Brand Kenya: Government Must Involve Citizenry

Published on 25th May 2009

Rugby Sevens: Kenya's Pride   Photo: AE graphics
It is officially out -The Kenyan government seeks to utilize a marketing and Public Relation staff to brand Kenya. A team has been set up to come up with strategies that will radically improve Nairobi’s glory ahead of the South Africa World Cup to get the spoils that may accrue from the world adored football extravaganza. However, a section of the public holds that the political class first needs to put its act together before the branding can start. There is a lot of animosity towards the Brand Kenya with pundits calling it a waste of state resources.

 

Despite the war cries from various sectors, the Brand Kenya initiative is raring to go to make Nairobi a major tourism and investment destination. The reality is that to market Nairobi, there must be concerted efforts by a team consisting of Nairobi Central Business District, the ministry of Tourism and the Nairobi City Council. The players have moved in fast to create this. The think tanks of this movement knew what they were doing to fish the re-known performer Philip Kisia from Kenyatta International Conference Centre to Nairobi City council.

 

With the back drop of over 1000 murders in Post Election Violence, food insecurity, increased crime levels, elusive constitution and politically standoff, the query pops out clearly- is Brand Kenya a waste of time and resources or a step in the right direction? The failure to capture the Obama sensation might have caused the government to wake up to smell the coffee. Coupled with the coming of the World Cup in few months time, the opportunity cannot be squandered.

 

State branding aims to appraise, build and maintain the reputation of countries. It borrows various approaches from saleable brand management practices in an effort to build, change, or protect their intercontinental reputations. Brand images of countries are just as imperative to their success in the global marketplace as those of products and services.

 

An increasing importance of the symbolic value of products has led countries to accentuate their distinctive characteristics. The branding and reflection of a nation-state "and the successful transference of this image to its exports - is presently as important as what they actually produce and sell."

 

Nation branding appears in the United States and United Kingdom (where it is officially referred to as Public Diplomacy,) South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, and most Western European countries. There is increasing curiosity in the conception from poorer states on the grounds that an enhanced image might fashion more favorable conditions for foreign direct investment, tourism, trade and even political relations with other states.

 

Across the Indian Ocean is Singapore, a classic example. It has run successful six-year highlighting of its unique blend of the best from the modern world and rich cultures and how visitors could be enriched by experiencing the city’s diverse offerings. Singapore has drawn reputation from its efficiency and quality. The process of developing the Singapore brand went deeper than building a surname around the tangible attributes of a destination. It also focused on service delivery as well as the perceptions of Singaporeans.

 

For Brand Kenya, where do we need to start? The nitty-gritty things taught in business schools may not go down to quench the thirst of those who seek enlightment on such a maneuver. Kenya is a brand and selling it has been done wittily. From the day we attained our independence and the beautiful national flag was hoisted with a new song “Oh God of all Creation, Bless this our land and Nation, justice be our shield and defender…,” the Kenyan Brand was born.

 

When Kenya Airways- the pride of Africa- lands in any part of the world, those who can read gain the knowledge of Brand Kenya. When Kenyan tea is drank in Texas or Pakistan, Brand Kenya is sold in that cold summer. When our athletes confronted by the cold weather participate in global events such as the Boston Marathon, Brand Kenya wins admiration and attention. When our rugby team bwogos the giants like Fiji, the rating of Brand Kenya rises. When our president or the prime Minister lands in any country, Brand Kenya is recognized.

 

Kenyan ambassadors in word or deed –the Politicians, the sportsman, the academia, and the businessmen give Brand Kenya prominence but the marketing activities will give Brand Kenya eminence which is the trick of what a brand is all about.

 

Branding Kenya is a step in the right direction but it must not be made a short term work. We must demand responsible leadership, upholding the rule of law, maintaining investor confidence and form a culture that the populace of Kenya are not only proud to uphold but also careful to guard. In the end Branding Kenya is not just a government role but every conscious citizen that looks with hope for the country’s prosperity. Brand Kenya is not just about the government it is about the country.

 

By Zephania Thaisaiyi Opati

 zephaniaho@yahoo.com

The writer is a postgraduate student at Universiti Teknologi Mara –Malaysia.

 


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