Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lessons from rebranding

Keith Subero logo50

Mark Fraser

The 82-year old Neal & Massy Group last week announced that effective immediately the entire conglomerate will be known as just “Massy”.

Not a simple name change—but a re-branded entity, with a new face, and crafted vision statement, which Massy CEO, Gervase Warner promised, with altruism rarely heard in the corporate world, would be a “force for good”.

As the point-man in the strategy to convert 60 companies into one seamless brand, Warner plans to translate the consortium’s aspiration for growth, beyond T&T, and Caricom, into Latin America. (His father, Eldon, one of the significant public servants of the 1960-70 era, who planned this country’s industrialisation platform must be proud)

Significantly, last week also, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his “profound shock” at being detained for 24 hours, then being charged in a corruption probe in which he allegedly received 50 million euros for campaign financing. Sarkozy becomes the second former president to be charged for influence trafficking in recent years.

I believe our Prime Minister should be “so advised” to note these two events. Unrelated? No, just different ends of the scale!

Warner recognised the challenge of an aging brand in need of modernisation, so he built two growth poles—a strategic investment portfolio, and an integrated consumer services link which will provide state-of-the-art, and sensitive access to all of Massy’s diversified entities—a strategic analysis which is not new, but certainly confronting the challenge.

Today, many business leaders still believe that everyday transactions are solely about numbers and price-performance ratio, and they are yet to realise what truly successful leaders have long discovered—that the business of business is about creating lasting brand relationships.

They are unaware that the end result of the brands they offer are all about the feelings created ultimately in the customer’s world. In other words, they have yet to discover the so-called “F” word, “Feeling”, in business.

Same in the public sector, our political leaders believe that their business is about some activity, which others have defined as “politics”. Nonetheless, every day they practise “politics” failing to search of its sublimity.

To them politics means only personal power, and the perpetuation of their own crass kleptocracy through which favours are dispensed indiscriminately to friends, devotees and their tribe.

After viewing a Vice News video last week, entitled Corruption, Cocaine and Murder in Trinidad which is circulating on the Internet, I felt I was left in that place which Aristotle wrote about that when the Polis (the state) has lost its essence, and the people are left worse off.

The video showed the underbelly of T&T underworld. “Everybody is involved in drugs, the Police, the Coast Guard, businessmen, politicians. Now police want extra from us” one participant said. Another described the trade as being “out of control now, and predicted “it is going to explode”.

It spoke of the “untouchables”, who purchase immunity from the state, by doing favours for politicians, and obtaining government contracts in return.

Then there were interviews with young men, their faces covered, who admitted to being part of a death squad.

The video told the world of our institutional degeneration, and that the law of the jungle has replaced the sovereign state of T&T. Usually I felt comfortable within my walls, but after the viewing I felt “worse off”, realising that there is dark Darwinian struggle out there.

So far, the PM’s response, is to call for the unleashing of the “dogs of war” and her child-like, and loose-lipped, National Security Minister has promised all out “war”, and with total disregard for constitutional guarantees has sent soldiers to patrol in east Port of Spain.

The PM should be “so advised” that the drug pandemic and the allegations of Government corruption are major challenges, not “duck and run” matters.

Her Government should be advised to borrow from the bold, strategic approach of Warner’s re-branding exercise, while eyeing the challenges Nicolas Sarkozy now faces.

Keith Subero, a former Express news editor, has since followed a career in communication and management