The 3Ps of Nation Branding three
This is the last in a three-part series. Branding a nation to greatness involves the successful branding of what I have identified as the 3 Ps. These are People, Places and Products. We must brand ourselves as a people, our cities by way of destination branding, and our products as proudly Nigerian brands. If we are able to do these successfully, we shall be a great nation. So how do we brand our products for competitive advantage and reap the bountiful rewards of economic prosperity that naturally comes with having a bouquet of globally competitive brands?
We must begin by changing our orientation and strategy, by instituting a culture that demands value creation and value addition to our natural resources. For example, it doesn’t make sense to export cocoa and import chocolates. We have known this all along. It is simply stupid. We must invest in turning our natural products to brands. The people most responsible for driving this process are the state governors, but they must work closely with the private sector. In previous articles I have outlined how the various states can leverage their natural resources to develop competitive advantage and stimulate the creation and development of brands. I will give a few examples.
Osun State, which has gained popularity as one of the states unable to pay salaries, is a cocoa producing state. This is a cash crop upon which the prosperity of the old Western Region was built. A standing monument and legacy of those good old days is the Cocoa House, still standing till this day and which was the first skyscraper in West Africa. Unfortunately, in recent years, our governors have lapsed into the lazy habit of waiting for the monthly allocation from Abuja. And when the amounts started to dwindle due to the twin problem of low oil prices and corruption, they simply folded their arms, giving the lame and irresponsible excuse that there is no money to pay salaries. In this same Osun State, cocoa farmers harvest their crop, dry the beans and sell to an international market where they have no control over the price of their produce. Just like we have no control over the price of the crude oil on which we depend so much.
Why should we produce cocoa and sell to those who will make brands of chocolates and sell to us? Osun State should have built industrial clusters where all the bye products of cocoa are produced for local consumption and export. This will naturally lead to the creation of proudly Nigerian brands, job creation and wealth creation. When people are gainfully employed, they will pay taxes and enable the state government raise revenues for development projects. It is irresponsible of any state government to complain of bankruptcy where the state have natural resources that can be leveraged to create brands, wealth and economic empowerment.
While a lot of entrepreneurs want to create proudly Nigerian brands, we are not helped by a bunch of lazy governors who lack the mental application and commitment to create a conducive environment for industries to thrive. They only pay lip service to industrialisation while foolishly frittering our commonwealth away. They sit on vast natural resources but fail to establish merit based systems that will unlock the economic potential of their respective states. They refuse to engage visionary and competent people who will help implement economic stimulants and free the people from perpetual poverty. It is a satanic malady, because by keeping the people in poverty they are able to introduce such primitive and barbaric programs as ‘stomach infrastructure’ and buy the peoples’ votes. They will tell you that this is the language the people understand. This generation of delinquent politicians are a curse unto this nation and by every means possible, must be uprooted from our political forest.
Developing our products means we need to think Nigerian. But more importantly we need our leadership to recognize the need to go a step beyond harnessing our natural resources and build brands from those resources. Conceptually, we have what is known as ‘Abakaliki Rice’. We also have ‘Ofada Rice’. These have the potential to be developed into strong brands for local consumption and export. Globally, it is common to identify wine by the region from which it originated. The producers however go several steps further by leveraging the unique attributes of this natural origin to create brand value. This is the example we need to emulate.
We have had ‘Ijebu Garri’ long before I learnt to walk. Yet it has remained just that! Because successive leadership in Ogun State failed to realize that strong brands can be developed from ‘Ijebu Garri’ to the extent that people all over West Africa and beyond will be relishing different food brands developed from ‘Ijebu Garri’. We have several products whose unique attributes have conferred on them a good name and made them the preferred choice among Nigerians. The respective states from which these products emanate, should take them several steps further by developing them into various proudly Nigerian brands.
In developing these brands we must note the basic elements of successful branding, based on the value creation imperative. Brand building belongs to those who believe in value creation. But if we cannot get our political leaders thinking this way, we must get them out of office as quickly as 2019. Any office seeker who lacks the consciousness and seriousness to build wealth and free the common people from perpetual poverty must be consigned to the trash bin of political failure. They have no place in the future of this country. The future belongs to those who have the vision to see a people free from poverty and a nation that guarantees comfortable living standards for even the people on the minimum wage.
We should create several Brand Nigeria Trade Fairs for the various categories of products and in different regions across the country to promote our brands every year. This will create platforms for interaction with prospective trade partners from within and outside the country and strengthen economic cooperation with other countries around Africa and beyond who form a portion of the critical mass our brands need to thrive.
When we have a proliferation of industrial clusters all over the country, churning out proudly Nigerian brands, we shall be well on the way to enjoying a nation where poverty is a thing of the past and the cumulative brand equity these products bring to the nation brand, delivers prosperity for all.
• Muyiwa Kayode is CEO at USP Brand Management and author, The Seven Dimensions of Branding. Brand Nation is a platform for promoting national development based on the universal principles of branding.
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