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8 Reasons Why NNPC’s Rebrand Was A Disaster

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Recently, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) rebranded to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.) at an official launch held at the state house in Abuja with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on ground to unveil the new logo of the largest oil company in Africa.

Events of that day took an interesting turn with the performance of ‘Fire on the Mountain’ by Nigerian international musical sensation, Asa. Trailing this and other issues, Ugo Onuaha, the former Managing Director/ Editor- in-Chief of Champion Newspapers Limited gives seven reasons why he believes the rebranding exercise is a disaster.

I am not convinced that I am a comms expert. I am certainly not a PR guru. I am a petty trader who was fortunate to get training in mass comm and who practiced for about three decades in newspapers and magazines. I will therefore leave the higher calling of academic analysis to the experts. I will only intervene as a stakeholder.

1. No perception audit was done

I am not persuaded that what was done the other day was a genuine desire to rebrand. If you want to rebrand you will necessarily have to determine the things that were wrong with the public’s perception of your brand. Indeed, you must answer the question of whether you are a brand. Are you a brand because you exist and operate in a given space? There’s no evidence that the NNPC carried out any study to determine how it is perceived by its various publics.

2. No restructuring happened

Arising from (1) above rebranding often goes with restructuring. There’s no evidence in the public domain that even a cosmetic restructuring took place. You have a corporation headed and peopled by staff who got there not necessarily by merit. Some of them cannot even get a menial job in any of the IoCs operating in Nigeria.

3. The cart came before the horse

NNPC is now supposed to be a private limited liability company. Yet everything about it is still government. What comes first- the cart or the horse? If you truly desire to rebrand, you need to do the hard work away from prying eyes. You need to do the hard work first not after the fact. What benefits are you anticipating from adopting a new image? How will the new brand perception rub off positively on your service or product?

4. Choice of artiste/song

The choice of the cast at the unveiling of the brand will be determined by the desired outcome. You follow up with priming the cast. Where is the evidence that such was done in the choice of Asa who is otherwise a wonderful artiste?

5. No thought given for the future

NNPC is all about hydrocarbon- extraction, export and the gut-wrenching importation of refined petroleum products by the same company that owns four refineries. How much thought has the corporation given to where it will be in the global energy mix 50 years down the line? Was this reflected in the rebranding project?

6. Not ‘Privatised’

 I am hesitant in mentioning this because it can easily be misconstrued. NNPC has been an ATM for any ruling party. Is there a possibility that because it has served the extant regime it can now be ‘privatised’? And what has been our experience with privatised public companies?

7. No intentions whatsoever for rebranding!

There was no rigour in what has been done in the so-called rebranding of NNPC. I submit there was no intention to do so.

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