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Brands - December 4, 2018

Experts advocate behavioural change in managing Brand Lagos

From (r) Lawyer and media enthusiast, Richard Akinola, Lolu Akinwunmi, immediate past Chairman of BJAN, Goddy Ofose, Kehinde Bamigbetan, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lagos State, Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, Group CEO, CMC Connect Burson-Marsteller (L) and Joe Onourah. 

By Amechi Obiakpu

Experts in the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) space have called for a behavioural change among stakeholders and managers of Lagos State as a brand.

They say that, the drive towards making Lagos achieve the mega city status can be achieved in no distant time if concerted effort is put in place by the state government to give direction both to policy makers and the constant influx of visitors to the state on a regular basis.

The experts said this penultimate Friday, in Ikeja, at the annual Brands and Marketing Conference, organised by Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria (BJAN).

They spoke on the theme: “Brand Lagos: Challenges, opportunities and lessons”.

Lead speaker, Lolu Akinwunmi, Managing Director, Prima Garnet Africa and former APCON Chairman, said Lagos is a destination point for all businesses, even if they have branches in other states.

“With a GDP of about $136m at the time, Lagos had made giant progress over the years and fast attaining the mega city status,” he said.

“We have to look at opportunities within the context of the importance of Nigeria as a nation. While Lagos boasts of its own potentials, they are relevant only within the context of what Nigeria is and offers. But first we must accept that there is no perfect Place Brand. Every brand has its weaknesses: Johannesburg and New York have higher crime rates than Lagos, yet no one has typified them as crime capitals of the world. More drugs are consumed in the Bronx than in Lagos, yet the US is never classified a drug country. Italy and some east European countries have a history of organized crime, fraud and corruption, and yet none of them is dubbed a corrupt or “419” nation. And evidenced by comments of expatriates who visit Lagos for one reason or the other, it is said to be the world’s best kept secret; yet, the same expatriates are the first to spread negative tales about Lagos and Nigeria!

Differentiating between Destination Branding and Destination Marketing, Lolu noted that, Destination Branding is about who you are, while Destination Marketing is about how you communicate who you are.

He observed that Destination Branding is looking at what makes the brand/destination stand out, through core marketing communications.

Akinwunmi listed corruption and insufficient deliverables, insensitivity to the welfare of the people, security and lack of adherence to the rule of law as some of the brand erodant of Lagos.

He wondered why some of the cities in the world with high crime rate like Johannesburg and Bronz in the USA, are not labelled crime nations but, Lagos with less rate is being identified as one.

He therefore advised that, for the government to be able to achieve its branding expectations, it should among others set up an ad hoc committee made up of seasoned professionals and experienced civil servants to determine the strategy and scope of the branding project. On approval of its recommendation, the committee will hand over to a special purpose vehicle set up by the government to be known as the Lagos Branding Project Business Support Group (LBPBSG), which he said should have the following mandate:

  1. Implement the agreed strategy of the Ad hoc Branding Committee by putting a structure and strategy in place to run the project.
  2. Generate the funds and goodwill needed for the implementation through the agreed PPP process, but especially from the private sector, showing them opportunities and benefits for involvement.

Reacting to Akinwunmi’ paper, Odion Alebua, Chief Executive Officer of Modion communications, said, Lagos has communicated clearly its intention in business and tourism.

He pointed out that, lagos is comples because, it is the microcosm of Nigeria hence, there is a huge difference between it and other states.

However, he is concern that, for a state which pride itself as a centre of attraction for other states, in the country, its destination point sends a wrong signal when people touch down at the airports in Lagos.

“Destination branding is cultural oriented, if it is so, we can go back and look at what was Lagos, what is Lagos now and what will Lagos be,” he said.

He advised the authorities to always ensure that the entry points to Lagos state are free of offensive stench that sometimes greets visitors when they arrive the airport, which according send a strong message to how serious Lagos want to be perceived.

On his part, Joe Onoura, representative of the Acting Registrar of APCON, Mrs Ijedi Iyorha, said many of the problems in the state, are as a result of the influx of people hourly or daily, which he said was understandably.

“People tend to go to where there appear to be life, Lagos fits that scenario and there is no policy that hinders movement,” he said.

Continuing, he said: “I want to see a situation where the economic and political influences in Lagos is replicated in other states to reduce the influx of people in the state”.

For Mike Dada, Chief Executive Officer, PRM Africa, there has to be a deliberate will of the people to promote Lagos as a brand. He said, the challenges of branding Lagos has much to do with the leadership as much as the followership.

“Between 10 and 15 years ago, Rwanda was a no go area, but, today, it is a different story. The people there will seize every opportunity to sell the country to you, including the taxi drivers. It is no longer tutsi or Utu, but Rwanda,” he said.

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