manager of Barrack Obama-the United States president. Suddenly Buhari started enjoying massive support across Nigerian youths and people of different ethnic backgrounds -the name is now a sellable brand.

This write up is based on my following up of events and how the mind of people shifted gradually. It is intended that this will help individuals and organisations believe in the power of branding/rebranding. It has often been said that there is nothing really special about the apple in the Garden of Eden, the Devil simply made it more appealing.

What is Branding?
Brand is the perception someone holds in their head about you, or a product, service, organization, cause, or idea.   It can be negative, positive, or somewhere in between. Some people erroneously think that branding is all about getting a professional logo design but its far more than that. A brand is not just a logo, ad campaign, spokesperson or slogan. Rather a brand is a product of the millions of experiences a company creates with employees, vendors, reporters, communities, and customers—and the emotional feelings these groups develop as a result of their experiences.

A brand is a perception
Yes branding is all about perception and perception is stronger than reality. People are constantly forming perceptions.  But we don’t have to leave the process to chance.  Every day, we have opportunities to shape other’s perceptions as is the case of the Buhari brand.  This is a typical example of what brand building is about:  the deliberate and skillful application of effort to create a desired perception in the mind of another person.

The Rebranding of Buhari
The rebranding of Buhari is working like magic in the minds of Nigerians. Even though Buhari seem to always to make statements that would discredit what his strategist s are making people belief yet the magic is working. Note that most of the recent campaign strategies had never been used by the General before.

Changing the fundamentalist belief
Whereas GMB greatest opposition is the belief that he is an islamic fundamentalist, his campaign strategist countered this several activities. First was by looking for a respected Christian body with the largest population in Nigeria-RCCG. A party that was poised to field a Muslim-muslim ticket suddenly made a u-turn picking a pastor of RCCG as a running mate. They also organized events that made Buhari appear on a church event(Lagos thanksgiving service) with the General Oversea of RCCG-Pastor Enoch Adeboye who may not even know Buhari will be attending. The event was well covered by the media and splashed all over social media as Pastor Adeboye showing support for Buhari. This was coming after Adeboye had dissociated himself from the political ambition of Professor Osibanjo-the RCCG pastor that emerged the running mate of GMB. 

Countering the Sharia mindset
That Buhari wants to Islamize Nigeria and introduce sharia was a strong belief held by most people especially as he has made comments in support of Sharia. Recently he said he would scrap the office of the first lady which most people saw as the sharia style of leadership that oppresses women with examples in Afghanistan’s Taliban. His campaign strategist quickly advised Buhari to go with his wife on campaigns, something the General has never done in past campaigns. They also organized his daughter to dress in a very attractive non-fundamentalist style. All these were shared on social media and the intent was captured by a commentator on Nairaland whose comment got over 300 likes showing how much the magic worked on Nigerians. See the comment from a Nairaland post below
The look of Buharis daughter before and what the recent pix presents

Making something perceived as mean to be soft
Its simple, and it possible. The picture below explains it all. Obamas campaign manager simply reused the trick he had used to show how friendly Obama is to show same for GMB

Appealing to different ethnic groups
This were things Buhari never did before

Reaching the youths

 GMB joined twitter in December 2014. It was a deliberate act to reach the younger generation who perceive him as old-fashioned and not in tune with modern day realities. Buhari had declared cows as his assets adding to the voices that dismissed him as old fashioned. Jonathan had declared shares as part of his assets years ago- a characteristic of modern man 

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