Positive story telling as part of enhancing destination branding

Over time patriotism has been equated to the love of country mainly demonstrated through various ways such as the donning of national flag colours, ability to sing the national anthem, fluency in national languages and, to a good extent, an expression of endorsement of one’s country when an opportunity arises.

While this may suffice for purposes of identifying with one’s country, it is clear that globalisation has availed many opportunities that allow people to be global citizens, yet their original identity can still play a great role in positive storytelling for their countries.

Living in one country for purposes of work and belonging to another by the origin and a frequent visitor to another perhaps because of family ties may result to splitting one’s own loyalty to their original motherland. In such circumstances, there are citizens in diaspora who get trapped in a mix of identities, cheering on the one end, for example, a local team in their country of residence while fully donned in their ‘patriotic colours’ to curse the ‘ills’ back home!

Enhancing destination branding through positive storytelling contributes a great deal in influencing the choice that travellers make. A destination with the endorsement of positive attributes is likely to get more people interested to visit since awareness will be higher. This endorsement may be directly from those who have visited the destination and also those who have the destination on their bucket list.

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What role, therefore, do the citizens play in positive storytelling to enhance the image of the country brand on which tourism thrives? With a population of over 40 million people, 70 per cent of the people rated as literate, there would be the great impact if a good number of these Kenyans penned a good story about our country even once a week.

We are home to the marathoners, we have an over 400km stretch of pristine beaches, we are an innovation leader through products like Mpesa and our coffee, flowers, tea and other agricultural produce are celebrated throughout the world.

For visitors to believe in our country, we must ourselves project the positive attributes that we are proud of. Kenya is endowed with, six-star tourism experiences that are spread in every part of the country.

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The  eighth wonder of the world at the Mara, rich diversity in culture, adventure in mountain climbing and biking in parks, an opportunity for breakfast with giraffes, a swim with dolphins and so much more form part of the magic of Kenya’s heritage.

For the untold stories to reach the rest of the world, we must take responsibility and tell the stories ourselves and increase the equity of our country brand in order to compete well in the international arena. 

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Many destination brands rely heavily on the positive halo effect that their brands lend to them to influence consumer choice. Effective storytelling has gained recognition as a major tool that connects the brand with its consumers and enhances a destination’s brand positioning.

A well-positioned brand reaps from many fronts including economically, socially, environmentally and general positioning in the global scene.

Kenya has the potential to be the top destination in Africa and we all stand a chance in positioning her as a destination of choice to visitors and investors alike. We must not limit ourselves in telling the story of Kenya.

Compelling storytelling must become part of our DNA about all the unique offering that our country has. We must not allow stereotypes to overtake the positives that we ought to share with the rest of the world.

Next time you express thoughts about your country, commit to the positives; it could be the peace we enjoy, the all-year-round good weather, the beautiful sunsets, the ride on the SGR, access to fresh farm produce, good education, great golf courses, a game park in the city, the tasty nyama choma and much more.

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We must leverage on opportunities and the dynamism that storytelling creates to build and protect our country’s brand as part of delivering economic prosperity to our beloved nation and grooming the next generation in the true love of our country.

It is not enough to don the Kenyan flag bracelet! Let us tell the story of Kenya in a powerful, dynamic and personal way. Let us use positive storytelling to transform our destination brand in the global arena. We can tell these stories right from home or from various countries of residence away from home as Kenya’s diaspora.

For starters, we have a great opportunity yet again to rally behind marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge, a superstar who has made our country proud alongside other athletes. Let us complement these wins with our positive storytelling. In the long term, we will attract more investment, more tourists, new market opportunities all translating to more jobs and an improved economy.

Ms Wausi is a public relations practitioner and a PhD student at United States University, Kenya. [email protected]

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