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Friday, 19 April 2024

The great wall of America?

Opinions

"The truth is, our immigration system is worse than anyone realizes. But the facts aren’t known because the media won’t report on them, the politicians won’t talk about them, and the special interests spend a lot of money trying to cover them up.

Today you will get the truth….

We also have to be honest about the fact that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate. It is our right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish here.

Then there is the issue of security. Countless innocent American lives have been stolen because our politicians have failed in their duty to secure our borders and enforce our laws. Countless Americans who have died in recent years would be alive today if not for the open border policies of this Administration. This includes incredible Americans like 21-year-old Sarah Root. The man who killed her arrived at the border, entered federal custody, and then was released into a U.S. community under the policies of this White House. He was released again after the crime, and is now at large…

Hillary Clinton, for instance, talks constantly about her fears that families will be separated. But she’s not talking about the American families who have been permanently separated from their loved ones because of a preventable death. No, she’s only talking about families who came here in violation of the law…
We will treat everyone living or residing in our country with dignity. We will be fair, just and compassionate to all. But our greatest compassion must be for American citizens.

Now that you’ve heard about Hillary Clinton’s plan – about which she has not answered a single substantive question – let me tell you about my plan.
While Hillary Clinton meets only with donors and lobbyists, my plan was crafted with the input from federal immigration officers, along with top immigration experts who represent workers, not corporations. I also worked with lawmakers who’ve led on this issue on behalf of American citizens for many years, and most importantly, I’ve met with the people directly impacted by these policies.

Number One: We will build a wall along the Southern Border

On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable physical wall on the southern border. We will use the best technology, including above-and below-ground sensors, towers, aerial surveillance and manpower to supplement the wall, find and dislocate tunnels, and keep out the criminal cartels, and Mexico will pay for the wall.

Number Two: End Catch-And-Release

Under my Administration, anyone who illegally crosses the border will be detained until they are removed out of our country.
Number Three: Zero tolerance for criminal aliens

According to federal data, there are at least 2 million criminal aliens now inside the country. We will begin moving them out day one, in joint operations with local, state and federal law enforcement.

Beyond the 2 million, there are a vast number of additional criminal illegal immigrants who have fled or evaded justice. But their days on the run will soon be over. They go out, and they go out fast.

Moving forward, we will issue detainers for all illegal immigrants who are arrested for any crime whatsoever, and they will be placed into immediate removal proceedings. We will terminate the Obama Administration’s deadly non-enforcement policies that allow thousands of criminal aliens to freely roam our streets.

Since 2013 alone, the Obama Administration has allowed 300,000 criminal aliens to return back into U.S. communities – these are individuals encountered or identified by ICE but who not detained or processed for deportation.

My plan also includes cooperating closely with local jurisdictions to remove criminal aliens.

We’ve admitted 59 million immigrants to the United States between 1965 and 2015.

Many of these arrivals have greatly enriched our country. But we now have an obligation to them, and to their children, to control future immigration – as we have following previous immigration waves – to ensure assimilation, integration and upward mobility.

Within just a few years immigration as a share of national population is set to break all historical records.

The time has come for a new immigration commission to develop a new set of reforms to our legal immigration system in order to achieve the following goals:

To keep immigration levels, measured by population share, within historical norms

To select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in U.S. society, and their ability to be financially self-sufficient. We need a system that serves our needs – remember, it’s America First.

To choose immigrants based on merit, skill and proficiency

And to establish new immigration controls to boost wages and to ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first.

We want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally and properly-vetted, and in a manner that serves the national interest…" – Donal J. Trump, Immigration Speech, Phoenix, Arizona (August 31, 2016).

I've just given you an excerpt from the speech given by the Republican Presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump last week in Phoenix, Arizona, hot on the heels of his much vaunted meeting with the President of Mexico. It was a much anticipated speech, for many reasons. Once and for all, the American electorate wanted to hear in clear and concise terms exactly what Donald Trump's policies were.

Most importantly, uncomfortable Republicans were waiting with bated breath to see if Trump's divisive, hardline, and even racist politics were going to be finally toned down in order to persuade the minorities whom he had consistently insulted since announcing his candidacy in June 2015. And, if his meeting with the Mexican President was anything to go by, hopes were high that Trump would finally play by the rules if he had any serious hopes of making 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue his home from January 2017. Alas! How wrong everybody was!

The subdued, cordial and affable Trump of a few hours earlier in Mexico City was nowhere to be found that evening in Phoenix. It was a classic case of Jekyll and Hyde! Instead of following the advice even if those within his inner circle to deliver a speech that would not aggravate and bastardize immigrants, Trump chose to double down on his rhetoric that saw him bulldoze 15 other candidates in the Republican race. He came with all guns blazing. I was watching the speech. I'm not an American. I'm not a Republican.

I'm not a Democrat either. But I was gobsmacked. Trump went on to give what was one of the darkest and most chilling speeches I've ever heard. Don't get me wrong. He scored very well on delivery. It was the contents of his speech that were dark and ominous. I had visions of Hitler's Nuremberg Rallies, whipping crowds into a frenzy with nationalistic propaganda crafted by Josef Goebbels. His phraseology rang eerily close to the language of despots.

Phrases like "Only people who love us" and "ideological tests" are the staple of dictators. Only dictators are obsessed with being loved and ensuring that everybody subscribes to their narrow ideologies. His hardcore base lapped it up. But the discerning, even within his own party, were properly repulsed. In fact, several of his leading Latino supporters resigned immediately after the speech. Even Republicans who were hoping to be persuaded, who had given him the benefit of the doubt for over a year, said he now gave them enough reason to disregard him as worthy of their vote.

In his speech, Trump pretty much outlined a fascist policy that would bastardize and demonize immigrants. His feverish nationalist agenda was no different in passion, conviction, and tone to the preamble leading up to Hitler's ascendancy to being the Fuhrer of the Third Reich. Just like Hitler exaggerated Germany's problems and laid the blame squarely on the Jews, Trump, last Wednesday, blew the American immigration situation way out of proportion, exaggerating and coloring facts, and blaming it all on illegal immigrants.

You'd swear that America is overrun with illegal immigrants on the rampage murdering people! And that's the picture that Trump painted last Tuesday. And, to cap it off, he paraded mothers who had lost their children to murder perpetrated by illegal immigrants. It was a powerful optical message; putting a face to problem his campaign rides on. But that was manipulation and emotional blackmail.

Pure and simple. More people have been murdered by American citizens than by illegal immigrants. Of over the supposed 11 million illegal immigrants in America, less than 3 percent have been convicted of crimes, whether felonies or misdemeanors. But to listen to Trump, you'd think there are 11 million murderers of Latino descent on the loose in America!

Here in Botswana, we have an identical immigration problem with Zimbabwean illegal immigrants. But it will be reckless to exaggerate the situation so much that we blame Botswana's economic performance on Zimbabweans, and claim that there are countless Batswana who would still be alive if it weren't for Zimbabweans! Imagine the clown who can come proposing that the answer lies in building a Great Wall from Kazungula to Martin's Drift to keep Zimbabweans out! It's absurd! I'm not going to question or insult the intelligence of Republican voters, but it beggars belief how Trump is the nominee with his ridiculous promises of a "Great Wall," a wall that would cost in the region of $25,000,000,000 to build! Yes, Trump has won the nominee card by promising to build a wall stretching 3,200 kilometers! To listen to him speak, you'd swear he's running for Emperor! He seems to forget that there is an American Congress and House of Representatives that needs to sign off such a project; and there are many Republicans who neither like him nor his proposed wall. There are so many near insurmountable challenges to building such a wall, not to mention its futility. There are physical and legal hurdles to be overcome before such a wall can become a reality. As things stand, I think that Trump finds his back against the wall, no pun intended.

Most disturbing of all, however, is his promise of mass deportations. I'm not in anyway saying illegal immigrants must be treated with kid gloves and handed citizenship. But Trump's politics fly in the face of the very fabric of American civilization and history. Like it or not, America is a nation of immigrants; immigrants who went there in search of opportunity and a new start. Even the Caucasian majority is not monolithic; there are many subsets that don't even speak English. Trump's wife herself is still not mastering English. Her East European accent is unmistakeable. She's from Slovenia. A lot of Trump's buildings that have made him a multi-billionaire, rose on the backs of illegal immigrants, most of them Latinos whom he has called "thieves, murderers, and rapists." Everybody seems to conveniently forget that the "real" Americans are the Native Americans (Indians), those poor souls who were swept under the rug of history by the "Manifest Destiny" doctrine of White settlers. If everybody is to be sent home because they came illegally, then everybody Caucasian must pack. Only the Indians, who can now only be found in pockets of reservations here and there, banished to a lifetime of drunkenness and gambling, would have the right to remain. Everybody else but them is not "native" to America if we go all the way back to the first arrivals at Plymouth Rock.

Let me close quoting from Chauncey DeVega, a politics staff writer for Salon, "Last week the chattering classes and “smart people” were excited about Trump’s promise to launch an “outreach” campaign to African-Americans and Latinos. On Wednesday Donald Trump travelled to Mexico to meet with President Peña Nieto. Voices in the American corporate news media then fawned over Trump. The trip allowed him to look “presidential.” He was "softening" his position on illegal immigration. The great “pivot” had finally arrived. Trump could now be put into the familiar and comfortable “horse race” model of American campaigns and elections; he was now a “normal” presidential candidate.

Trump, the consummate showman, carnival barker and professional wrestling villain would swerve the American corporate news media once again. Several hours after returning from Mexico to a rabid crowd of supporters in Phoenix, he would give one of the most violent, vicious, vile and repugnant speeches in modern American political history. It was the political equivalent of watching a toilet or cesspool overflow, where instead of running away in disgust, Trump’s supplicants enthusiastically wallowed and frolicked in the waste.

His speech in Phoenix followed the standard script. Trump would speak in a stream of consciousness where one semi-related thought flowed into another. Facts are disregarded. The truth is made malleable. Lies are effortlessly told. The crowd responds with howls about killing Hillary Clinton or in anger at President Barack Obama or in support of the American Il Duce Donald Trump and how he will “make America great again” by not allowing “us” to be “bullied.”

There was an added intensity to Trump’s Phoenix speech. He premiered his ominously named “10-point plan.” His vague promises about how best to punish “illegal immigrants” would now be given a laser focus. Trump will apparently create a Gestapo-like force that on the day he formally becomes president will somehow immediately remove millions of people from the United States. The country’s police will now be turned loose and taken off the chain to purge illegal immigrants from the body politic — a chilling thought given how America’s militarized police already brutalize people of color.

In Trump’s plan, refugees from the Middle East all are terrorists and a potential third column with a knife at the heart of America. “Illegal immigrants” are rapists, gang members, child molesters, thieves and killers who steal jobs from hardworking Americans. These two groups of evildoers will be confronted by Trump’s “great American wall” and a resurgent military and national security state that, under his special leadership, will protect the country.

Trump crescendoed by introducing family members of Americans who have been killed by “illegal aliens.” Now christened the “Angel Moms,” they proceeded to captivate Trump’s audience with horrific stories of murder and mayhem. This was Trump’s “Willie Horton” moment. In 1988, George H.W. Bush featured a notoriously racist campaign ad about a black man who was a convicted rapist and murderer. It was extremely effective in winning over racially resentful and anxious white voters. Almost 30 years later, Trump and his advisers have simply updated the Republican Party’s racist Southern strategy to now include “terrorists” and nebulous brown “illegal immigrants” from Latin and South America.

The "Angel Moms” are the immediate human embodiment of (white) victimhood. Instead of presenting abstract discussions about “illegal immigration” and “crime, the children of the “Angel Moms” must be avenged if justice is to be done. Moreover, if the state and the police have failed the “Angel Moms,” then it is Trump and his supporters who must fill the void of safety and security that has been denied the American people. 

This is a not too subtle appeal to vigilante violence: It is the logical outcome of Trump’s persona, a man who boasted that he can shoot people in the street without consequence, who imagines himself to be Dirty Harry or Charles Bronson in a 1980s action movie and who believes that the United States’ inner cities are dystopic hellholes overrun with illegal immigrants and black criminals.

Many think pieces, articles, “hot takes” and essays have pondered if Trump is a fascist. He satisfies many of the criteria.

Trump does not believe in freedom of the press. He wants to overturn standing political norms, values, traditions and institutions in order to return to a fictive past. Trump is a militant nationalist. Trump’s movement is based on social dominance behavior and authoritarianism. He is a strongman and leader of a cult of personality that emphasizes action, strength and hypermasculine energy. A direct appeal or encouragement to violence against the Other was one of the few remaining criteria for fascism that Donald Trump had not yet fulfilled. His speech in Phoenix has finally checked off that empty box.

The situation is no longer funny, a moment for liberal schadenfreude at the expense of a broken Republican Party and its rubes and bigots or an entertaining political car wreck and spectacle. Matters are deadly serious.

Trump’s rhetoric is eventually going to get someone killed. The mainstream corporate news media that enabled his demagoguery and rise to power will have blood on their hands. The “decent Republicans” who voted for Trump will have blood on their hands. Trump and his minions will most certainly have blood on their hands.

The rise of Trump and the full-on conversation of the Republican Party into the country’s largest white identity organization represent a nadir in contemporary American politics.

I have never before seen a lynch mob on television. That changed after I watched  Trump’s rally in Phoenix on Wednesday night. I was left wondering, Are we not better than this? I have no doubt that our better angels will ultimately prevail. But Donald Trump’s ascendance is a reminder that, to borrow from Sinclair Lewis and Theodor Ardono, “Yes, it can happen here.”"

Asked about his grand plan for this fantasy wall he so feverishly sells like snake oil to the gullible, he simply answered that if the Chinese could build a 13,000-mile long wall 2,000 years ago with far less sophisticated technology and cheap labor, then America can certainly pull it off in the 21st century. And, get this, he says Mexico will pay for the wall. I guess we await to see "The Great Wall of America." But I'm not crossing my fingers.

After all, he first needs to win the elections in November. And, as things presently stand, the only wall he has managed to build so far is a Great Wall between himself and the Black and Latino voters he desperately needs in order to have any shot at beating Secretary Clinton in the race for the White House.

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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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