Take a good look at this chap. Business executive. Professorial. Looks like he knows what he’s talking about.
Then this chap in traditional attire. Respect-inducing. Maybe someone’s husband or someone’s dad.
Now, check out this dude.
They are all one and the same person. Me.
While a big part of the transformation is organic and evolutionary, I have to acknowledge the important role played by the Nigerian Police, foreign Passport Control and my would-be mother-in-law in expediting the make-over.
The Nigerian Police
Apparently, there’s a way hard-working and responsible people look. They tend not to have dreadlocks and wear jeans on a Monday morning.
Policeman: Can we know you?
Me: My name is Jide.
Policeman (mild irritation): I mean can we know you?
Me: My name is Jide Alade. I am single. I am a citizen of the Federal Republic.
Policeman: Oga, come down.
I get down
Policeman (rudely): Your driver’s license.
I hand over the license.
Policeman: Your papers
I hand over the car papers.
Policeman: Your boot.
I open boot. He searches boot, ostensibly hoping to find something of an illegal nature.
Policeman: Who owns this car?
Me: It’s my official car.
He looks me over and then looks at the car.
Policeman: Where do you work?
Me: I work in advertising. I’m a Creative Director…
Policeman (with indignation bordering on the blasphemous): Director? You?
Despite my gallant attempts to educate members of Lagos Finest that a Creative Director is actually a serious office, they just couldn’t look beyond the hair and dressing. Passing motorists would look at the encounters with interest. The look on their faces were unmistakable:
“Hen-hen, dem don catch am! See am, Yahoo. 419. Officer, no let am go O!”
After repeated pull-overs and moral admonition by the police (the nerve!), I thought maybe it was time I did something about the look.
Dubai International Airport
Usually when I strip to my boxers, it’s not always in the presence of four eyes superintending the process. But here I was in a room at DXB stripped to my boxers before two Emirati officials. They were very courteous and repeatedly apologised for the ‘random check.’
They had pulled me from the Passport Control queue. I was en route an airport in South East Asia. As I got into the motorised cart with the two officials, a couple of Nigerian travellers on the queue got busy whispering.
‘Maybe he’s drug dealer.’
‘I suspect he’s going to Malaysia.’
‘This Ibo boys sef!?
‘That’s how they will be disgracing Nigeria all over the place.’
I couldn’t tell what they were gossiping about, but it couldn’t have been anything praiseworthy.
I was in good spirits though. 43% alcohol by volume. It appeared the Jack Daniel distillery was aboard that Boeing 777 flight. So I didn’t think too much of the obvious profiling and strip search.
After the search, the officers still apologising, I asked them why they had singled me out. They were honest enough to tell me:
I looked ‘hot.’ And I was listening to music through an earpiece, never mind transiting through a known drug route (Dubai en route Asia). From their experience, some drug traffickers tend to hide their nervousness by listening to music through an earpiece.
So, there you go folks. Don’t you be having a Beats by Dre headphone on, even if you’re bouncing to Tope Alabi.
My girlfriend had told her mother I was the one she was going to marry.
The mother cussed in Ilesha.
“Ta ni?! Dada?! Omo yi, mo de to e!”
(“Who, dreadlock Rasta?! And I trained you well, this child!)
I guess if a guy who looked like me came to my house and asked to marry my daughter, I’d also throw a fit. And then maybe a right hook.
Eventually, something had to give. I cut the hair and became clean-shaven. I’m happily married now.
These days, people listen to me more and pay attention to what I have to say.
While I believe that in my days as a Buffalo Soldier I’d had similar depth of knowledge in my field as I do now, many people couldn’t just see me as that authority figure.
They could doubt my product truth because I didn’t look the part.
Imagine putting a McLaren engine into the body of a Toyota Corolla. No one is going to believe that such power is inside the Corolla. That Corolla wouldn’t look it.
It is the same way with brands. Brand advertising, product packaging or activations are usually the first point of contact between the consumer and the brand. Make it count. Especially for new product launches.
You could have an excellent product, even a breakthrough one, but not properly and adequately convey it to your target. You’re letting the brand down. This is where the work you do around brand positioning and brand salience comes into play in influencing purchase decision.
Brand positioning is how your brand is perceived by the consumer in the context of competitive offering. Is your brand perceived as ‘affordable’ or ‘too expensive,’ ‘high quality’ or ‘manageable?’ This is different from intended position, which is how you want the consumer to perceive you. If both your brand position and intended position match, boom, job well done.
Brand salience is the degree to which your brand is thought about at moments or points of purchase. Positioning influences salience. So when you want to buy a toothpaste and stand in the aisle at Shoprite, the brand you eventually buy is the brand with the strongest salience, bar a price incentive.
Ultimately, you are responsible for how the consumer sees your brand. Learn from me. Don’t wait till some dude ask if you’ve got some weed to spare.