To brand Nigeria, brand yourself
When John F. Kennedy famously made the statement ‘ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country’, he wasn’t talking about branding. Rather he was evoking the spirit of nationalism in Americans. With typical American oratory, he inspired in his people a strong passion for uplifting their country, giving each citizen a sense of pride and accomplishment. It was such a powerful statement other countries unofficially borrowed it to motivate their people too. But say this to Nigerians and they would most probably scoff at you. We are continuously disenchanted by the way things are and by the many decades of misrule and arrested development. We are disillusioned by a seemingly hopeless system, where the same failed leaders are recycled for us to perpetuate the same old failed ideas and strategies. It seems that new dawn we all crave is never going to break.
Against this background and the legendary notoriety of our public officials and political leaders, can we serious ask Nigerians to ‘ask not what your country can do for you’? Does it make sense in a country where citizens are refugees in their own country but are rather called Internally Displaced Persons? Does it stand to reason, in a country where the lawmakers are law breakers and each is paid enough to lift an entire local government area out of poverty? Those who crafted the ‘Change Begins with Me’ campaign are obviously out of tune with the reality on ground and the general disappointment of the majority of Nigerians. After campaigning on the platform of CHANGE, and the people, desperate to see real change in the way they are governed, vote you in, you now turn around and tell them Change begins with them.
Seriously? Our governments it seems, will never run out of new ways to disappoint us. Since many of us have fashioned out ways to thrive despite the shameful acts going on in our corridors of power, we may as well take things a step further by branding ourselves as a way to make our nation a better brand. We have seen hope in the state of hopelessness and we have resolved to forge ahead in spite of our governments. I am talking about all the resilient Nigerians making significant strides in business and other areas of human endeavour. I am referring to the millions of our people who daily demonstrate the never-say-die Nigerian spirit which always finds a way where there seems to be no way. We all have this spirit in us if only we can reach deep within and tap into that limitless resource that God has infused into our DNA. Each of us can make a difference in our respective little corners.
While leading a session on Personal Branding a few days ago, I made it clear to the participants that building a strong personal brand is a precondition to achieving success in life. And the first step to building a successful personal brand is to develop a personal brand value proposition. This means you must determine how you will harness your God-given talents and attributes to create value for the people around you. In creating value for others, you are creating value for yourself because value begets value. In constantly thinking of how you can use what makes you different to make a difference, you are inevitably building a successful life. We are all created unique and that is why no two people have the same fingerprint. It is simply amazing. By the same token, each of us is blessed with unique talents and attributes. For those who may not have developed their talents or are not self-aware enough to even recognize such talents, you must do the necessary soul searching. Discovering and harnessing these talents to the benefit of your community is what is meant by ‘finding your life’s purpose’.
Developing your personal brand value proposition means you’re building a strong character. It means you have something of value to offer those around you. It means you keep your word. It means you are building trust. And when people trust you, they will help you. Trust is the foundation on which successful brands are built. It is also the foundation for enduring personal success. It takes supreme self-discipline to keep doing the right thing especially in our society where wrong is right and abnormality has become the norm. It may feel like swimming against the tide. But the right decisions are often the hardest to take. You must therefore make a promise to yourself to be the best you can be and to create value for others. You are not doing this for others. You are doing it for yourself. Nobody can succeed alone. We all depend on others.
One of the reasons we are failing as a people, is simply that we have yielded to the pressure to cut corners, to break the eternal laws of nature, to cheat, to think only about ourselves without realizing that in so doing, we are destroying ourselves. Where the poor is hungry, the rich cannot sleep. So why chase riches by all means and at the detriment of those around you, without caring to use the same wealth to the benefit of your community? This ruthless selfishness is what drives our political leaders to plunder the common wealth and leave the masses in chronic poverty.
The content of your character is what determines enduring personal success. You must therefore build a good character. Just like we do with product branding, the content must promise and deliver real value, before we move on to the packaging. Contrary to what many think, branding is not simply a matter of packaging. If the content does not deliver value, no matter how well you package it, it will still fail. In the realm of personal branding, many think it is all about appearance, while we all know that appearance is often deceptive. This fatuous belief in appearances, is what drives many of our political leaders to create individuality in their appearance, while there is no value in their thinking. They devise unique shapes of caps and attire, while they offer no unique solutions to the problems we have elected them to solve. They adorn all these clownish gowns while offering hollowness of thought in lieu of public service.
We must build our personal brands on the platform of value creation. This is a sure way to success. And by so doing, we are building a nation of successful people. And a nation of successful people is a successful nation. Muyiwa Kayode is CEO at USP Brand Management and author, The Seven Dimensions of Branding. Brand Nation is a platform for promoting national development based on the universal principles of branding.
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