By Musyoki Kivindyo
We are pleased to note increased awareness on the need for country branding and welcome views such as reader Benard Amaya’s (The Standard, Nov. 27). Country Branding is a journey that involves fulfillment of some key milestones before the Brand is taken public.
It may seem obvious, but the critical first step is discovering what Kenya is about and what can be used effectively to market Kenya. We have tourism, sports, natural resources, flowers, tea, coffee and culture, but we find the single most valuable asset we can use as the principal marketing platform.
We must also identify the key differentiators from the competition and creating a unique selling point. The next step is distilling the brand, creating a Brand Identity and communicating it locally and internationally.
Country Branding is not just about advertising wildlife, but is also the character of the People, clean streets, reliable power supply, good roads, ease of registering a business, security and the like. These are the intrinsic values that will build a strong Kenyan brand.
Brand Kenya Board is pleased that your esteemed newspaper recognises the role of Kenyan Citizens in Country Branding (Editorial — The Standard Nov. 24) and more directly sportsmen and women. Through their individual efforts, these fine men and women gain glory for themselves, cash in their bank account and ultimately fame for Kenya.
Kenyan runners top the list of world record holders and are repeat medalists making Kenya synonymous with marathons and steeplechases. David Rudisha who has just been named World Male Sportsman of the Year is a star in a list that includes Samuel Wanjiru, Ebuya, Cheruiyot, Mutai, Mateelong, Chebet, Makau, Jepkosgei, Jelimo and dozens of others.
Brand Kenya Board established in 2008, has recognised the value of these great ambassadors for Brand Kenya and developed an engagement strategy that will harness the great work they are doing for Kenya’s image.
Record 12 times
In April, the Board hosted the World Cross Country team for breakfast and held a road show for the team around Nairobi, to appreciate and enlist them as key Brand representatives for Kenya.
This team led by Richard Mateelong stunned the athletics world by literally "taking over" the entire medal stand in Poland. The Kenyan National Anthem was played a record 12 times. There is no positioning greater than this.
The next stage is to have an annual engagement programme with athletics, where Brand Kenya harnesses the value created by athletics to promote Kenya’s image. To succeed in this initiative, the Board must work with other organisations. Discussions are underway with the National Olympic Committee to develop means to honour our athletes and develop the talent pipeline. Sustaining the winning ways will make sure the brand endures.
The Kenya Rugby Sevens team which caused great excitement in Rugby circles, created massive value for Kenya among fervent rugby fans internationally. Their performance over the last two years — Dubai, US — crowned with lifting the Safaricom Sevens trophy is the sort of brand marketing Kenya needs.
Brand Kenya recognises the potency of such events and is planning to participate at brand positioning level at the IRB Las Vegas tournament to be held February 12-13, next year, as well as the games in London to be played May 21-22.
Kenyans have been known to turn out in such large numbers in Dubai and the US circuit, creating an electric buzz that charges the entire stadium. Thus Kenyans are known as happy, enthusiastic, generous, and above all, patriotic.
Away from sports, Kenya also has high achievers in other sectors, who are contributing to boosting national reputation as a country with highly skilled human resource. Recently, the Board hosted Mr Evans Wadongo a young, innovative and enterprising Kenyan who was selected as a CNN Hero: Young Wonder.
Wadongo was nominated for his work in lighting up his village with simple solar-powered lanterns made from locally available material. His innovative programme dubbed ‘Use Solar, save Lives’ was showcased worldwide on CNN alongside other innovative achievers from across the world. Mr Wadongo is the only African among all the top ten CNN heroes in 2010.
not just wildlife
At a briefing to send off Wadongo to the US, Brand Kenya presented him with information and material for use in marketing Kenya on his trip.
Developing a strong brand and communicating it internationally requires resources both human and financial. As we lays the foundation for Country branding, increased allocation of resources will put us firmly on track to take Kenya to the next level. One of our strategic objectives is to promote Kenya’s "soft capital" such as sports, music, culture, and cuisine as part of the drive to make Kenya an attractive place to work, live and invest in.
—The writer is the Director of Communication at Brand Kenya Board.