Amazing, but Osama bin Laden’s writings show that Al-Qaeda had a “marketing problem.” A branding problem, in fact. Surprised? A letter found in his Pakistani compound expresses his concern that the group’s original name, Al-Qaeda Al-Jihad, (The Base of Holy War) was widely known as the abbreviated “Al-Qaeda,” which omitted the reference to holy war.
What’s more, The Associated Press reported that his group was killing too many Muslims and that was bad for business. The West was winning the public relations fight, all his old comrades were dead, and he barely knew their replacements. Poor guy.
The problem with the name Al-Qaeda, bin Laden wrote in a letter recovered from his compound in Pakistan, was that it lacked a religious element, something to convince Muslims worldwide that they are in a holy war with America … The documents portray bin Laden as a terrorist chief executive, struggling to sell holy war for a company in crisis.
Why mention this now? To make a point that marketing and branding issues are ubiquitous. Even some terrorist groups “get” branding.
So, my $64,000 question is: Why are there still so many companies and organizations that don’t “get” branding? And, I don’t just mean the name or look of the organization. I mean the entire brand impression and experience.
Whether your organization is a small, mid-sized, or large business, a nonprofit, or government agency, does it have a branding problem like Al-Qaeda’s? What would it take for your chief executive and/or board of directors to invest more in branding? (If you don’t want to share your own org story, give us some generic suggestions.)
- Al-Qaeda has an image problem, needs a new name, Bin Laden wrote in letter
- Osama Bin Laden, Marketing Man