By LUCELL LARAWAN
BRANDS can be several times more valuable than one’s business. Companies like McDonald’s and Starbucks are unarguably successful brands. Their brands are worth more than all their equipment, capital goods and buildings.
The armed services like the US Army, Navy, or Air Force make sure their people make their brand physically, mentally and spiritually. This is true in one of the most elite fighting units in the world—the Navy SEALs (which means sea, air and land). In selecting Navy SEALs, the aspirants undergo an extremely arduous two-year training where 75 to 90 percent cannot usually make it into the list of SEALs. Every SEAL wannabe undergoes “drown proofing” where they are bound hand and foot, thrown into deep water and should get into the surface, somehow while holding their breath. Then they must swim 50 meters while still bound.
The worst challenge for the SEAL aspirants might be the “Hell Week”—a period where hopefuls are kept awake for 20 hours a day, doing punishing drills, while constantly invited to quit. At the conclusion of Hell Week, aspirants who do not quit face a hose of freezing cold water to induce hypothermia; then they swim for miles through the ocean. After swimming, their instructors hand them a mug of hot chocolate, but can only drink it if they admit failure and drop out—the hardest many SEALs have ever done.
When the SEAL Team Six killed Osama Bin Laden, their brand reverberated throughout the world. Their code of silence even made their brand more powerful.
Another legend of all times in terms of brand-building was Attila the Hun. His reputation preceded him so powerfully that opposing armies often bow out before fighting him. Although his leadership spanned from 434 to 453 A.D., people still speak of Attila. This is brand power.
Even criminal minds or organizations have brands. They strike fear everywhere—Yakuza of Japan, Cali cartel and Medellin cartel of Columbia, Bernie Madoff and Charles Ponzi.
What do these examples say about companies that merely provide a barrage of meaningless and loud advertising? They are not building brands and are just becoming a nuisance.
I am touring you to the stories of brands because we are facing brand-challenged political parties and their henchmen.
When Congress approved the P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the naïve made a noise. But what everyone must see is what or who is behind Chito Gascon, its chief. Gascon used to be the 2009 leader of the Liberal Party (LP) and also suborned vice president Leni Robredo towards speaking what a political party thinks about the Philippine scenario before the UN. Gascon’s actions are clearly not reflecting the mandate of CHR which is to protect the rights of everyone, regardless of party affiliation. Gascon just made his office an extension of LP. Since he obviously made CHR as an attack dog for the Liberal Party—even destroying the country’s image before the international community—Gascon must first look at the mirror and see for himself whether he is still valuable to society with his political biases using CHR. He and CHR lost the brand: the P1,000 budget for 2018 might even be too much for his betrayal of the public’s trust.
In order to redeem the real value of CHR, it must be rid of all political ISIS and vicious mercenaries from any party. It needs apolitical public servants with non-selective hearts.
And what about the brand of the Liberal Party and senator Antonio Trillanes? The Liberal Party nose dived when former president Benigno Aquino III tolerated his cousin at NAIA and the talim-bala. The LP lost its magnet when people heard about how the previous administration turned a blind eye to Vitangcol who made MRT and LRT experience miserable (The government could not use those trains they purchased under Vitangcol’s leadership.) The party lose its savor when members become apologetic about the Mamasapano debacle. We cannot miss the stark reality: that corrupt allies are prospering, thus creating an image that spurns a sense of integrity among their ranks. We cannot avoid what really happened: that social services were too slow during calamities—thanks to their constant sloganeering that advertise otherwise.
The only virtue that Senator Trillanes seems to prove is being a political assassin. No wonder he needs to create a good brand first before wasting time, saying he gets rid of the anomaly that is called Duterte. If the senate allows Trillanes’ brand to erode the credibility of the institution, it is because they allow it. Why insist on using the senate as a platform for political assassination attempts that most netizens cannot accept using taxpayers’ money? Why would a mere political mercenary win in the Philippine society?
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