Nation Branding is a means to build and maintain a country’s strategic advantage with the purpose of economic growth. It is the process of figuring out a nation’s economic identity and how it will be communicated to the trading nations of the world. As a consequence of globalization, all countries must compete with each other for attention, respect and trust of investors, tourists, consumers, donors, immigrants, media, and the governments of other nations; a powerful and positive nation brand provides a crucial competitive advantage.
It is essential for countries to understand how the people around the world see them; how their achievements and failures, their assets and their liabilities, their people and their products are reflected in their brand image. The nation brand is the sum of people’s perceptions of a country across areas of national competence. The way we brand our nation, Pakistan, is our story. The story that inspires the world to connect with us.
Pakistan’s rich heritage comes from the Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world and dating back at least 5,000 years. It offers a strategic location in Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, between India on the East, Iran & Afghanistan on the West and China in the North. With a population of 199,085,847 (July 2015 est.) standing 7th in the world, Pakistan has diverse cultures and languages. Pakistan is one of the largest producers of natural commodities, and its labor market is the 10th largest in the world. The 7 million strong Pakistani Diaspora contributed an estimated $20 billion to the economy in 2016-17.
Pakistan is blessed with diverse geographic strengths including 14 of the world’s highest peaks, one of the largest deserts, vast fertile plains, largest man-made irrigation system in the world, good quality infrastructure including deep-sea ports, motorways, robust housing sector; in industry and agriculture, it produces high quality products in textiles, leather, sports goods, and one of the top producers of important crops like wheat, cotton, rice, sugarcane, exotic fruits like mangoes, citrus and much more. Its arts and culture is historically rich. Pakistan takes pride in leading the world in certain sports fields. Its people are creative, hardworking and one of the most philanthropic nations in the world.
Despite this and more, Pakistan suffers from negative international image and media coverage, which focuses on an “inherited” unstable political system, leadership crises, an internal and external law & order situation, lack of adequate protection for land & property, and high levels of corruption.
To tackle all these problems holistically and en masse, Pakistan’s true narrative needs to be conceptualized, developed and projected. Therefore, an authentic nation branding strategy is required to be evolved for a variety of reasons, including but not restricted to the following:
- Promoting competitiveness of Pakistan’s goods and services
- Inviting serious and fresh investment in Pakistan’s liberal investment regime
- Enhancing the appreciation of environmental impact on national attractiveness
- Improving the image and change the perception of Pakistan and its products internally and externally
- Promoting soft capital strengths such as sports, music, culture and cuisine
- Branding the unique competencies of towns, cities and places
- Creating ownership of the country’s brand equity assets by stakeholders
- Enhancing commonality and uniformity in country messages among various agencies, government, media and other stakeholders
- Enhancing the level of awareness on the many strengths of Pakistani products and services amongst its clients
Scope of Work:
Concept development, digital narrative and effective implementation
Key to the launch event of brand Pakistan is an effective nation branding initiative which will ensure that all stakeholders from both the government (Commerce, Textiles, Industries, Tourism, Investment, etc.) and the private sectors (exporters, industrialists, traders, entrepreneurs, agriculturists, successful SME’s etc.) are partners in this campaign.
It should also be noted that it is a slow and continuous process and needs to be sustained once adopted nationally for it to grow and give returns. This must be reflected in the “Brand Pakistan” concept that shall be developed as component 1 once phase 1 of the project is launched.
Phases: Building Brand Pakistan-Period of performance
- Phase 1: Three to four months-Launch of Brand Pakistan at Expo Pakistan 2017.
- Phase 2: Roll out the campaign of implementation of Brand Pakistan; this phase of the project Brand Pakistan will last for a longer period of time (to be defined at the end of Phase 1).
Key components of concept development:
Due to the recent global economic crises, there has been a lack of focus on two of Pakistan’s key strengths, regional access to largest markets in the world and connectivity; close proximity to China, and India – two global trading giants as well as members of BRICS and secondly population which has a significant percentage of youth making up a formidable workforce; these two strengths will require continual upgrading. “Growth” will be the buzzword behind Brand Pakistan – economic, touristic, business, and investment.
Pakistan has a strong national identity and thus key to build upon its unique placement; in order to take it from where it is today i.e. sandwiched between two trade giants, to a hub of connectivity, its conception can be managed and leveraged. Besides having vibrant trading neighborhoods, there is the access to a new mega port as well the old established one; Karachi and Gwadar. Acquiring brand value will require repositioning Pakistan as a business and manufacturing hub as a first step particularly in view of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Research and development of concept note
Engage key stakeholders to identify clear objectives of branding Pakistan. This will help in understanding expectations of everyone and invite them to contribute transparently to the cause beyond personal biases and affiliations.
Based on key focus areas, the brand needs and proposition will be identified. The campaign activities will broadly be divided into 2 main areas:
- International Portfolio
- Domestic Portfolio
The international portfolio shall involve activities such as engaging international thought journalists, leaders, opinion makers, development of an effective web portal, e-marketing, targeted advertising to influence support towards Brand Pakistan and other similar initiatives.
Meanwhile the domestic portfolio shall focus on ensuring that Pakistanis live up to the brand promise that is being communicated and promoted to the global community. It is ensuring that the message is cascaded and translated into action at every level of interaction that the country has with the international community, thereby keeping the USP intact. Public relations, brand ambassadors and mass media advertising will primarily be used to create hype and sustain the momentum for the positive propaganda of the National Branding Campaign.
The brand proposition will help identify the uniqueness that Pakistan offers and form the foundation to build, vision, character, and tone. It will require, among others:
- Careful crafting of brand character and its vision.
- Identification of Pakistan’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
- Designing of multiple ‘position statements’ to communicate the USP identified
- Selecting the tone and manner to best convey the position statement shortlisted
- International campaigns aimed at changing perceptions in the international arena
- Niche media advertising to influential people
- Public relations – Thought leaders and journalists
- Support material
- Surveys and documentaries
- Web portal
Monitoring, review, evaluation and revision
Consistently review and monitor the progress and brand promise through:
- National Perceptions Surveys
- International Brand Audit
An impact assessment is important to monitor its progress and track growth. Such an impact assessment shall focus on both, the international portfolio as well as the domestic portfolio. For this purpose, we would suggest:
National perception audit: This measure the important attributes of the brand and how well Pakistanis are delivering on those
International brand equity study: This helps to compare how Pakistan is performing relative to other countries in terms of the strength of its National Brand.
September 15, 2017
Export Development Fund Ministry of Commerce,
Room No. 424, 4th floor , A Block, Pak Secretariat
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