The characteristics of a good brand name are not only considered by the unique and distinctive symbolism attached to such brand names, but also the top of the mind recall they possess and how well the target audiences can connect and easily remember such brand characterizations.
A general rule in brand development is the ability to ensure that in naming your brand, painstaking attention is deployed to this process in order to create a brand that is not directly or indirectly associated with negativity or in the popular Nigerian context, bad market. In this regard, many brand scholars agree with professional author Al Ries that a brand, at the end of the day, is nothing but a name.
More so, the image and perception of a brand is ultimately a deciding factor that determines the product sales or how well the brand is received in the market place. Elon Musk, a South African-born Canadian-American business magnate, investor, engineer, inventor and CEO of SpaceX, believes that “Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.” He is right. Brand imaging and imagery are thus very important, as they become an accumulation of beliefs and views that define a particular brand. The character and value of the brand is portrayed by its image, as it is the main component in the eventual scheme of things.
Much like the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, music is now a million-dollar industry in Nigeria. The music industry’s revenue from music sales was $56 million in 2015 and is forecast to grow to $88 million in 2019 as reported by an auditing firm, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), in 2015.
Lagos, the commercial heart of Nigeria’s economy, provides an enabling environment for the conceptualization and development of many popular music genres which have become identity markers for the country. Juju, Afrobeat, Fuji, Gospel, Reggae and Hip-hop among others, have produced musical icons recognized globally like Osita Osadebe, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Femi Kuti, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, Majek Fashek etc. Also, the younger generation that has mostly embraced, the Hip-hop genre like MI Abaga, 2Face, D’banj, Wizkid, Dare Art Alade, Olamide Baddo and Wande Coal have built globally recognized and acceptable brands.
Olamide Adedeji, known by his stage name Olamide but popularly called Olamide Baddo is one of the country’s top shots in the music industry today. Born and raised in Lagos, the YBNL boss is known not so much for having a flashy and colorful lifestyle, but his association to humble beginnings – the streets.
Olamide was able to successfully create the ‘Baddo’ brand which later became an attachment to his stage name Olamide (Olamide Baddo). Many of his fans especially on the streets adopted the musical brand name Baddo as a slang or nickname to hype friends with personalities and swagger to rep. Some other Nigerian musicians also reformed the Baddo brand as it reflects in the song ‘Bahd Baddo Baddest’ with Falz the Bahd Guy, Olamide Baddo and Davido as Baddest on the track. We all loved it, the streets too.
But sadly, the streets are no longer smiling. People living in Ikorodu, Lagos state and even beyond have been living under a cloud of fear, since the emergence of a dreaded killer gang known as “Badoo” that have wreaked murderous havoc around Ikorodu and environs. Their barbaric activities which have been linked to spiritual, ritual and occult practices gave rise to questions that have continued to bother many Nigerians. Who are these killers, who are their backers, what do they want, how do they operate, what or who inspires them?
According to the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICR), a criminal, described by residents as a “serial ritual killer”, was apprehended at Ibeshe in Ikorodu on June 12, 2016. His name was given simply as “Badoo”. Ikorodu residents revealed that after every attack, he would write “I am Badoo” and paste on the door of his victims. He continued in a seemingly invincible manner until he was caught after he molested and killed a 27-year-old woman and her nine-month-old child. Following the apprehension, a group of other people rose up in his stead and continued the killings and they came to be known as Badoo. Although spelt differently, the Badoo killers and the Olamide Baddo brand names bear similarity in pronunciation. What this means is that the good brand name and street cred created by Olamide now stands the risk of association with a cult of violent ritual killers. At the mention of “Badoo” or “Baddo” anywhere in Lagos or even beyond today, it is not likely that Olamide or the Badoo dating social network would be the first thing that comes to mind. The nefarious activities of the Badoo gang have left a painful scar in the hearts of many – a scar that may even take years to erode.
Ours is a very superstitious and somewhat hypocritical society. Ours is a society where music artistes, no matter how successful they are, are still considered by many as not so responsible people who young people should grow up, aspiring to emulate. Music artistes and by extension, their colleagues in the entertainment industry are seen as part of society’s morality crisis – they have been accused many times of destroying our moral values while promoting materialism and immorality through their art. Only God knows the quiet whispers and imaginations on the minds of many Lagosians since the Badoo phenomenon became a harsh violent reality that has even led to cases of bloodletting and jungle justice, sometimes with innocent lives lost. The ritual mystery behind its origin and brand similarity with the Olamide Baddo brand may be connecting dots in the minds of many even when no shred of evidence exists linking this group to the music, personality or art of Olamide. It is the world we are in. It is the dynamics of image perception. It is the name of the game where perception is stronger than reality. It is what French novelist Gustave Flaubert was referring to when he said “There is no truth. There is only perception” or as Stephen Colbert puts it; “Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It’s certainty.”
Olamide, his management and whoever his brand managers are, certainly have cause to be concerned. It’s time for them to put on their thinking caps and begin to creatively redefine the Olamide brand in a way that pushes it far from the Badoo cult killers. Olamide may need to spend the next couple of months lying low, being a ‘good boy’ in his lyrics, dressing and acting like one. If creativity permits, he can even address the issue in a song and might just be lucky enough to get away with it. But whatever his decision is, burying his head like an Ostrich and pretending that nothing has gone wrong is certainly not a wise decision. Brands rise and fall like empires but the brands who stand the test of time are the ones who are able to react strategically and adapt swiftly within shifting dynamics and evolving realities.
‘Yemi Adebowale, a public affairs commentator writes from Abuja. He tweets via @AdeyemiBowale.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.