In the past 20 or so years, very few and I am being very charitable here that very few skilled entertainers have been able to build a brand name for themselves with a strategic orientation, changing the primary focus from managing short-terms financials, to the development and maintenance of assets and skills. When I say a brand name, I am speaking from a professional brand management view point, that very few “brand names” on the scene either currently or past, have been able to build an equity around its name or imagery that adds to the value provided by their skills (music, movie or theater) to their customers.
To continue, I would like to quote Stephen King (WPP Group-London) when he said.” A product is something made in the factory, a brand is something bought by a customer. A product can be copied by a competitor, a brand is unique. A product can be quickly outdated, a successful brand is timeless”.
From the look of things and based on several years of participating and observing the Ghanaian entertainment industry, I can state categorically that there is not a brand name in the entertainment industry that can be validated to have obtained the requisite brand equity that is praise worthy as compared to other parts of our world. This in my view is the explicit reason why the debate or rather intellectual discourse between entertainers or entertainment professionals and brand management experts must start now.
No doubt notable brand names in the entertainment industry can be mentioned – Kojo Antwi, Papa Yanson, Reggie Rockstone, Sarkodie, Daddy Lumba, Majid Michel, Van Vicker, etc. But my question is this, how much equity can be leveraged from their names. Let me bring it better to life by defining brand equity from David A Aaker’s point of view – Brand equity is a set of brand assets (skills) and liabilities linked to a brand. Its name and symbol or simply put “the commercial value of all associations and expectations, positive or negative that people have of the organization (Record label) and its product (Artist)”. My focus in this regards is the management of the brand’s commercial value from brand marketing environment.
It is very evident that in the Ghanaian Music entertainment business, very few professional are involved in the trade. Let me qualify what I mean by this, while the Artists, Producers, Engineers, and some Managers are professional in their own rights, my concern is about the main business aspect of the entertainment business. A look into most music camps, one would easily see that the key players (team) around some of our artists are family and friends or a one man management system with very little or no prerequisite entertainment or music business management know how or experience. This in my honest view is the major limitation to the proper management of the commercial value or “Brand Equity” of the artist.
ARTISTE MANAGEMENT TEAM
In the music business as an example, the typical artiste’s team of any agreeable standard that would help maximize an artist’s career and net worth should include but not limited to:
1. Personal Manager
2. Attorney (lawyer)
3. Business Manager
In addition, my call is for brand management professionals in the team. In today’s the entertainment or FMCG markets, brands are the core to each enterprise. And until Artists or generally speaking entertainers begin to see themselves as a “Brand” or as a business (even though your skills are creative, you’re capable of generating multimillion cedis yearly), and thus must think of yourself as a business needing professional help and support from other professionals of different disciplines. If not your growth and brand equity would continue to see short- term financials and never cross the thresh-hold.
The value of brand management professionals in this business cannot be over emphasized in this regards, and I must admonish brand management professionals to also begin to see this as a legitimate business operations to be involved in.
TYPICAL VISION OF ARTISTES IN GHANA
Another example to lay my point bare is this, when one listens to artists’ management teams especially in the music business, their vision or better still long term goals are (and this is across the spectrum)
1. Release a hit single
2. Get shows – locally or international
3. Record or have collaboration with an international act.
End of story. If this was enough to build a successful lasting brand, by now Ghana would have a P. Diddy, a Jay Z or better yet a Tuface or a PSquare.
In the case of PSquare for example, in the early stages of their career growth (their 2nd or 3rd album I believe) they either directly or indirectly engaged the services of Prima Garnet (Ogilvy Nigeria – an advertising agency) to help out. No wonder their brand equity is second to none in the continent (within their music genre).
Just as companies such as Coco Cola, Accra Breweries Limited, GGBL, PZ Ghana, employ the services of professional brand management staffs to ensure their product translates into winning brands, so must the entertainer.
The relationship between these companies and the entertainment industry in the past 10 years can be said to be remarkable. We have seen our music icons represent some global brands locally, some to successful campaigns, and others, just for the fancy of it. If there are no more reasons for my call, this alone must make one wonder (the artist and team) – “how can I better my brand imagery or perception to guarantee me a cut through the clutter to enhance my Brand Equity?”
A few artists such as Sarkordie (Sark Collections), Reggie Rockstone (Rockstone Condom) and many others that did not see the living day light, have tried extending their brand names, however fantastic and noble such initiatives were, I am sure the right individuals (brand management professionals) were neither part of the team or in the driving seat of changing the orientation of the noble products into successful brands. As stated in the earlier part of this piece “a product can be copied by a competitor, a brand is unique. A product can be quickly outdated, a successful brand is timeless”.
Let me end my submission by borrowing from the writing of Davis A. Aaker again, about the role of assets and skills. “An asset is something a firm possesses (in this case the artist company or the business) such as brand name or retail location, which is superior to that of competition. A skill is something a firm (again the artist which is the business) does better than its competitors do, such as performances or album releases. Assets and skills provide the basis for a competitive advantage that is sustainable”. The challenges are to identify key assets and skills on which the firm (artiste) should base its competitive advantage, to build upon and maintain them, and to use them effectively. Which in my view can ONLY BE DONE WITH THE HELP OF A MARKETING OR BRAND MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONAL!!!
G. Kobina Edah
+233 2043 85756 /0234 180096