7 January 2012 0 Comments

Africa National Brand Communication: is this what we want?

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals

National branding is as essential as any other forms of branding. Any nation that ignores this does so at its own peril. America is not just a world leader by mouth; it has consciously raised the bar of positioning despites its multi-various challenges. Successful American leaderships, even though not at their best or perfect forms have never forgotten what makes the nation great.Africa National brand communication, National branding, brand communication, African leadership

National branding is all about understanding what a nation stands for. It is all about understanding national uniqueness. It is working hard on better positioning. It is working with internal audience and crafting policies which enhance such belief systems. Many African nations today are still sleep-walking. Even though we have a lot going for us, which could help the continent become a reference point, leadership and followership antecedents had denied this great continent its prime position.

While we cannot deny a couple of consistent efforts being made by nations like South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia and a couple of others, other Africa big brothers have not seen a need to properly communicate a unique essence that could help them gain recognition of their viable as well as enviable potentials, team spirit, ruggedness, enduring and hard working spirits.

Silently, Nations like United Arab Emirate and Abu Dhabi(?) are today positioning seemingly unknown names before. These nations are consistently and subtly working day and night and this is obvious to a discerning eye. They are using all forms of media, that is after putting the right structure in place upon which the superstructure will stand.

Africa is a continent blessed, favoured with great and enterprising people. Interestingly, we have allowed global media to shape our perceptions of who we are. Africa leadership and followership has allowed itself to develop wrong belief about their essence. African culture is silently being destroyed and yet we seem to like it. African image has not changed much from Dark Continent of the world, yet African Icons are everywhere creating desired turnaround for other continents. My concern today as I woke up is why African Nations lives their national brand communication to chances. No brand is ever successful leading such lifestyle. Here is what I think each African nation should do as a matter of urgency.

Craft a vision: what does your nation stand for? While each nation has several unique features to position, what is that one thing that will make a lot of difference? What is each nation’s vision aside from useless by-lines. What I do know is that not many African nations lack the ability to craft excellent vision but the problem is always in implementation.

Leadership and management: There is no brand communication effort that can be successful without leadership commitment. It starts with proper understanding of what the vision is. It is followed by willingness to set example for the governed. No lip service will work in this project.

The brand ambassadors: Brand ambassadors must understand what their brands (nations) stand for. Crafting any vision with people support, involvement will make the process a white elephant project- this has been the bane of many national rebranding process.

Technology and Media Use: A cursory look at most formidable nations will show clear evidence that they are not perfect, without national challenges. But those nations understand the power of technology and other right media which aid effective brand communication.

Consistency and tenacity of purpose:  a clear signal that can damage and national brand communication is lack of consistency. Most new government seems to see past initiatives as out rightly bad.  They rather throw out the baby with the bath water. There is need to acknowledge great past initiative instead of spreading bad feelings.

This is the thought that woke me up in the early hours today. It appears to be out of place but we may not be able be able to run away from our thoughts for long time. What is your opinion? Do you have any idea Africa national brands or any brands at all can be effectively communicated? Use the comment’s section.

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