Nigeria Police Force: A Brand in Need of Rebranding (I)

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By Emmanuel Obeta

Why the focus on the Nigerian Police as a case study for our brand exercise some people might justifiably want to know?

One is that the police is a very pervasive brand, one that is always on your face; one that you cannot avoid but must be in regular contact with as a citizen, whether as a criminal or as an upright citizen.

The police is so integral to our everyday lives that whether you believe it or not they form a critical part of our day’s planning in the route we take to and fro our business or the time we leave or stay back pending the “situation of the road” depending on the type of business you are in. For instance some people usually embark on their journeys on Sundays when according to them the road will be free and devoid of so many roadblocks. This is so because a delay at the numerous check points could be adversarial to the nature of their business or facilitate it.

Nigerian traffic owing to the nature of our roads are basically manned by police men and women due to the absence of street lights and even when there are street lights compliance is basically dependent on whether there is a police man around the traffic light who can jump out or sneak out with their various physical implements to stop or arrest you for beating the traffic light.

As an individual your safety as well as that of your property is largely influenced by the Police. For instance any accident unless settled amicably by the different parties will definitely be settled or referred to the police even after the endless street brawls and wahala that must have ensued before such interventions.

So as an institution the Police is a very critical aspect of our everyday living; an institutional brand that we cannot but interface with on a daily basis.

How and why is the Police a brand?

Before we step into that lets ask a couple of questions. Why is it that the British police spend the huge resources it does to maintain, advertise, publicize and even turn the Regiment police at the Buckingham palace into such a circus as well as a huge tourist attraction that it has become? Why is it that the daily routine change of guards at the Buckingham palace is turned into a huge carnival with the public allowed to watch? Why is it that ordinary tourists are allowed to approach up close to the Buckingham police to even take pictures shots with them? Why is it that LAPD is a huge money-spinning movie on Television every year with different episodes of the crime watch, a constant for the TV viewers?

Brands are a living memory and reside in the mind and in the subconscious of the people who interact or interface with it. So either by physically interacting with the British Police at the Buckingham Palace or by watching or hearing about their parades and dressing you would have developed a liking or admiration for the Police Force as well as a positive disposition towards them such that on interaction with them your positive disposition will lend itself to a pleasant or not negative interaction.

By watching LAPD etc you would have developed a mental picture of the pervasiveness of the Police Force such that you would be reluctant or unwilling to engage yourself in any criminal situation. Even when you interact with the police your mind would have been programmed on how to relate to them or what are the allowable behaviors while interacting with the Police. A healthy dose of fear or respect for the Police as well as trust on their efficiency in handling crimes and other such situations would have been deposited in your mind. Any wonder therefore why there is a huge difference between our public perception and reaction to the Police in Nigeria and that, which is obtainable abroad? Mental programming or branding definitely!!!

In Nigeria for instance despite the mouthing of the slogan – The Police is Your Friend – there is always an apprehension between any interaction between the public and the police – It is hardly ever friendly mainly because of the impression already existing in the mind of the Public about the Police. For instance abroad it is hardly ever conceivable for a motorist to fail to stop when flagged down by the Police as the individual is as sure as daylight to end up in trouble and pursued to a rat hole and flushed out but in Nigeria people at random speed off when stopped by the police either because they know they won’t be pursued because the road block in itself must have been an illegal one for extortion of money or because they are aware of the lack of resources by the Police to pursue after them.

The actual level of success or failure in containing crime is actually resident in the minds of the people. If the people believe that crime does not pay and are aware that no matter how long you run that the long hands of the law will catch up with you then crime will be an unattractive venture, but if the people believe that might is power and that no matter the crime committed that you can always pay your way out of it then crime will be a much more preponderant occurrence. If people are also made to be a partner in crime prevention such that people are encouraged to report a crime so long as their safety will be guaranteed then crime prevention and bursting will be an easy thing as most witnesses of crime will very gladly come forward to report or witness to such crimes. However if there is a backlash from such reporting of crime such that the criminals are not only set free but come back to threaten those who reported them then fighting crime will be a tall order as every man will mind his own business. At the end of the day the police is a collective asset that is owned by the people and the mindset, perception or views of this institution among the public will determine to a large extent how proficient or effective it will be.

  • Emmanuel Obeta is a Brands & Marketing Consultant with Directorate Level experience across FMCG, Banking and Public Service (eobeta@gmail.com ; +2348139322773)