The test of any successful brand is its ability to evolve and remain very relevant over several decades. Over the past few decades, very few people have been able to successfully manage their personal brands in a distinct and yet relevant fashion.
Robert Mugabe has demonstrated an incredible staying power over the decades; many thought he would fizzle out when he took on the Pan- Africa, anti-Western posture but over several decades, he has still held on to his own and still delivers his bombastic statements and jabs.
You may not agree with his opinions, but his personal branding techniques serve as a tried-and- rule model for anyone seeking success.
Here are five lessons we can take home from Robert Mugabe;
- Be Consistent
- Be Confident
- Take a Stand
- Create demand through intrigue
- Be recognizable
Say what you will say about Robert Mugabe- he has been described as a dictator, ridiculous, bombastic by his fellow western leaders and the media, – but he has been called all of these consistently. From sweeping and provocative statements against the West and some African leaders, staunch opposition to Western interference in Africa – we always get what we expect from Mugabe.
Mugabe is a master of this important concept of branding- Consistency. Strong brands deliver on their promise with everything they do and sure Mugabe has delivered over the years. One of the key components of personal branding is consistency.
When Mugabe says to the world, “we don’t mind sanctions banning us from Europe. We are not Europeans,” he says it with such confidence and conviction that his followers have no option than to follow in his steps. Confidence is one of the most attractive brand attributes there is. People gravitate to those who are self-assured and unwavering in their optimistic promises and utterances. Confidence in a brand can be derailed if it is not rooted in reality. To build your brand- and your following- demonstrate conviction and exude confidence, backed by the true ability to follow through on your promises.
Take a Stand
Many professionals often try hard not to be controversial and want everyone to like them, yet strong brands in the world often repel as many people as they attract. They express a point of view and stick to it. Few personalities in the world have such controversial views as Robert Mugabe yet, he has huge loyal followers around the world. Robert Mugabe over the years is noted for his ability to go against the norm and take a very polarizing stance. For example, when all African leaders were being diplomatic about the gay marriage controversy after the US Supreme Court ruling, Mugabe was not. He came out publicly and rebuked Obama for his position. Personal branding is not about pleasing all the people all the time. It’s about taking a stand- knowing that not everyone is going to agree with you. To build a successful personal brand, define who you are and what you stand for and do not relent in projecting and defending your convictions.
Create demand through intrigue
The reason many shall turn their TVs and radio sets on to listen to Mugabe is simply because they want to hear what new he is going to say. During a recent speech he delivered at the National Assembly in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe compared himself to Jesus Christ when he said, “I have died many times. I have actually beaten Jesus Christ because he only died once.” The audacity is intriguing and it’s what makes his followers around the world want to tune-in when he is speaking. When building your brand, you want to spark a high level of interest (being audacious is just one way to accomplish that).
Strong personal brands have a trademark. For some it is a catchphrase, for others it is their way of dressing. For Robert Mugabe, his greatest trade mark is called “Defiance.” He has created a persona about his image which says, “The whole world is against me but they can’t beat me.” To successfully build a personal brand, be recognizable, create a trademark people could identify with even if you are not around. These are few personal branding lessons we can learn from Africa’s longest serving president.
Writer: G. K. Sarpong