January 24, 2017      16:47

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The Nigerian Political Party Creation & Branding Challenge


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Tolu Ogunlesi

1998

One. ‘A’ and ‘N’ names appear to be the most popular first names for political parties in Nigeria; ‘A’ because it pays to have your name show up near the top of the ballot paper (party names are arranged in alphabetical order); ‘N’ because, ‘Nigeria(n)’, and ‘National’. For last name, P is the commonest, expectedly. Trailing well behind are C (Congress) and A (Alliance).

Two. The 3-letter Acronym Rules – all the political parties that have ever ruled Nigeria – NPC, UPN, SDP (almost!), PDP and now APC – have had 3 letters. The 4-letter parties – ANPP, APGA, UPGA, GNPP – have at best been ‘accessories’ to the main ruling parties of their eras.

With these foundational rules in mind, we are now going to create the perfect political party name.

‘A’ – because we want to be near the top. In fact, we want to be right at the top of the ballot paper. So, AAA.

‘P’ – because all the parties that have ever ruled Nigeria have had a P in them. To double our chances of success, we will add another P. But because that takes us to 5 letters – AAAPP, and because of what we know about the chances of non-3-letter parties – we will remove one A and one P.

So we’re left with AAP. Now let’s figure out what that could be:

The P is ‘Party’. Unless we want to consider ‘Platform’.

Now for the A’s. Let’s compile a short list of A words: ‘All’, ‘Alliance’ and ‘Action’ are the three words that come to mind most readily. But we need to expand our horizons. So here we go: Acceptance, Ability, Adulation, Anno – nothing says we should stick to English! – Anniversary, Adaptation. Hmmm, we’re treading on thin ice here – who wants to be identified with an Adulation Alliance Platform? Or an Anniversary Congress Party?Nah. So let’s get serious. We’re back to ‘All’, ‘Alliance’ and ‘Action’.

Brainwave: All Action Platform! (AAP).Makes it very clear that this is the Party of Action. Where others might talk and promise, AAP will not just ‘Action’; it will ‘All-Action’. Like the best detergents, it will dissolve ALL the Cankerworms that have eaten deep into their Innermost Fabric of the Augean Stables of our Nascent Democracy.

Next, the Logo:

Nah, no corn, broom, cock, or fist.Too old-school. And no, the Mobile Phone is too elitist! Here’s what we need. Brainwave Alert 2.0! The WhatsApp logo. Yes, correct. Perfectly recognisable by the elite. And by most of the masses, who own mobile phones anyway. To avoid complicated intellectual property battles with Facebook we would definitely remove the telephone symbol – in any case, it is too elitist; as one Federal Minister once told us, telephone is not for the poor! – and replace it with something that the bottom millions can relate to.

Just as I typed that the perfect answer came to mind – the Tomato! The Tomato – All Things to All Palates.  Some will instantly see in it that enduring symbol of the Nigerian kitchen: the Pot of Soup. Some will see Jollof Rice (the most probable cause of a third World War – which will start between Nigeria and Ghana, spill into Gambia, and from there engulf Europe and North America). Some will see Industrialisation (think Dangote and Erisco). The oyibos among us will think of their beloved Tomato Juice (which, for some reason, to the unexposed black stomach, is one of the most disgusting things ever invented!). The more intellectually-minded among us are not unlikely to recall that most profound proverb (attributed to Brian O’Driscoll): “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.”

Point is: The Tomato has something for everyone! It is a fruit and yet it does not belong to a fruit salad. It belongs to EVERY PLATE; it belongs to NO (FruitSalad) PLATE!

So, to quickly recap, we have the WhatsApp logo, emptied of its telephone handset – replaced by a Juicy Red Tomato.

Now to the final branding decision to be made, a Slogan that works!

It must be something simple, catchy, singable, memorable, and that makes a point! And it must not impose too hard a burden on you as a party. The problem with settling for ‘Power to the People’ is that you will constantly be judged by the extent to which you are making or not making the power available to the people. If you say ‘Change’ you’re liable to always get attacked for being too slow or too fast with the change. This means that the ideal slogan must be sufficiently ambiguous, making meaning while allowing your party to wriggle out of any unnecessary commitments. Finally, it must, as much as is possible in 2017, be troll-resistant.

Where does that leave us? Another brainwave answer: 'Common!' Yes, you heard right. The slogan for the ‘All Action Platform’, will be ‘Common!’ It is both a Challenge cum Call to Action, make that 'Call to ALL-Action!' – COMMON, People! Let’s make Nigeria great again! Let’s vote for AAP! Let’s do this or that! – AND an acknowledgement – by our party, of the COMMON people of Nigeria; the ones that come out to vote, not the ones who hang their butts on Twitter assuming that the party that wins is the one that tweets #NigeriaDecides the most.

Now let me hear you say: “AAP! Common!” “AAP! Common!” “AAAAPPPP!Common ooooooo!” "We belong to EVERY PLATE; We belong to NO (FruitSalad) PLATE!!!!!"


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