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Personality Branding and Success: Lessons from Bukom v Bastie Bout

branding ghana boxing bukom banku samir bastie


Personality Branding and Success: Lessons from Bukom v Bastie Bout

I am not a sports journalist, sports analyst, writer nor an expert in the game of boxing. However, I can confidently say that, I am a spectator who passionately love boxing and can understand the pain of a fallen hero after mercilessly receiving countless blows in the ring. Just as the survival of businesses depends strongly on good leadership and strategic management policies, boxing is also meant for the strong and men with brave heart.

Braimah Kamoko, a professional boxer in Ghana whom until the 22nd of October, 2017 was an undefeated champion with a record of 28-0-0 (21 K0). Kamoko, who is currently 37years old won the WBO Africa Light Heavyweight title in 2011, and the WBO Africa Cruiserweight title in 2012. In May 2017, he claimed that if given the opportunity, he can defeat World heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua. ‘I will beat Anthony Joshua hands down. Who is he? He said on a Ghanaian radio station.

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“Bukom Banku” as he is familiarly known among Ghanaians is arguably one of the most popular and favorite boxer in the country. He is known for creating satiric proverbs by translating African proverbs into the queen’s language. Of course, I have my favorite, thus; “A man can never be careful unless he wears a white cloth and a white car”.

His name “Bukom Banku” is the combination of a popular boxing town and food in the country. “Banku” is a popular staple food eaten by majority of Ghanaians. People prefer “Banku” to other foods because of the instant energy derived from its consumption. Hence the name “Bukom Banku” Literally means “strong man from Bukom”. The name may sound very funny and interesting, however, the same name easily rode him to fame and recognition as he won his first heavyweight bronze medal in the 1999 All-Africa Games organized in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Businesses must be much concerned about brand names. A business is as good as the brand it builds in the minds of people. Your business name represents your intentions and the first thing customers consider before patronizing your product. Adidas, Nike, Sony, AppleCoca ColaMercedesShellToyota, Samsung, Lenovo, Chrysler, Nestle, MTN, WallMart and Nokia among others are favorite and well-known brand names across the world. This are businesses that have grown throughout the years and created billions of wealth due to the positive perception of their brands. People want to always associate themselves with good brands hence the first step for every successful business is to get the brand name right.

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The boxer had his name on point; his name was a reflection of who he is and what he wants to become. A name that builds strong impression in the minds of his supporters and a name that people want to associate with “Banku”. Hearing his name for the first time makes you wonder who and what he is…and the edge to research about him or watching him fight increases by every seconds. This brand achievement is what every business brand name must possess.

The boxer who has crowned himself over the past years as the African Mayweather is also an entertainer who sings, raps and seen featured in some local movies in the country. He has been a very good entertainer for most Ghanaians and his hilarious way of speaking bad English has made him more popular and won the heart of most Ghanaians including me. After all, Ghana is a very peaceful and loving country. I cannot call this new approach to fame as a career diversification, however, I can confidently say that his brand name and fame in boxing won him some few contracts in the entertainment industry.

A good business brand name may persuade other businesses to associate with your brand mostly through consultation, outsourcing or even investments. Your competitor may even give up for you because of the language your brand name speaks. Just as the boxer diversified his talent, businesses with good brands can as well diversify into other production line. Lenovo after climbing to become Asian top producer of computers and laptops is currently among the top 5 Mobile Phone producers in the world and top 3 in Asia. Brand will always follow your business.

In an interview with one of the radio stations in the country, the boxer boasted of having seven different cars to show how successful he was. However, questions relating to his recent abuse of women in his community was unanswered by him. He however claimed he only disciplined his nephew who was going wayward and disrespectful to elders. The boxer featured in both the print, audio and visual media for the wrong reasons. He was arrested by the police with different charges of assault and indiscipline in the country. In one viral video, he was seen fumbling with the breast of teenage girls; an unacceptable practice in Ghana. These unacceptable practice of the boxer invited a lot of insults and criticism from the general public with some people calling for his immediate jail sentence. He gradually started to lose some of his passionate fans and followers who believed much in him. The boxer excelled with his brand image but his personality shot him down from the sky.

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Businesses may succeed with brand names but may fall if their personality is not well managed. The combination and integration of brand and personality is very pivotal to managing the success of business. Personality in this context refers to the business values, competences, mission, vision and core objectives of your existence. Thus, the personal characteristic of your business must much with your brand name. Creating value for customers through delivery of the best product and services that satisfies their needs is very paramount to your brand.  Your brand must stand for who you are, what you do and what people see you to be today, tomorrow and the future. Your personality must reflect with the brand you wish to build in the minds of people.

Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, Sony etc. are among the best brands in the global electronic industry. Mercedes, Toyota, Chrysler, Hyundai among other automotive giants have over the years created a very big impression with their brand names. Never compromise on quality and the quest to satisfy the needs of your customers at all times. Customers have higher expectations from good brands hence once they lose interest in your product you will lose your brand as well. The boxer “Kamoko” failed to understand the importance of personality branding in his career hence his failure to maintain the overwhelming support from his followers.

Former world champion and one of the most respected boxers in Ghana, Professor Azumah Nelson has this key elements of personality branding which has earned him enough respect among the boxing fraternity and the world at large.

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Just as the people of Ghana believe and have faith in God through various means of worship, so do they have believe in their political affiliations and philosophies. Ghana is a democratic country hence every citizen has a freedom of expression and speech. Politics in Ghana is more tribal and ethnocentric than the application of ideologies. Most people support political parties because of family history, ethnic biography of the party and sometimes ethnic background of the party’s leadership. However, there are some small portion of the Ghanaian population who are very discerning and support parties based on ideologies.

One mistake a business must never commit, perhaps in Ghana is affiliating business brand with political parties. Politics creates divisions hence brand – political affiliation may create division among your customers and definitely not the way forward for business success. As well, your brand personality must be very unique in a way that does not conflict with any political colors or symbols.

Ghana is a multi-party state with over 20 (twenty) different political parties with different ideologies. However, there are two popular parties who have won the heart of most Ghanaians over the past 25years. Prior to 2016 elections, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) had governed the country for 16years whiles the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had their chance to govern for just 8years. The 2016 elections was a fierce one which was keenly contested by the leadership of the two major parties. Majority of Ghanaians were angry for a change in government whiles others are just fine with the numerous infrastructure projects completed by the current government, NDC. The country was in the state of a political brouhaha throughout the election period.

In the middle of this aggressive political year found the undefeated champion declaring his support and active involvement in political activities for the ruling government. He was mostly seen on social media wearing the NDC’s party paraphernalia and sometimes recorded videos declaring his support for the party. More interestingly, he recorded a song for the ruling party to show how much he loved and has endorsed them. This decision by the boxer did not go down well with some of his supporters: probably his supporters in the opposing party. The reaction by some of his followers on social media was very abusive and derogatory. Many thought he was just a gold digger whose carrier has ended hence looking for opportunities to loot some cash. Others as well agrees with him since he has a freedom of association.

However this decision may seem, it was never the best move by the boxer to affiliate his personality brand to any political party. His decision created divisions among his supporters and as well created a different image in the minds of some of his supporters. Politics is a no go area for businesses: no matter how positive the political environment may seem, businesses must never affiliate their brand personality with any political party. The outcome may be great for a short period but may not excel into success in the future.

On Saturday, 22nd October, 2017, the fighter tasted his first defeat ever in his entire boxing career. The fight which took place in the Bukom Boxing Arena, a boxing complex built by the former government is the first of its kind in the country. Before his defeat, “Banku” has already faced and defeated another hard talker “Ayittey Powers”, his old time childhood friend and boxing rival.

The boxing complex is perfectly located in the center of “Bukom” a small town in Accra which widely known to be the home of nurturing great boxers including “Banku” himself. The boxer though he is from the north grew up and begun his boxing career in “Bukom” hence this second bout is a perfect opportunity to inspire his supporters and aspiring young boxers.

Bastie Samir “The beast” is a young Ghanaian boxer based in the United States of America (USA). The 29year old boxer can only boast of a professional career record of 15 fights, with 14 knockouts and one draw. Relatively, “Banku” is more experienced than Samir when it comes to fight records and age. Unlike “Banku”, Bastie do not have any form of media exposure, big brand name nor possess any big fan base. Most Ghanaians were not familiar with his name and personality hence his popularity in the country was quite limited. However, some few days to the fight, something strange happened on social media, particularly Facebook.

Reactions from majority of Facebook users in the country did not seem to favor their favorite boxer. Derogatory statements and personal insults were thrown at the boxer through this medium. Many were those who wished for his defeat on the night of boxing. Interestingly, most of the statements made on the social media platforms were politically motivated. His opponent, comparatively did not receive any serious attention on social media yet people prefer him winning the fight to their favorite champion.

It is worth to note that, one personality mistake can send a wrong signal and change the positive perception customers have formed about your brand. In a competitive business environment, survival is key hence keeping loyal customers through effective management of brand personality is an important strategy. Politics has great influence on brand personality and it is very easier for customers to switch brands once they feel uncomfortable with your brand-political affiliation. It does not really matter how big or small your competitors’ maybe, once customers are politically motivated and lose interest in your brand, your key competitor will experience a positive shift on the demand curve. The fighter failed to understand the dynamics of politics and its influence on his professional career. I do not know if he regrets his decision, but I ca confidently say that he has lost a personality brand that can take years to recover

The bout between “Banku” and Bastie on the night of 22nd October, 2015 was very thrilling and entertaining as fans cheered the names of their preferred boxer throughout the fight. Interestingly, perhaps from my personal observation, I heard more people cheering and calling the name of Bastie than “Bukom”. All sought of name callings and insults were thrown to him by some boxing spectators in the arena during the fight. Anytime he received heavy punches on his face, the crowd cheered so loud with smiles and laughter. The support for Bastie, who I may tag as the underdog in the fight was much massive than the self-acclaimed “African Mayweather”.

After trading heavy punches for 6 good rounds, the fight ended on the 7th round by a knockout from Bastie. “Banku” promised to end the fight by a knockout in the 6th round, however, was not strong enough to excel through the round seven as he received heavy punches on his face from all angles. One heavy punch from Bastie on the face of the undefeated champion landed him on the ground and perhaps made him felt dizzy as he staggered forward like a drunk returning home from a pub.  The referee forcibly has to end the fight to save the boxer from further humiliation. The undefeated record of our favorite boxer ended on that faithful night whiles Bastie improved his records to (16-0-1, 15KO).

The failure to maintain the success of your business may be an opportunity for your opponents to improve their business success. Losing your brand personality is like losing your pride in your business area. Customers are very paramount and play a pivotal role for the success of every business hence anything that will jeopardize your relationship with them must not be tolerated.

Personally, I think one of the factors that caused the defeat of “Banku” was the massive support garnered behind Bastie throughout the fight. The motivation from “Banku’s” fans was not the usual against the trolling coming from all corners of the boxing complex.  He was not inspired and motivated enough to carry on, a situation he created by himself due to bad personality branding.

NB: Check social media (Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram) and experience the degree of trolling by some section of Ghanaians.

Written by:

Nana Kwame Nkrumah

Business and Financial consultant


[email protected]

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