23 Jun 2012

How to detoxify the Rangers brand

It might not seem obvious to some that pleading to play football in either non-league or Division 3 is the way to secure “Rangers” football.

So let me explain. I do so from Istanbul where I’ve spent the past three days with seriously big business beasts. Men who do not have CVs covered in wound-up companies. Men who are not being hounded by tax and other authorities.

Men like Marc Bolland the Marks and Spencer boss enthusing to me about the 100% recycled suit he’s wearing.

Men like Paul Bulke who runs Nestle operating in almost every country on the planet.

Men like Tesco boss Phil Clarke who’s steering stormy waters but still turning in record profits who says: “You know Alex – I’m just a grocer from Liverpool.”

Love or loathe the brands, we are talking serious global empires counted in billions who end up feeding much of the human race.

Interesting people who tend to speak quietly; careful in their language; measured in their approach; attending to the immediate with half an eye on the consequences of the immediate two or three steps ahead.

Men therefore, who will steadily speak of the world they inhabit – a place of strategy, vision, sustainability and the longterm.

And above all, way above all else, an almost pathological focus and obsession on the customer. What he/she wants? Always singular, never plural. An almost desperate desire to engender loyalty.

I find myself in the odd – probably unique – position this week in continuing to investigate “Rangers” from afar whilst in the company of these global corporate beasts close-up, in Istanbul. Two contrasting business worlds alright. The world players so different from those who seem to dominate the football business.

Where you seem to find so many men who brag. Loudly. Men who routinely take fans loyalty as a given – a mere commodity – to be traded, exploited. Men with CVs covered in folded fly-by-night companies you’ve never heard of. Men after quick returns.

Consider when you heard vocabulary like this in football generally, “Rangers” specifically: “sustainability”…”long-term”…”focus on the customer”…”earning and working for customer loyalty”…”doing good by doing good business”…

So I’ve been immersed in men who are the business polar-opposites of football’s spiv-set.

All of which merely underlines why “Rangers” future, their victory, their most potent business plan is staringly simple.

If the Newco was run by serious business people who scent sustainable success the first thing you do is detox the brand.

Face the facts – to many who have followed this sorry tale “Rangers” now equals corruption.  That is what the brand has come to now. There’s no escaping. Denial of this is death by criminal stupidity.

A global brand is now toxic. “Rangers” now means a revolting broth of tax-evasion; threatening corporate aggression ; a profoundly arrogant refusal to apologise ever to anyone for anything; a “case to answer” on years of organised cheating ; the brand name liquidated; the British taxpayer cheated; hundreds of small Scottish businesses, charities, colleges, councils out of pocket…I could go on.

In the end the old brand was so financially poisonous it was killed, abolished by law: liquidated.

Faced with this situation, what would our globally successful CEOs do?

Simple – detox the brand. Draw a line. Start anew. Begin again. And try to reward the extraordinary brand loyalty of fans which is about the one real asset “Rangers” still has.

The detox strategy? Also simple. Politely, humbly request formal rebranding, repositioning and relaunch. The three Rs to ensure the one R (“Rangers”) has a real sustainable future. The marketing will take care of itself.

As will the PR. The essence of top-class PR is being accidentally discovered at the scene of doing something good. So do it. Here’s how:

Request a re-start in Scottish League Division 3. Repositioning’s achieved. The new name takes care of the rebrand already. The relaunch is the blow of the whistle kicking off the first game of the season:

1. Govan Rangers are clean. Living within budget. Paying bills. Demonstrably detoxed unlike almost any other club in world football. Soon respected as such too.

2. Fantastic support and money suddenly injects into lower-league football (just what SFA says it wants under its latest merger plans)

3. SPL is suddenly competitive. Sure Celtic win it but Champions League is coming to St Mirren. Or somewhere.

4. No of league games means a big savings on policing bills and a lot of women not getting abused by men green and blue and Neanderthal all over

5. TV money comes into SPL just the same – as Sky ESPN have said

6. Vlad the Impaler over in Edinburgh has to find other targets for his amusing and trenchant opinions

7. Govan Rangers almost certainly get successive promotions and find they’ve used their Euro-ban years rather effectively. In no time they’re attracting serious talent on sensible PAYE wages because Champions’ League is just around the corner.

8. Suddenly all other club’s fans find there’s successful, clean Govan Rangers with a new history to be utterly proud of – so much so that some secretly begin to wish the old corrupt ways stayed so they could rightly insult a toxic brand allowed to stay in SPL/Div 1. But Govan Rangers were far too smart to fall for that trap, weren’t they?

9. The SPL and SFA, with appropriate psychiatric support and therapy, come to see it’s all a beginning and not the end of the world having GR outwith the top flight as they hurtle ever upwards in the coming seasons

10. The succulent lamb media culture – with similar counselling to the SPL/SFA, also realise you can’t kill the WATP loyalty. It stays. It sells papers. But everyone grows up and realises the days of fawning to Ibrox – or Parkhead are dead and gone. They’re just another club. Questioned, examined like any other. Except they’re not, they’re the one club with nothing to hide.

Ten reasons then to rebrand, reposition and relaunch. And bring Scottish football – not just “Rangers” – back from the brink.

It’s easy. To quote the slogan of a successful global sporting brand:

“Just Do It”

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