Brands & Advertising

Branding: Marketers join in proffering solutions to Nigeria

by Editor

February 27, 2018 | 12:12 am
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For 48 years, Nigeria has searched for right approach to nation’s branding without success. This is in spite of think tanks, brand builders, celebrated marketers and professionals in Nigeria. Something fundamental obviously must therefore be the challenge.

The first attempt was the ‘Giant of Africa project’ during Yakubu Gowon era of 1966 -1975. The second approach was the ‘Heart of Africa project’ during the second coming of Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 -2007. The third was the ‘Good People, Great Nation’ campaign which started during the Yar’Adua era of 2007 -2010. The latest attempt is ‘Change begins with me’ under Buhari administration.

Over these years, the private sector has organised several conferences to stir the nation towards adopting a deliberate constructed approach in promoting the Nigerian brand, yet walking the talk has been difficult. But this has not stopped further discussions as effective branding of Nigeria will rub off on businesses and people.

On February 15, this year, National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria, NIMN deepened the discussion of nation branding when it assembled marketers, other private and public sector officials in Abuja to discuss imperatives of projecting and managing brand Nigeria.

At the well-attended conference, the lead speaker, Lolu Akinwunmi who is the CEO of Prima Garnet Africa welcomed the discussion because Nigeria remains elusive brand to the world. “We are very well known for the wrong reasons and yet terribly misunderstood”

Regretting that even Nigerians hold the same negative opinions on Nigeria as foreigners, Lolu told the audience that primarily Nigeria needs to hold positive promise in the mind of its stakeholders. “We are like a product with many attributes, but none is communicated to the customers”

In the competitive global market, Kenya is known for Wildlife tourism; India –Incredible; United States –Promise, fulfilment of dreams; Malaysia –Truly Asia; South Africa–Possibilities; Brazil – Football/Samba. But negative tag is filled in Nigeria’s void positive identity.

Lolu reminded Nigerians that all nations are competing for share of world’s attention and wealth and that development is as much a matter of positioning as anything else.

According to Lolu who championed the Good People, Great Nation’ campaign said Nigeria has a lot to sell to Nigerians and outside world. They are Nigeria’s huge market, huge endowment of natural resources, largest economy in Africa, incredibly creative and talented human capital, Nigeria’s creative arts that rule the continent, among many other feats.

He said in spite of all these, Brand Nigeria is one of the world’s most battered brands, known for 419, poor infrastructure, militancy, kidnapping, cultural schizophrenia, insecurity, bribery and corruption, and many more.

Moving forward, Lolu aligned with some resolutions of other discussions on Nigeria branding saying that government should perish the idea that it can drive the marketing of Nigeria alone. Other conferences have agreed that the  most successful nation-state positioning strategies have been driven by public-private partnership.

He also suggested for the review of the roles of current organs of communication such as NTA, FRCN, NOA and others. “While they were especially effective during the military era, they have since lost relevance in a totally different world. It underscores the need to review our communication policy. Their programmes are dull and don’t inspire. S/Africa has a state TV station that does not trumpet government positions, ditto BBC.  The truth is that in their present forms, they simply, mostly manage propaganda and not effective communication”

Looking at leadership, he said leadership at every position  is critical to evolving a strong nation brand. As a result, the country’s leaders should be the ambassador plenipotentiaries of the positioning, accentuating the positives. Their actions and body languages should resonate the very fabrics of the envisioned brand promises that Nigeria represents.

While stating that media is important as organ of mobilisation, Lolu concluded by telling government officials to consider giving key  positions and responsibilities to those trained in the discipline of brand management. “Branding and marketing Nigeria is primarily the task for marketing communication and marketing specialists”

Also speaking, the President of NIMN, Tony Agenmonmen strongly believe that the marketing principles that apply in ordinary day marketing can be applied to market brand Nigeria.

“The starting point is that a brand must mean something to the consumer, to be relevant. Similarly, we believe Nigerian  much mean something to Nigerians and to foreign audiences. We must find that hook that can connect brand Nigeria to its audiences. That is the beginning of how to build a love relationship between a brand and its target audience.

The NIMN president clarified that marketing Nigeria does not mean sloganeering, nor jingles or some PR stunt. “It is beyond all of that. As marketing professionals, we know that great brands were not built on such quick sand. Building brand Nigeria will not be any different”

Agenmonmen promised that the output of the conference will be a set of actionable points that the Institute shall formally present to the government as the contribution of the marketing community to the efforts of the government to build a country that is loved by its citizens and admired by the rest of the world.

He said the Institute also strongly aligns itself to the recommendation made last year by Biodun Shobanjo, chairman of Troyka Group for the government to set up a ‘’Team marketing Nigeria’’ to drive the  process through. “The team will comprise of  marketing communication experts in the private sector and knowledgeable people in government. This team will be responsible for the strategic design of a new ministry of marketing, in replacement of the current Ministry of Information, National Orientation Agency which are not designed for brand Nigeria of our dream”

In another forum last year on brand Nigeria organised by Brandish, Lampe Omoyele, the CEO of 141 Worldwide said that there is urgent need to search, identify and amplify Nigeria’s common purpose with a view to creating a uniform and consistent narrative around the Nigerian brand.

Omoyele further said that conversations around what strengthens Nigeria and which are sellable to other parts of the world must be aggregated and structured into a thematic campaign deliberately designed and targeted at critical power and economic centres.

From various conferences on brand Nigeria, including the recent one by NIMN, Nigerians are optimistic about the future if government will partner private sector and marketers to harness the country’s potentials and communicate the same  to  Nigerians and to outside world.

by Editor

February 27, 2018 | 12:12 am
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