We are governed by subconscious memories that we have of brands as branding is distilling the essence of a place into an easily communicable symbol.
Campaign, logo, advert or a mantra cannot brand a country. A country being on the map is not just about the physical presence but it’s the mental presence that it has in people’s minds within and beyond its borders which creates value.
A country is a product or a service, not a space with people inhabiting it identifying themselves via flag, language and physical appearance.
Other countries treat themselves as business products and services they have done so much to ensure that they have one communicable message, which is not just tied to the head of state but to every citizen.
America was deliberately constructed and created to be a prolific product and service as its architects knew what they wanted to accomplish to get the rest of the world to love and admire it.
If you meet an American they would tell you that America is the best country in the world, and Americans have a sense of pride and patriotism because they were taught how to be American.
Looking at Zimbabwe, we all do not know what being a Zimbabwean is , what we stand for, what we can do or capable of and where we are going because nobody ever told us or begun the conversation to create that.
Zimbabwe is a big consumer of other nations country Branding projects, let’s look at how these nations have been branding themselves to us, so that we understand clear practical examples of country branding .We have owned or still own apparel items labelled ,’’I love New York ‘’ , ‘’Paris Eiffel Tower’’ , ‘’Great Wall China ‘’, ‘’London Bridge’’ or ‘’Nike’’ , ‘’Reebok ‘’ ‘’USA’’.
They looked colorful, well designed, authentic and fashionable to wear but they were branding all of us to have better perception, knowledge and increased love for their country of origin. Most Zimbabweans over the years have made their study, immigration, shopping or investment choice based on just that.
Our own National Broadcaster played a role in allowing other countries to Brand themselves in Zimbabwe, as they played movies, sitcoms, game shows, and music videos, which showed places in different countries, fashion items, automobile, culture and many more. American music videos and movies always show case, fashion, culture, places, people, buildings and entertainment.
You know about it because America showed it to you in a very indirect attractive and entertaining way to the extent that you know what the white house looks like , or New York Times Square, even their state security agencies like FBI, CIA, NSA and CTU you can name and identify them.
Because we have been watching and enjoying them, we think of the world about America and all our purchase decisions are based on what we have been seeing.
America barely uses campaigns to say come to America, you just want to go without them telling you to come. Eventually everybody’s money ends up in the Bank of America and our own reserve empty.
Zimbabwe has a choice to make, to keep on focusing on its old ways, or to renew itself and start taking Country Branding as its daily bread because for the global market to make a choice about doing anything for or in Zimbabwe, they must like us, we must be likable but only if we are proactive and creative about branding because people are governed by the subconscious memory they have about brands.
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.