A Developing Brand: Al Jazeera America

ALJAZEERA AMERICA 2Its parent company is anti-America; at least many fear that it is. Al Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar and Qatar itself is essentially ruled by one family. Qatar has lots of oil and gas. They’re obscenely wealthy. I should also point out that the US government considers Qatar to be an ally, not a terrorist threat (Google it and see for yourselves).

Al Jazeera began in 1996 and rose to international fame, in part, because of the widely held belief throughout the world that they provided the most in-depth and objective reporting on the war in Afghanistan of any news agency attempting to cover the war, including the entire American media.

They’ve just launched Al Jazeera America (www.aljazeera.com) and that includes television news coverage along with their website. How well they do (or not) is, I believe, an important object lesson in developing the strength of a Brand based on the definition of a Brand being: a widely held set of beliefs and expectations about what you deliver and how you deliver it.

Here is Al Jazeera’s stated mission: “Offer an intelligent, unbiased, wide-reaching alternative to the broken and pitted mess that is currently in place.”

That’s a pretty clear picture of the experience they intend to deliver. It says something about their Values: integrity; truth; and authenticity to name a few. It’s also a strong opinion of the current state of the depth, quality and objectivity of the news media in the U.S.

So the stage is set and the battle for Brand strength can begin. Of course, how and how well Al Jazeera is able to deliver their desired Brand experience is very much up in the air: the scope of television distribution; numbers of viewers reached, time slots; sponsorship (although with the backing of the government of Qatar they can probably go it alone if they choose); and of course the biggie – the appeal of their presentations to an American audience.

But while all these elements are being sorted out, an important object lesson in Brand experience will be unfolding for all to see in real time. The networks better be paying close attention. Their futures may depend on it.

And for the rest of us an equally important demonstration will be taking place. If Al Jazeera’s distribution reaches enough people, we will witness what happens when authenticity, depth and clarity compete with clever fact spinning, half-truths and sound bites. The strength of their Brand and the veracity of their Values will be visible to all.

It could sound the alarm to all of us who present our Brands, personally and organizationally, with less than full authenticity. Stay tuned. The formula for your success may emerge from it as well.

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