Branding is the change we need!
Branding is the greatest wealth creator in the world today. The rich nations are rich because they have created and built global brands, which they have successfully sold to the rest of the world. For every Yamaha generator or motorcycle you see around you, Japan is the richer for it. And for every Nokia handset you see, a tiny European country named Finland is the richer for it. Even though Africa is blessed with enormous natural resources, Africans have remained poor not only because our leaders are corrupt, but also mainly because we are not building globally competitive brands. China has become an economic superpower in the world today, because “Made in China” no longer means “inferior”.
Creating globally competitive brands is not limited to products. You can create a globally competitive nation brand. This is what our Arab brothers have done successfully with Dubai, using the same oil money that has only succeeded in driving us crazy around here. Our people are poor today because we are not creating globally competitive brands, which would create millions of jobs and transform lives.
As a brand, our nation falls far below what is globally competitive. The country does not have constant electricity, potable water, world class healthcare and excellent educational institutions. I cannot identify a single airport in this country today that meets today’s high standards in aviation.
In our Federal Capital Territory, the very heart of our nation, the best hotels are foreign brands! The best of course is the Transcorp Hilton, where all the big men go, including government people. They spend billions annually of our money, promoting and sustaining this foreign brand! Yet in faraway America, a certain young girl whose name is Paris Hilton will never be poor in her life, not because she is beautiful or talented, but simply because her name is Hilton, and she is grand daughter of Pa Hilton himself, who created this hotel brand! Do we see the connection? Can our so-called elites in this country ever SEE the connection? It is a shame that today we do not have a single hotel brand. Rather, the ones we had were “re branded”, and given away to foreigners. Take Ikoyi Hotel. It is now Southern Sun, a South African brand. Federal Palace Hotel had earlier gone the same way.
Instead of having Federal Palace, Abuja; Federal Palace, Kano; Federal Palace Port Harcourt, etc, what do we have today? Consider the old Durbar Hotel, which is now re branded as a Golden Tulip brand. The company that has pumped billions of naira into this renovation and the promotion of Golden Tulip brand is none other than one of our conglomerates, UAC, known for “doing good”. I am surprised because this is the same company that created the Mr. Biggs brand. Now, let us consider PROTEA HOTEL, a South African brand, which has suddenly sprung up all over Nigeria. Now, am told PROTEA does not own any of the properties it operates in this country. Which means the South Africans simply came with their brand. They have wisely concentrated on building a brand, while my people here are busy building hotels. If you go to their website, they will tell you how many Protea Hotels there are across Africa, including Nigeria. Who is the smarter here? A hotel is mere brick and glass. A brand is so much more! (apologies DSTV).
For our country to be a globally competitive brand, it must meet a certain minimum internationally acceptable standard of development. This means uninterrupted power supply, world class airports, excellent educational institutions, social security, social infrastructure, low unemployment level, a minimum standard of living that guarantees decent housing and other basic comforts. The average Nigerian is a microcosm of the Nation Brand, and until we have leadership that is deeply committed to uplifting the standard of living of the average Nigerian, we cannot talk of a good Nation Brand. Now, is the Ministry of Information and Communications in a position to make these things happen?
But this is only the minimum. For us to be a great nation brand, we must begin to do great things. For me, the starting point is the day our leaders begin to say things like; we are the biggest black nation in the world, we must build the biggest airport in Africa; as one of the largest oil producers in the world, we must build the world’s largest petrochemical industry; as the biggest black nation in the world, we deserve to have the biggest hotel in Africa, the tallest building in Africa must be found in our country, the biggest stadium, the biggest and best hospital, the biggest leisure resort must be found on our shores, the biggest and best university in Africa must belong to us, and so on.
• Muyiwa Kayode is CEO at USP Brand Management
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