9 December 2012

Uganda: Pius Katunzi - Did NSSF, KCCA Have to Shed Their Skins?

I wanted to shout: "Image is nothing. Don't be fooled. Go and do your core business. We need the city modernized!"

This would at least probably be my overt reaction to the new logo of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). KCCA wants to rip asunder the image created by the defunct Kampala City Council (KCC) which was absurdly known for all the bad things like corruption, dodgy land transactions, ghost bank accounts, among others. KCCA's steel-nerved Executive Director, Jennifer Musisi, says they don't want to be associated with KCC's soiled past.

Granted. She is right. But it is strange that she does not believe that during the time she has spent at the helm of the city, that image had already changed. The public perception of KCCA has changed; even the conduct of some of the workers has helped to promote this changed perception. Therefore, in my view, she didn't have to change the logo.

And even if she decided she had to change the logo as advised by the World Bank, she ought to have done a great job of it. The new logo, in my view, communicates nothing at best, and at worst, it is the least creative piece of art I have seen recently. The interplay of colours (red, green, yellow) and the superimposition of the White hall tower could not match the symbolism that was embedded in the former logo.

The tagline or their new motto "For a better city" is ambiguous and laden with infinite and impossible promises. The past logo had the history of Kampala in the images of the lion and the kob (Impala). The Impala symbolised where Kampala got its name. We need our history, whether good or bad.

On the contrary, the successes and strengths of Musisi's leadership would have been exhibited if she had maintained that old logo and fought hard for people to change their perception instead and come to like KCCA for what it is and not its cosmetic image. Already her demeanour and leadership style had proven that KCCA was not irredeemable.

If the issue is in names and bad past images, I don't know whether the government is thinking about changing the coat of arms for the office of the Prime Minister and ministry of Public Service. Their images have been battered by the unprecedented spate of theft of public and pension funds respectively.

One of the departments which have tried to rebrand with little success is the Uganda Police Force. Every new Inspector General of Police (IGP) that assumes office wants to change the image of police. They all honestly believed that changing uniforms would cleanse the force's bad image. The ebullient Lt Gen Katumba Wamala introduced sexy blue shirts for senior officers. When Lt Gen Kale Kayihura took the mantle, he too introduced a series of uniforms.

But this didn't help the police image either. Why? Because the brand mix is more than just a logo. It is the holistic packaging. Wearing a beautiful mask does not change the colour of your skin. What the police bosses were doing, was just skin buffing, the 'inside' of the officers remained totally unchanged.

The bug to change for the sake of it has also bitten the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). The dapper Managing Director, Richard Byarugaba, said the new look symbolised a renewed commitment to be more relevant and beneficial to its members. Really?

I don't see the correlation of the new logo with superb performance. The old NSSF logo was articulate and radiant. While the new logo, in my view, seems distant and wobbly. What we needed from NSSF is not a new logo but honest and quality service, and perhaps better interest rates on our savings.

NSSF should be known for their functional qualities than trying to spend money on attempts to loop-in stronger emotional bonds with its members. If KCCA and NSSF are looking for love from us, they should instead seek our trust for their services.

I would like to believe that the idea of rebranding was borrowed from the snake's conduct of skin shedding. The shedding is not without purpose. These reptiles shed their skins to rejuvenate their health, as well as remove the parasites that lurk in the old skins. At times when their bodies outgrow them, they shed their skins.

These two agencies didn't have to shed their skins. We only need them to stick to their core values.

The author is the Business Development Director, The Observer Media Ltd.

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