Monday, April 03, 2006

Branding in Nigeria

Had an interesting conversation with the creative director for the Nigerian office of one of the big global ad agencies on the weekend. He was bemoaning his clients for their lack of imagination, innovation or experimentation. I suggested that Nigeria, being a conservative society, might lead to timidity among his clients. He disagreed. He opined that many of his Nigerian (he's a Brit) friends are highly creative and dynamic outside of work hours, but in the office, the hierarchical organisational culture clamps itself down. This chimes with my experience, where innovation amongst the rank and file is not palated, let alone embraced. Apart from one or two exceptions, oga syndrome rules the roost. We are yet to see horizontalisation of organograms in the services sector. It will surely come.

Meanwhile, it seems to me that the mimetic nature of much culture here, reaching its zenith in Aso-Ebi, where women use the same fabric for a particular social occasion, leads to more emphasis placed on sameness rather than difference. If Company x does red squares in its corporate id and is successful, then so should we. Brand-as-differentiation does not get a look in. This is partly because Nigeria is such a customer gold-mine: the market is so under-penetrated in most consumer sectors that any half-baked brand with some random name and visual identity can make a killing. Again, this will change. What we need in the Nigerian brands of the future is localisation: a use of indigenous iconography, colour palettes, language. What we don't need is the emergence of a bland brandscape that despoils most urban spaces in the West.


Styl Council 7:42 pm  


I would be even satisfied with just more respect for the Nigerain consumer and some applied intelligence to customer service and the power of the consumer naira.

I agree with everything in your piece. I'm also flabbergasted that in a country where there's so much social competitiveness, what in the HELL is GOING ON in the workplace, shopfloor, board-rooms,ideas-lofts etc....

In Nigeria, the concept of Marketing is translated into the elementary. Buyiinhg and Selling. No-one thinks about brand-loyalty or the level of returning clientelle. Forget brand intelligence and translation. Therfore, branding is concept based on "the printing of a brochure based on the favorite colour of the CEO and of a company named after his favorite child or his grandmother or mother" !

And there goes the old joke about how God was laughing when he created Nigeria...I bet his still laughing so much, his ribs are cracking!!!

Ugo Okafor 11:24 pm  

How many made in Nigeria or produced in Nigeria or grown in Nigeria are packaged properly. I recently bought some dry fish in the Dalston,London it was well packaged and srink rapped and the fish had been filleted before it was dried.

It came from Ghana the ones from Nigeria normally have sand in them and they are not graded at all. It seems we cannot even present our food products properly like bottled palm oil,yams etc, other west african countries seem to do it better than us.

The so called Nigerian attire a lot of the ladies wear in Nigeria is not even made by us how shameful.

St Antonym 9:51 pm  

"The so called Nigerian attire a lot of the ladies wear in Nigeria is not even made by us how shameful."

There are actually good historical reasons for that- the Dutch East India company started selling ankara to us after the Indonesians rejected the mass-produced version, and shortly afterwards, Manchester textile mills got into the lucrative business. As for lace and stuff, there is a Swiss cartel that more or less has the market cornered, from long years of catering to "awon mummys" tastes.

Nothing shameful in it. It's just a global economy.

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