From the perspective of professionalism, and as brand managers, we must at all times set our gaze on the critical elements of Brand Personality, Brand Offer, Brand Essence and Brand Position(ing). These out together, make up the Brand Equity. In turn, let us establish this, Brand Equity Is Sum Total Of The Value Of Any Given Brand. This Value can be defined along the line of the varying indicators for measuring (market performance – in quantifiable terms), competitive rating and personality profile. The elements are frontally intricate, as with a web. But those are the critical elements in composition of A Brand from the perspective of Brand Management.
However, these elements may come across as intellectual to a not-so-challenged Brand Manager. Prevalent commercial attitude and wealth optimisation culture has so greatly tampered with professionalism, rules and guidelines are subdued in the haste for quick-fix. Over time, however, the constancy of value over form keep taking the wind off the sail…rules as with values, are enduring in reward terms, especially. That is why we always raise the red flag whenever and wherever we notice compromises.
Compromises in professionalism are hydra-headed and evident in almost every industry in our commercial eco-space. We were just taking a look at the confusion happening in brand management in the commercial banking sector, when the issue of DANA threw itself in our radar. What comes across, talking about managing commercial bank brands, is that the space has been thrown to sales men instead of brand managers; collectively, commercial bank brands don’t seem to appreciate the rules of brand management and have resulted to aggressive selling. Interestingly, the best defence they can come up with would be that they are engaged in marketing…which also further deepens the confusion. That explains why their communication does not differentiate between corporate and product campaign. What we see as the problem with the new phase of brand communication in the commercial banking market, is that there is really no Product to sell. What has been over the years, is that banks hold on to commercialised banking service, making what should ordinarily be a complimentary customer service, and turn same into a revenue-generating offer they brand and sell as a product. Therefore, the subsector players have completely lost focus of their essence.
DANA Air’s case, to us, requires greater urgency, and so here we are.
DANA Air needs to know brands are not left to rumour and street-level conversation. That is not to say public conversations do not centre on brands, but it says the primary responsibility of any brand’s manager is to manage its perception, awareness level among the public, its image among the same public and the public’s perception of the brand. Because we know the public’s perception of any brand starts and ends with the members’ Experience of the given brand, ensuring that a brand delivers at those critical value touch-points that leaves that Experience of interest with the target audience, becomes the start point for every brand’s manifestation – whether in form of communication or target-market engagement.
Going back to the Essence of any brand, it takes the brand with a clear understanding and establishment of its Essence to create its desired image among members of its public(s) or grow the positive perception in its public(s). Instructively, therefore, it is the responsibility of the brand manager (one that must be consciously undertaken), to determine the trajectory, tone-of-voice and the emotional direction of Public Conversation concerning any given Brand. However, we must note, defining and manifesting any brand’s essence, derives from scientifically articulating the external influencers related to the brand’s being, such as market insight, especially activities of competition and how they relate with the same target market such a brand is focused on. Then-on, the consideration shifts to concern for the internal issues such as internal capabilities and readiness to meet a defined need, for which the brand is designed…and in total, the Brand Essence.
Therefore, building up on the value of any brand’s equity, requires a competitive Brand Essence. Brand growth is predicated upon the strength and direction of its Essence. It is a strategic tool for any brand to work with. A Brand’s essence impacts on every other decision to be taken in the life of the brand; and they include its culture, associates, tone-of-voice, communication and public engagement.
From the pattern, flavour and bitter nature of public discussion of Brand DANA Air, it seems to the trained eye, it did not pay attention to the scientific process of brand building. It is either that, or its brand building process did not quite capture the place and importance of its Essence. DANA Air has thrown itself to the dogs, in a market-space full of sharks and barracudas (as one of my bosses, Victor Johnson, would say). Otherwise, how does one describe a brand that leaves its public image and reception to the openness of gossip at the public conversation, and sheer gossip? How long will it take DANA Air to know that gossips are never supportive of positive aspiration?
Could it be that DANA Air does not have a communications team? Or, is it that the in-house model does not see the need to engage professional brand management consultants, to manage the brand? Could it be the corporate management policy of the Airline still mistake Nigeria local market for granted? Before its very eyes, the social media has torn the brand to shreds; advising ‘loved ones’ against flying DANA Air, because the brand is not capable of providing safe air travel, has become another way of showing love, care and concern. The social media space is awash with detailed narratives (some versions even come as signed by one of DANA pilot) of how unsafe DANA Air is, warning the public to avoid it.
Yet the brand is quiet.
To even stretch the narrative a little further, the ‘public information’ says the DANA Aircraft are not maintained, they are scrappy and risky. According to aspect of the ‘news’, there is even a distant connection between the race of the brand owners and the state of their aircraft (compromised maintenance status due to thriftiness). As with every rumour, the public information drags some elements in support of credibility with it.
We know, however, that the aviation industry is highly regulated. It is inconceivable that aircraft as bad as described in the social media newsreel would be cleared to fly in Nigeria. But is the public provided with any options in this case? The public cannot begin to bother with the veracity of stories that are sent around for their collective and individual safety. That this airline has recorded a crash before automatically authenticates any such warnings as this, before the public.
DANA Air must defend itself against gossip. It must take responsibility for its worth; its personality, its competitiveness, its brand image/reputation and ultimately it’s Essence. Its owners must take the deliberate investment approach in supporting the brand for competitive presence; being thrifty in considering the issues of brand management and marketing communication is playing the fool. DANA Air must take charge of its personality and competitive engagement if it plans to go the long-run.