Govt mulls nation-branding initiative | Sunday Observer

Govt mulls nation-branding initiative

The government is planning to launch a major ‘Nation Branding’ project which will have a direct and positive impact on expanding the country’s export, investment and tourism segments. It is the belief of experts that a positive brand strategy would help increase export earnings and attract FDIs as the tourism industry needs refreshing to transform itself into the next level through a new strategy.

It is crucial for Sri Lanka to put together ideas and create programs and initiatives that will showcase the country’s unique assets, positive economic indicators and cultural heritage globally. “Our export earnings and foreign investments have not shown a significant growth over the past decade. Our potential is much greater,” said a senior economist. “As far as the tourism industry is concerned we see growth in numbers and earnings; however, it is high time that we reorganize tourism branding with an integrated strategy, especially to meet the challenges and competition over the next few years,” he said.

A highly placed government official said the government is serious about the ‘Nation Branding’ project and some groundwork is being done at present. A cabinet paper in this connection is underway and the expertise of an Australian professional will be sought to prepare a branding strategy.

Over the last few decades, nation branding has become an important factor for many countries which wanted to expand their economic, trade and tourism capacities globally.

Sri Lanka’s immediate neighbour – India launched a massive branding campaign called – Make in India - which the Indian Officials say helped expand the country’s FDIs and tourism earnings to great extent. Thus, India has become a trendsetter in nation brand campaigns.

Global brand management experts say, “Every state seeking to sustainably improve tourism, international trade and foreign investment, and the possibility of getting international credit, can benefit greatly from a positive national reputation. So the success of a country is very much dependent on the success of its national brand.”

The Business Observer spoke to an international expert on nation branding, David Faulks in Australia, over the phone, on his role and Sri Lanka’s strengths that can be included in the proposed nation branding strategy. Faulks has been to Sri Lanka to talk on branding and marketing potential earlier.

Faulks says that Sri Lanka has very strong ingredients to build a successful nation branding program that will promote not only investment, tourism and exports-but also to promote people, culture, community, education and skills.

“If we are to build a nation-branding concept it should ensure long-term sustainability as well,” he says. “That should drive more jobs, image reputation international support and a stronger economy.”

“Sri Lanka’s natural environment and location, cultural heritage,

differentiated exports and people skills are great strengths,” says Faulks.

Faulks brings a wealth of experience in brand, communications and legacy strategy. An innovator in creating economic and social outcomes through informed brand strategy, he has led high-profile place and corporate branding projects in Australia and around the world.

As a place branding expert and Managing Director of Generation Alliance, Faulks has led projects for cities, local and state governments in Australia as well as nation branding projects in Bangladesh, Botswana, Kenya, Jamaica, St Lucia, New Zealand, The Gambia, Tonga and Zanzibar.

He has also worked on major infrastructure projects, with global corporates such as Virgin Group and is a keen advocate for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Prior to starting his own business, Faulks worked for 14 years in executive roles at the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) where he gained a broad international business perspective and a solid understanding of global trade and development. He ran the whole government program to promote Australia in the context of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Talking about the support needed for a high-profile national program, Faulks says key people from both the public and private sector should rally round the project, if we are to fully benefit. Local talent and energy will help achieve ongoing success.

“A continuous dialogue among institutions and also people is necessary to shed any doubts about the project. Great results depend on strong leadership, an innovative approach and a sense of ownership and shared value from all,” he said.

The countries which have gone through successful branding campaigns in the past have immensely benefitted by way of creating wealth, promoting tourism and being competitive in export markets; and a strong sense of national pride. - CJ