In an increasingly closely linked world not only companies but also countries are engaged in competition at every level.
Globalization is turning the world into a supermarket where countries compete to stimulate exports, attract tourism, foreign direct investments and immigration.
Governments are turning to branding techniques to differentiate their country on the global stage in order to establish a competitive edge over rival countries in the belief that a strong country brand can contribute to the country’s sustainable development.
Nations have identities too just like products, a country without a Brand Strategy or Branding remains staggering in obscurity as it has no competitive advantage on the global market.
If globalization was a person it would be an extrovert and the question is, is Zimbabwe an Extrovert like America or its neighbour South Africa? Brand America is like a polished up consistent extrovert salesman that knocks on the doors of ordinary citizens in different markets globally, selling its brand attributes cashing in revenue.
But the question is what is Zimbabwe doing? Is Brand Zimbabwe knocking? or it keeps opening doors for others welcoming them as it is just a buyer and not a seller? And does Zimbabwe know that it has a Brand?
In simple terms, Country Branding is the process of shaping and creating communicable attributes of a nation both internally and externally, or should we say it’s a process of creation and promotion of a country’s values .
A simple test for Brand Index Attributes is to look inside our garages, closets, computers ,phones and cupboards and compile a list of item’s the country of origin, one would observe that, South Africa will feature for (food), America for (Entertainment & Culture), China for (Clothes & Electronic) and Japan for ( Cars).
If we do the same test in the same countries or even other countries, it would be hard to find an item with the Country Origin written ‘’ Made in Zimbabwe ‘’ . As we consume other country Brands, a better perception, knowledge and viability is created for those brands and we end up making choices for tourism, trade, investment, higher learning and immigration in favour of those Brands.
Everything is mental, and if nobody is consuming Zimbabwe, then Zimbabwe will continue to have image and economic challenges.
America remains a world giant as it has exported its culture globally and keeps retaining revenue from it being loved and admired. Malaysia is popularly known as one of the world’s biggest edu-tourism hub as it offers world class university campuses, affordable international degrees ,unlimited entertainment ( events ) and low costs high quality living. United Arab Emirates has produced world class cities like Dubai and Abhu Dhabi with high quality out of this world infrastructure, as each city has its own Brand (City Branding) acquiring investment.
Every country has done its own best to ensure that their Brand Index Attributes remain unique, strong, reputable and lovable so that income is made from the international community.
Embracing country branding means embracing economic and image change for the country sustainably. Zimbabwe must collectively start branding it self.
Tare Munzara is a country branding expert, and is also the chief executive officer at Destination Marketing International. Do not miss the next edition of the column next week.