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Defending and Preserving Workers Agenda in the Midst of Repressive Laws

JUSTICE KEY DINGAKE

Permit me to express my sincere gratitude to the organizers of this event, for the opportunity to share some critical reflections with you consistent with your theme, namely,” Defending and preserving Workers Agenda in the Midst of Repressive Laws”.

It is not quite often that a judge of the Republic interacts with organized labour in the manner afforded by this opportunity as quite often we meet in adversarial circumstances in which the engagement is mediated by hierarchical power relations and other antagonistic relationships.

 

And since you are part of the executive, in a constitutional sense, I wondered whether my presence here does not violate the separation of powers that enjoins me to keep to my lane and and not to trespass into your lane. I am certain though that this intellectual moment we share does no violence to the principle of separation of powers.

 

I must begin the substantive engagement with your theme by problematizing labour relations in the public service so that you appreciate the space you occupy and operate in.  Labour relations in the public service is not the same as with the private sector.

 

Herein lies the distinction: First, the state is in the unique position of being both the employer and a chief determinant of national economic and social policies which policies may directly impact on employment matters.

 

This raises the issue of the government as an employer being in some way a judge in its own cause. Secondly, workers in government discharge services which have serious impact on members of the public generally, hence the very apt description as members of the public service and the Act that regulates your operations, styled, “Public Service Act”.

The consequence of the above is that unlike contracts of employment in the private sector, the failure of the state to deliver requisite and proper services to the public raises both political and economic questions.

Thirdly, salaries and wages payable to government employees, are a component of national budget, which in all democracies require the approval of the elected legislature. This raises grave constitutional questions, namely, to what extent should the legislature be bound by prior commitments by the executive arm of the government to award certain salary increases? And more fundamentally, how far should organized labour like BOPEU be permitted to exert pressure on a democratically legislature, or the executive  to extract certain concessions?

 

Your theme seems to suggest that you hold the view that labour laws in Botswana may be repressive making it difficult for you to defend worker’s rights. I make no findings of fact on the state of labour law; but wish to remind you that Botswana is a constitutional democracy in terms of which the constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law inconsistent with it may be declared by our courts to be constitutionally non compliant and therefore invalid.

 

In engaging on your theme, it seems to me to be imperative, to bring on board certain relevant contextual considerations that illuminate our conversation. To this extent it is important  to recall  and remind ourselves of the historic Declaration of Philadelphia that sets out the aims and purposes of the International Labour Organization. The Declaration proclaims, among other things that:

“ Labour is not a commodity; freedom of expression and association are essential to sustained progress; poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity anywhere; the war against want requires to be carried out with unrelenting vigor within each nation, and by continuous and concerted international effort in which the representative of workers and employers, enjoying equal status with those of governments, join with them in free discussion and democratic decision with a view to promotion of the common welfare”.

 

The lessons of history and indeed the lessons derived from the Declaration, that none amongst us gathered here, today,  can credibly contest, is that lasting peace, development and social justice can not be achieved in any society if labour is still regarded as a commodity and deserving to be chained and repressed.

 

All human beings, (and workers are no less human beings), have a right to pursue their rights to work under conditions of freedom and dignity, characterized by mutual respect and openness, economic security and equal opportunity.

 

This can only be so if organized labour is regarded as an equal partner in economic development agenda. We need, as a nation, to engage in transformational dialogue in which organized labour, employers and government can genuinely see each other as equals in the development project of our republic.

 

Trade Unions exist for one primary purpose: to articulate and defend the interests of the workers. Historically, the attitude of the law to trade unions was one of hostility. They were regarded not as equal partners but some kind of conspiratorial group whose interests are inimical to that of the nation state.

 

This thinking, to the extent that some remnants of it may still be found in our statute books need to be discarded in favour of the new thinking that regards organized labour as a genuine partner in development. Our labour law must mirror the values of human dignity and freedom reflected in the letter and spirit of our constitution and international legal instruments which Botswana as a member of civilized community of nations has ratified – thereby signalling its desire to live by those principles.

 

Labour law is a sensitive subject; it is located at an intersection between, economics, politics and law. It is a compromise  between organized labour – a very powerful socio-economic force and the employers of labour, on the other hand; an equally powerful socio-economic force.

 

The balance between the two is delicate; and if not handled with care it can destabilize and derail the development agenda of the country. The courts are custodians of this delicate balance – and they miss the delicacy at a great cost to the nation.

 

No area of Botswana labour law has developed as rapidly in the past decade or so as the one regulating the relationship between organized labour and employers. This rapid development was fuelled by Botswana’s domestication  of a number of the ILO core conventions in 2004 such as Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention, Freedom of Association and the Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, and the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention.

 

The above Conventions seek to ensure that the rights of workers to form their own organizations, to defend their interests, to freely associate and bargain collectively are respected in practice; because labour is not a commodity. The right to strike which is recognised by international labour law is an important aspect of the right to collective bargaining.

 

The Committee on Freedom of Association has in the past observed that:

“The right to strike is one of the essential means through which workers and their organizations may promote and defend their economic and social interests”.

The right to strike is not expressly recognized in the constitution, but is statutorily available, subject to conditions stated therein. It is generally accepted that such a right may be restricted with respect to essential services.

 

The right to strike often goes together with the right to lock out by employers. There is a debate whether the two rights enjoy equal weighting. The South African Constitutional Court gives the right to strike more weight than the right to lock out, because in the view of the court, “ Collective bargaining is based on the recognition of the fact that employers enjoy greater social and economic power than individual workers”.

 

It was stated in the South African case of Metal and Electrical Workers Union of South Africa v National Panasonic Union ,  1991(12) ILJ 533, per Conrandie J, that:

“ A strike is like a boxing match. The opponent tries within the rules to hurt the other as much as possible. There is a referee to see that the rules are observed. The Court is the referee. It does not intervene simply because one of the opponents is being hurt – that is the idea of the contest.

 

The referee may intervene when one of them is struck a blow below the belt – the parties to an an industrial contest take time and trouble to shape up their fight, there are all kinds of things which they are expected to do before they are permitted to enter the ring”.

 

On the matter of restriction of the right to strike with respect to essential services, Convention 87 confines, “ essential services for the purpose of limiting the right to strike to “ services the interruption of which would endanger life, personal safety or the health of part of or the whole of the population”. This view has been repeated on many occasions by the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Convention 87.

 

The jurisprudence of the Committee of Experts and writtings of labour law scholars often stress that to be compatible with fundamental right to collective bargaining by employees, essential services are to be given a strict and narrow meaning.

 

Earlier, I indicated that we are a constitutional democracy governed by a supreme constitution that entrenches the values of freedom, anti-discrimination  and human dignity. Parliament is enjoined, in fact, instructed by the constitution, to pass laws for the good order and government of the republic.

 

They are not permitted to pass laws as they please; laws  that may offend the constitution. Where statutory law is vague or unclear it must be interpreted in a manner that will give effect to the Constitution and where appropriate international law.

 

The Industrial Court understands the sensitivity of labour law that I earlier spoke of. In interpreting and applying statute law it has sought to ensure that its decisions, are fair and informed by international labour law. The understanding being that the ultimate objective of law is the welfare of society.

 

In its decisions the industrial court has always insisted that any dismissal of an employee, post probation, must be procedurally and substantively fair. In terms of the jurisprudence of the industrial court no employee can be dismissed at the whims and caprices of the employer without a valid reason. This jurisprudence has contributed to job security. In consequence of this jurisprudence our industrial court is held high esteem by other labour courts across the world and the international labour organization.

 

Any jurisprudence to the contrary; and that pays lip service to job security runs counter to the celebrated jurisprudence of the Industrial court as I have sought to indicate. Perhaps in order to ensure consistent jurisprudence on matters impacting on job security at the work place, it has become important to revisit the idea of the Labour Appeals Court that is constituted by experts in the field; experts that fully understand and appreciate the precise location of labour law at the intersection I earlier spoke of and the delicacy of labour law; and more importantly its role as an enabler of economic development. Labour must assist in ensuring that labour is productive and is not demotivated unnecessarily.

 

It is important that trade unions appreciate the nature and essence of law so that that they don’t regard law as the magic wand to resolve their problems and then overburden the courts with matters that can be resolved by stakeholders; and use courts only as a last resort.

 

There is always a danger that the courts’ credibility as impartial arbiters may suffer when the courts are used as sites of struggle in high profile polycentric cases whose resolution is not entirely dependent on textual provisions of the law, but rather on value judgements of the justices of the court.

 

As unions your main asset is the strength of your organizations; your ability to organize, defend and protect your interests. You need to understand and appreciate that law is a technique for the regulation of power. This is true of labour law. Power – the capacity effectively to direct the behaviour of others – is unevenly distributed – in all societies.

 

The power to make and enforce laws is social power. This power rests on many foundations, it may be based on prestige, dominance, wealth and ability to organise. The latter is the source of your power.

In short, as my revered brother and friend Justice Dikgang Moseneke, formerly the Deputy chief Justice of South Africa, and recently retired, would say: “You are your own liberators”. Lawyers and other experts may assist, but ultimately, you are your own liberators.

 

In pursuing your demands on what you consider due to you; you must be reasonable, rational and fair. You must refrain from making demands that are irrational and are not justifiable. Your demands must always be evidence driven. Nothing should be given that cannot be justified. Similarly, your employers must justify all its positions on the basis of evidence, and nothing less.

 

The culture of justification is part and parcel of a constitutional state ruled in accordance with the constitution, not the whims and caprices of anyone.

You must do nothing that contravenes the law; especially, the spirit and text of the constitution. Similarly government as the employer must do so; the latter, arguably having a heavier duty to lead by example; because disobedience of the law on its part amounts to saying to the populace that it is fine to disobey the law.

 

In the recent past BOPEU has been hailed as the union of choice by its members; it has been at the forefront of advancing and securing diverse range of benefits, maintaining and improving the living and working conditions of workers’ in Botswana and regulating the relations between workers and employers. Indeed it is true that a successful union is one that is internally strong that it may be effective in protecting the interests of workers.

 

However, history has shown us that the success of unions also lie with their relationship, rapport and liaison with employers as equal partners at the table. Sadly, it has become more evident that there are opposing forces between the workers’ and employers on the subject of Unions and various labour laws.

 

Often at times, employers the world over, have tended to adopt adversarial attitude towards Trade Unions, resisting Unions for the same reasons that workers desire them. As we celebrate fifty years of self-rule this attitude can and should no longer stand if we are to build a Botswana for all in which its economic success will be based on workers as the drivers of the economy.  

 

Our economy will not advance if we don’t take care of the welfare of those who create the country’s wealth, the workers. To this extent, workers need a living wage and not so much minimum wage. A minimum wage is about setting a wage floor under which no worker can earn.

 

A living wage on the other hand is the minimum income that necessary for a worker to meet his needs and that of his or her family. The scales of justice needs to be delicately balanced so that the wage regime does not in anyway imperil the development of the country. Slave wages are known undermine economic growth.

 

Mr President, I urge you to pay attention, to the matter of decent of decent work as defined by the ILO. The decent work agenda focusses on job creation, rights at work, social protection and social dialogue, with gender equality. The term decent work is promoted through the Decent Agenda and was coined by the Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Mr. Juan Somavia in 1999, who defined decent work as

 

 “productive work in which rights are protected, which generates an adequate income with adequate social protection. It marks the high road to economic and social development, a road in which employment, income and social protection can be achieved without compromising workers’ rights and sound standards” The ILO is also committed to promoting policies on wages and incomes that ensure a just share for all.

 

I must conclude my reflections by urging all stakeholders in the labour relations to work together as equal partners in the interest of our country. A motivated and hard working workforce is in the interest of the country. The workforce must engage with the employer with respect and their demands must be evidence based. Similarly, the government response or position must be evidence based.

 

Trade Unions are critical in maintaining workplace stability. A motivated public service tends to render high quality service to the public. In a properly functioning democracy no law should offend the values of freedom, human dignity and non discrimination. In our constitutional state, the above values define who we are as a people.

 

Speech by Professor Justice Oagile Bethuel Key Dingake Judge of the High Court (Botswana); Judge of Residual Special Court (Sierra Leone) at the BOPEU NEC congress in Francistown

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Opinions

IEC Disrespects Batswana: A Critical Analysis

10th November 2023

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has recently faced significant criticism for its handling of the voter registration exercise. In this prose I aim to shed light on the various instances where the IEC has demonstrated a lack of respect towards the citizens of Botswana, leading to a loss of credibility. By examining the postponements of the registration exercise and the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively, it becomes evident that the institution has disregarded its core mandate and the importance of its role in ensuring fair and transparent elections.

Incompetence or Disrespect?

One possible explanation for the IEC’s behavior is sheer incompetence. It is alarming to consider that the leadership of such a critical institution may lack the understanding of the importance of their mandate. The failure to communicate the reasons for the postponements in a timely manner raises questions about their ability to handle their responsibilities effectively. Furthermore, if the issue lies with government processes, it calls into question whether the IEC has the courage to stand up to the country’s leadership.

Another possibility is that the IEC lacks respect for its core clients, the voters of Botswana. Respect for stakeholders is crucial in building trust, and clear communication is a key component of this. The IEC’s failure to communicate accurate and complete information, despite having access to it, has fueled speculation and mistrust. Additionally, the IEC’s disregard for engaging with political parties, such as the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), further highlights this disrespect. By ignoring the UDC’s request to observe the registration process, the IEC demonstrates a lack of regard for its partners in the electoral exercise.

Rebuilding Trust and Credibility:

While allegations of political interference and security services involvement cannot be ignored, the IEC has a greater responsibility to ensure its own credibility. The institution did manage to refute claims by the DISS Director that the IEC database had been compromised, which is a positive step towards rebuilding trust. However, this remains a small glimmer of hope in the midst of the IEC’s overall disregard for the citizens of Botswana.

To regain the trust of Batswana, the IEC must prioritize respect for its stakeholders. Clear and timely communication is essential in this process. By engaging with political parties and addressing their concerns, the IEC can demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. It is crucial for the IEC to recognize that its credibility is directly linked to the trust it garners from the voters.

Conclusion:

The IEC’s recent actions have raised serious concerns about its credibility and respect for the citizens of Botswana. Whether due to incompetence or a lack of respect for stakeholders, the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively and handle its responsibilities has damaged its reputation. To regain trust and maintain relevance, the IEC must prioritize clear and timely communication, engage with political parties, and demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. Only by respecting the voters of Botswana can the IEC fulfill its crucial role in ensuring free and fair elections.

 

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Opinions

Fuelling Change: The Evolving Dynamics of the Oil and Gas Industry

4th April 2023

The Oil and Gas industry has undergone several significant developments and changes over the last few years. Understanding these developments and trends is crucial towards better appreciating how to navigate the engagement in this space, whether directly in the energy space or in associated value chain roles such as financing.

Here, we explore some of the most notable global events and trends and the potential impact or bearing they have on the local and global market.

Governments and companies around the world have been increasingly focused on transitioning towards renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. This shift is motivated by concerns about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Africa, including Botswana, is part of these discussions, as we work to collectively ensure a greener and more sustainable future. Indeed, this is now a greater priority the world over. It aligns closely with the increase in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing being observed. ESG investing has become increasingly popular, and many investors are now looking for companies that are focused on sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. This trend could have significant implications for the oil and fuel industry, which is often viewed as environmentally unsustainable. Relatedly and equally key are the evolving government policies. Government policies and regulations related to the Oil and Gas industry are likely to continue evolving with discussions including incentives for renewable energy and potentially imposing stricter regulations on emissions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a strong role. Over the last two years, the pandemic had a profound impact on the Oil and Gas industry (and fuel generally), leading to a significant drop in demand as travel and economic activity slowed down. As a result, oil prices plummeted, with crude oil prices briefly turning negative in April 2020. Most economies have now vaccinated their populations and are in recovery mode, and with the recovery of the economies, there has been recovery of oil prices; however, the pace and sustainability of recovery continues to be dependent on factors such as emergence of new variants of the virus.

This period, which saw increased digital transformation on the whole, also saw accelerated and increased investment in technology. The Oil and Gas industry is expected to continue investing in new digital technologies to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This also means a necessary understanding and subsequent action to address the impacts from the rise of electric vehicles. The growing popularity of electric vehicles is expected to reduce demand for traditional gasoline-powered cars. This has, in turn, had an impact on the demand for oil.

Last but not least, geopolitical tensions have played a tremendous role. Geopolitical tensions between major oil-producing countries can and has impacted the supply of oil and fuel. Ongoing tensions in the Middle East and between the US and Russia could have an impact on global oil prices further, and we must be mindful of this.

On the home front in Botswana, all these discussions are relevant and the subject of discussion in many corporate and even public sector boardrooms. Stanbic Bank Botswana continues to take a lead in supporting the Oil and Gas industry in its current state and as it evolves and navigates these dynamics. This is through providing financing to support Oil and Gas companies’ operations, including investments in new technologies. The Bank offers risk management services to help oil and gas companies to manage risks associated with price fluctuations, supply chain disruptions and regulatory changes. This includes offering hedging products and providing advice on risk management strategies.

Advisory and support for sustainability initiatives that the industry undertakes is also key to ensuring that, as companies navigate complex market conditions, they are more empowered to make informed business decisions. It is important to work with Oil and Gas companies to develop and implement sustainability strategies, such as reducing emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy. This is key to how partners such as Stanbic Bank work to support the sector.

Last but not least, Stanbic Bank stands firmly in support of Botswana’s drive in the development of the sector with the view to attain better fuel security and reduce dependence risk on imported fuel. This is crucial towards ensuring a stronger, stabler market, and a core aspect to how we can play a role in helping drive Botswana’s growth.  Continued understanding, learning, and sustainable action are what will help ensure the Oil and Gas sector is supported towards positive, sustainable and impactful growth in a manner that brings social, environmental and economic benefit.

Loago Tshomane is Manager, Client Coverage, Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), Stanbic Bank Botswana

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Opinions

Brands are important

27th March 2023

So, the conclusion is brands are important. I start by concluding because one hopes this is a foregone conclusion given the furore that erupts over a botched brand. If a fast food chef bungles a food order, there’d be possibly some isolated complaint thrown. However, if the same company’s marketing expert or agency cooks up a tasteless brand there is a country-wide outcry. Why?  Perhaps this is because brands affect us more deeply than we care to understand or admit. The fact that the uproar might be equal parts of schadenfreude, black twitter-esque criticism and, disappointment does not take away from the decibel of concern raised.

A good place to start our understanding of a brand is naturally by defining what a brand is. Marty Neumier, the genius who authored The Brand Gap, offers this instructive definition – “A brand is a person’s gut feel about a product or service”. In other words, a brand is not what the company says it is. It is what the people feel it is. It is the sum total of what it means to them. Brands are perceptions. So, brands are defined by individuals not companies. But brands are owned by companies not individuals. Brands are crafted in privacy but consumed publicly. Brands are communal. Granted, you say. But that doesn’t still explain why everybody and their pet dog feel entitled to jump in feet first into a brand slug-fest armed with a hot opinion. True. But consider the following truism.

 

Brands are living. They act as milestones in our past. They are signposts of our identity. Beacons of our triumphs. Indexes of our consumption. Most importantly, they have invaded our very words and world view. Try going for just 24 hours without mentioning a single brand name. Quite difficult, right? Because they live among us they have become one of us. And we have therefore built ‘brand bonds’ with them. For example, iPhone owners gather here. You love your iPhone. It goes everywhere. You turn to it in moments of joy and when we need a quick mood boost. Notice how that ‘relationship’ started with desire as you longingly gazed upon it in a glossy brochure. That quickly progressed to asking other people what they thought about it. Followed by the zero moment of truth were you committed and voted your approval through a purchase. Does that sound like a romantic relationship timeline. You bet it does. Because it is. When we conduct brand workshops we run the Brand Loyalty ™ exercise wherein we test people’s loyalty to their favourite brand(s). The results are always quite intriguing. Most people are willing to pay a 40% premium over the standard price for ‘their’ brand. They simply won’t easily ‘breakup’ with it. Doing so can cause brand ‘heart ache’. There is strong brand elasticity for loved brands.

 

Now that we know brands are communal and endeared, then companies armed with this knowledge, must exercise caution and practise reverence when approaching the subject of rebranding. It’s fragile. The question marketers ought to ask themselves before gleefully jumping into the hot rebranding cauldron is – Do we go for an Evolution (partial rebrand) or a Revolution(full rebrand)? An evolution is incremental. It introduces small but significant changes or additions to the existing visual brand. Here, think of the subtle changes you’ve seen in financial or FMCG brands over the decades. Evolution allows you to redirect the brand without alienating its horde of faithful followers. As humans we love the familiar and certain. Change scares us. Especially if we’ve not been privy to the important but probably blinkered ‘strategy sessions’ ongoing behind the scenes. Revolutions are often messy. They are often hard reset about-turns aiming for a total new look and ‘feel’.

 

 

Hard rebranding is risky business. History is littered with the agony of brands large and small who felt the heat of public disfavour. In January 2009, PepsiCo rebranded the Tropicana. When the newly designed package hit the shelves, consumers were not having it. The New York Times reports that ‘some of the commenting described the new packaging as ‘ugly’ ‘stupid’. They wanted their old one back that showed a ripe orange with a straw in it. Sales dipped 20%. PepsiCo reverted to the old logo and packaging within a month. In 2006 Mastercard had to backtrack away from it’s new logo after public criticism, as did Leeds United, and the clothing brand Gap. AdAge magazine reports that critics most common sentiment about the Gap logo was that it looked like something a child had created using a clip-art gallery. Botswana is no different. University of Botswana had to retreat into the comfort of the known and accepted heritage strong brand.  Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital was badgered with complaints till it ‘adjusted’ its logo.

 

 

So if the landscape of rebranding is so treacherous then whey take the risk? Companies need to soberly assess they need for a rebrand. According to the fellows at Ignyte Branding a rebrand is ignited by the following admissions :

Our brand name no longer reflects our company’s vision.
We’re embarrassed to hand out our business cards.

Our competitive advantage is vague or poorly articulated.
Our brand has lost focus and become too complex to understand. Our business model or strategy has changed.
Our business has outgrown its current brand.
We’re undergoing or recently underwent a merger or acquisition. Our business has moved or expanded its geographic reach.
We need to disassociate our brand from a negative image.
We’re struggling to raise our prices and increase our profit margins. We want to expand our influence and connect to new audiences. We’re not attracting top talent for the positions we need to fill. All the above are good reasons to rebrand.

The downside to this debacle is that companies genuinely needing to rebrand might be hesitant or delay it altogether. The silver lining I guess is that marketing often mocked for its charlatans, is briefly transformed from being the Archilles heel into Thanos’ glove in an instant.

So what does a company need to do to safely navigate the rebranding terrain? Companies need to interrogate their brand purpose thoroughly. Not what they think they stand for but what they authentically represent when seen through the lens of their team members. In our Brand Workshop we use a number of tools to tease out the compelling brand truth. This section always draws amusing insights. Unfailingly, the top management (CEO & CFO)always has a vastly different picture of their brand to the rest of their ExCo and middle management, as do they to the customer-facing officer. We have only come across one company that had good internal alignment. Needless to say that brand is doing superbly well.

There is need a for brand strategies to guide the brand. One observes that most brands ‘make a plan’ as they go along. Little or no deliberate position on Brand audit, Customer research, Brand positioning and purpose, Architecture, Messaging, Naming, Tagline, Brand Training and may more. A brand strategy distils why your business exists beyond making money – its ‘why’. It defines what makes your brand what it is, what differentiates it from the competition and how you want your customers to perceive it. Lacking a brand strategy disadvantages the company in that it appears soul-less and lacking in personality. Naturally, people do not like to hang around humans with nothing to say. A brand strategy understands the value proposition. People don’t buy nails for the nails sake. They buy nails to hammer into the wall to hang pictures of their loved ones. People don’t buy make up because of its several hues and shades. Make up is self-expression. Understanding this arms a brand with an iron clad clad strategy on the brand battlefield.

But perhaps you’ve done the important research and strategy work. It’s still possible to bungle the final look and feel.  A few years ago one large brand had an extensive strategy done. Hopes were high for a top tier brand reveal. The eventual proposed brand was lack-lustre. I distinctly remember, being tasked as local agency to ‘land’ the brand and we outright refused. We could see this was a disaster of epic proportions begging to happen. The brand consultants were summoned to revise the logo. After a several tweaks and compromises the brand landed. It currently exists as one of the country’s largest brands. Getting the logo and visual look right is important. But how does one know if they are on the right path? Using the simile of a brand being a person – The answer is how do you know your outfit is right? It must serve a function, be the right fit and cut, it must be coordinated and lastly it must say something about you. So it is possible to bath in a luxurious bath gel, apply exotic lotion, be facebeat and still somehow wear a faux pas outfit. Avoid that.

Another suggestion is to do the obvious. Pre-test the logo and its look and feel on a cross section of your existing and prospective audience. There are tools to do this. Their feedback can save you money, time and pain. Additionally one must do another obvious check – use Google Image to verify the visual outcome and plain Google search to verify the name. These are so obvious they are hopefully for gone conclusions. But for the brands that have gone ahead without them, I hope you have not concluded your brand journeys as there is a world of opportunity waiting to be unlocked with the right brand strategy key.

Cliff Mada is Head of ArmourGetOn Brand Consultancy, based in Gaborone and Cape Town.

cliff@armourgeton.com

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