After officially commencing commercial broadcasting in Ghana in November 2004, Citi FM has from small beginnings grown to become one of the most loved radio brands in Ghana.
In June 2018, the brand successfully made an entry into the television broadcast market with the successful launch of Citi TV and in a relatively short period of 2 years, Citi TV has made significant breakthroughs with its relevant news and current affairs programming, as well as lifestyle, arts and culture and youth-focused content.
In this write-up, I proffer four key factors that in my view have catapulted the Citi brand into becoming such a formidable brand in the broadcast media industry in Ghana.
Richard Branson once said, “The brands that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that have a purpose beyond profit.”
A purpose-driven brand is a brand that is motivated by its core mission; a mission that goes beyond profit.
It is the reason why the brand exists; it is the reason behind everything it does; it is about solving a problem or meeting a need in society.
To illustrate why it is important to have a strong brand purpose, let me share with you a real-life story of Samuel Langley and the Wright brothers.
In the early 1900s, Langley had gained prominence for his work in astronomy but now desired to build an airplane. His motive was to enjoy the fame of being credited as the inventor of the airplane just as Alexander Graham Bell had received recognition as the inventor of the telephone.
Langley was well-educated, had all the financing, credentials and official support. He made two attempts in 1903, both ending in terrible failures that led to much ridicule.
The Wright Brothers on the other hand never went to college. They had little money, didn’t have the right connections and no one paid them much attention.
But they had a strong purpose: not one of just building an airplane to achieve fame but to change the world throughout flight.
Nine days after Langley’s second failed attempt, the Wright Brothers made the first successful controlled manned flight ever.
The key difference between the Wright Brothers and Samuel Langley was the reasoning behind their endeavours. They were not preoccupied with achieving fame, money or prestige.
Their strong purpose of changing the world through flight kept them going despite any failures they may have encountered, whereas Langley was ready to fold up after just two failed attempts.
1. A PURPOSE-DRIVEN BRAND
Undoubtedly, the Citi brand is an example of a media brand that has demonstrated a clear purpose; a purpose that it has strategically and consistently woven into every facet of its business whether radio or TV.
Whilst some media brands on their brand development journey may have neglected or lost their core purpose perhaps as a result of complacency, lethargy or an overconcentration on making profits, the Citi brand in my view has stayed true to its key purpose i.e. to reflect the essence of the communities the brand serves while creating authentic content that celebrates Ghana.
This is evident in its compelling, relevant and timely development-oriented programming aimed at shedding light on and finding solutions to social and community problems.
For example, the #WarAgainstIndiscipline -Be the change campaign [#WAI] which sought to avert the increasing loss of lives through road carnage due to recklessness and general disregard for traffic regulations.
The #StopGalamseyNow campaign, which also sought to raise awareness on illegal mining and its effect on water bodies and the environment.
Again, this purpose is evident in the tagline that Citi TV adopted for its brand – It’s Your World.
It is a testament to the brand’s outward focus i.e. on its audience it serves rather on itself.
It positions the brand as mirroring or reflecting the world of its audience.
From the moment they wake up to going through their day’s activities and when they go to bed, the Citi TV brand is an integral part of their audiences’ world.
It has creatively woven this purpose into its programming, touching on issues that its audience can identify and connect emotionally with.
This makes the audience believe that the brand understands their needs and cares about the things they care about.
Over the years, the Citi brand’s purpose has also been seen in the content that it has developed: authentic events and programs that seek to celebrate the culture of Ghana, some of which include:
– The HERITAGE CARAVAN, a fun-filled tour which offers patrons the opportunity to know more about the diversity in culture, people and places, as they tour various regions and exciting destinations across the country.
– The MUSIC OF GHANAIAN ORIGIN (MOGO) event which celebrates authentic Ghanaian highlife music.
– The BACK TO YOUR VILLAGE FOOD BAZAAR event which showcases delicious food from various parts of Ghana to patrons.
– The HERITAGE ARTS FESTIVAL, which serves as a platform for Ghanaian artistes to showcase their work telling the Ghanaian story through art.
I believe that consistently staying true to its purpose and ensuring that everything the brand does is defined by this purpose has allowed the brand to occupy a meaningful place in the minds of its audience and catapult its growth over the period.
2. A YOUTHFUL, FAMILY-ORIENTED COMPANY CULTURE
Another key factor I believe has helped the Citi brand is the creation of youthful, family-oriented company culture.
Employees spend a significant amount of their time in the office.
These employees come from different backgrounds and have different ways of doing things but having a clearly-defined company culture ensures that all employees are well-aligned around a common purpose; the company’s way of doing things.
The Citi brand, in my opinion, has been able to transform its employees into a family; one that engenders teamwork rather than individual “stars”.
However skilled a presenter or employee is, it is the brand that is the star and not the presenter/employee.
Such an approach fosters respect among employees because each employee’s skill is valued, motivating them to give off their best.
Again, when employees feel they are part of a family, they are more likely to stay at a company.
This might account for why comparatively, the Citi brand has been able to retain a lot of its on-air presenters.
It is also evident that in hiring new employees, the brand has consciously brought in personnel who fit its company culture rather than focus on “BIG NAMES”.
Noteworthy also is the brand’s predominantly young employees.
I recall when Citi FM started operations, a lot of young University graduates were given the opportunity to do radio, from the likes of Bernard Avle, Saint Doe Tamakloe, Farida Khailman, Ebenezer Amankwah and Kwame Gyan to Umaru Sanda, Godfred Akoto Boafo, A.J. Sarpong and many others.
Key managerial positions at Citi FM and Citi TV are also occupied by relatively by young people.
Bernard Avle (General Manager Citi FM/Citi TV)
Jessica Opare-Saforo (Programmes Manager, Citi 97.3 FM/Citi TV)
Vivian Kai Lokko (Head of News, Citi TV/Citi FM)
Nathan Quao (Head of Research, Citi FM/Citi TV)
Kojo Akoto Boateng (New Media Manager, Citi FM/Citi TV)
Philip Ashon (Head of TV Production, Citi TV) just to mention a few.
Why has this approach worked for the Citi brand?
It is because young employees usually have an appreciation of current trends and bring fresh perspectives and a different way of thinking to a business.
They also bring youthful exuberance, passion and enthusiasm which when well-harnessed and directed, can yield productive results for the company.
And that is what the Citi brand has been able to do successfully.
3. STRONG LEADERSHIP
Every business requires a leader who lives and breathes the brand in order to inspire the workforce to also display the same enthusiasm and passion for the brand.
Mr. Samuel Attah-Mensah affectionately called Sammens has been exemplary in this regard.
He has successfully guided and helped his team over the last 16 years to understand the purpose of the brand and to believe in it; to see the bigger picture and what their roles in that bigger picture are.
He has empowered his staff to grow by providing opportunities for them to improve on their work-related skills and knowledge.
Sammens has clearly been able to get the Citi brand to run like a well-oiled machine – with each part performing optimally to become a relevant and viable media brand today.
Certainly, it pays to be one who leads by example and not one who dictates.
4. STRONG IMMERSIVE BRAND EXPERIENCES
Humans have an intrinsic need to make connections with one another; to hang out with family and close friends.
Successful brands today are those that endear themselves to their consumers, by engaging them with experiences they can relate to; experiences they value; experiences that are memorable.
Citi has leveraged this successfully through the various events and promotions that it organises, using these to connect emotionally with its audience and deliver memorable experiences.
Events such as Decemba2Rememba provides the brand an opportunity to connect with its loyal audience each year.
Patrons look forward to showing up in their best white shirt and a pair of blue jeans.
It feels like a family; a community of like-minded people.
Through these events, the Citi brand has also been able to create a platform for its event sponsors to build a strong emotional connection with its target audience such that they have developed positive thoughts, feelings, beliefs, opinions and perceptions of not just the Citi brand but also that of sponsors.
And that wraps up my four key factors that I believe have contributed to the strength of the Citi FM/Citi TV brand over the years.
Authored by Bernard Adisi, a brand strategist who enjoys writing brand-related articles.
My articles seek to provide an honest, independent and insightful examination of the key strategies brands are employing to solidify their brand image and catapult their growth.
I would be happy to write an article on your brand.
Kindly send me a mail: [email protected]