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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Branding of Bangladeshi political and religious parties

I wonder if professional management and brand consultancies in Bangladesh ever wondered to extend their services to political and religious parties of Bangladesh on a commercial basis. Of all, I think these are the two unserved segments who are still yet to realize the full potential of branding their activities.

There are two reasons for this I believe. Firstly, both Bangladeshi politicians and religious leaders firmly believe that they have been assigned the mandates, for former it’s the ‘people’s mandate’ and the latter claiming that they have none other but ‘God’s mandate’ to do what they have been trying to do all along and that is why they don’t need any external services such as advice on their brand image, use of technology to promote and position their causes, how to interact directly with their constituents etc. So one group advocates having ‘people power’ and the other ‘God’s power’ behind them, making them special species of ‘all powerful know alls’.

Secondly, the professional management service providers in Bangladesh also never thought this segment to be of any worth with regards to providing tips and tricks on brand management, social media consultancy etc. However, any sane person in Bangladesh would agree how badly our politics and religion need to be branded or re-branded as a matter of fact.

A Digital Bangladesh will not be built if people at the helm don’t show by example through their personal conduct how that is done. We do seem to have Facebook fanpages of our two beloved political queens of soap opera found here for Apa and here for Madam. Good to see that atleast the pages exist, however I wonder how many people actually know about it and whether the persons in concern actually maintain these account themselves or not to interact with their supporters. Out of the digital world, there is an urgent need that new politicans attend crash courses in business management and branding in leading business schools to know some basic etiquettes of service and cause marketing. I also agree with your doubt that whether this would be enough to change the culture of destructive politics and other ills in the political playfield or not, but its worth giving a though a try.

Similarly, I think the way religious parties (both political and purely religious) preach their rules of play are, in its purest form, good examples of interruptive marketing, making a complete defaming of concepts such as permission marketing, cause marketing etc. When I called up my beloved and much respected Lokman Hujur back in Dhaka to discuss this concept, he asked me if I am ok or not. I was adamant and ready for this reaction, so I tried to convince him if he wants to start using Twitter to give religious tips on contemporary issues, or create a page in Facebook etc. He patiently advised me that the way he has been doing ‘things’ is the best way so far, as it has been prescribed and advised by his peers, mentors. So he asked me to keep my earthly branding knowledge to myself and to the service of the western economies. I didn’t want to argue further in a long distance telephone call, but I could very well figure out that Lokman Hujur represents a group that firmly believes that there is no ‘need’ to brand themselves otherwise, to follow innovative and contemporary methods to do the old things they have been doing (preaching, praying, promoting etc.). However, it goes without saying that many of the current concepts of marketing, branding were derived from the principles of religion only and now the time has perhaps arrived to give it back to the religion itself, as its badly bruised with negative perceptions, practices and principles.

On a careful note, we need to keep in mind that better branding to spread dirty politics and forceful religion in better ways is not something we aim to achieve. We don’t want to advise on how to use social media for example, to help spread hatred, intolerance and only supremacy of any one religion or any one political party. Rather the objective is to bring out the best in both these groups so that the best elements get more visible rather than the not so good ones, which is the other way round now.