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Neo
22nd September 2012, 07:30 AM
Ghana, formerly known as the Gold Coast, was the first African country to gain political independence from colonial rule in 1957. In April 1992, the nation began to move towards economic stability and democracy, allowing for a multi-party system after some time of unrest.

Ghana is also endowed with rich mineral resource, a relatively good educational system, an efficient civil service and hospitable citizenry.

Fifty-five years after independence these questions still linger unanswered: Why were the colonial leaders here in the first place? Whom did they meet and what did they find? My greatest concern is that Ghanaians recount their history without asking or answering these questions. The redefinition (re-branding) of Ghana lies in the answering of these questions and consideration of our roots till now.
Branding Ghana simply means giving it a presentable face; keeping mute while working hard on her weaknesses which are already known by the world; and highlighting her strengths, potential and the anticipated future image.

Until now, Ghana, like so many other Afrian countries has been seen as a simple and predictable brand. When Ghana is mentioned anywhere in the world, a few things come to mind. To the ignorant, an image of hunger, poverty, and congestion. To the elite, is an image of a country of abundant natural minerals, with corrupt leadership.

I, as an individual who has come in contact with these two different groups of people, and has been confronted time and time again with ridiculous questions about Ghana, I must ask myself, is that all there is to Ghana? The answer is No! So now the question is, what are we doing so wrong and how can we make it right? I also ask what are we doing right in certain regions of the country that we can duplicate in areas that are lacking in our beloved country. The answer lies in the hands of our leadership, our citizens, and depends on how we portray our country.

The following segments of stakeholders may have the solution on how to help Ghana achieve the desired image:

The Government
I would like to commend government for his role in sustaining the political stability of Ghana and the fact that inflation has been maintained single digit for the pass two years. For me this is a good score to entice investment. But in redefining the image of Ghana and providing enabling environment for growth and development government can focus more on strengthening and enhancing existing structures and policies. Though he might not be directly responsible to branding Ghana he can strengthen regulatory bodies to elevate the country’s image for example enhance the turn around time for registering companies, regulating and monitoring activities of lets say businesses like the Savings & Loans companies to avoid recurrence of events where some abscond with people’s money. Again concerning ministries like the Ministry of Tourism; funds can be allocated to District Assembly Members with the assignment to research and discover new tourist sites within their districts.

Secondly Government can organize fun trips for opinion leaders or influential people and the media to tourist areas. This is to get them to use their capacity to sell the country’s worth to the world based on what facts and experience. Government can also engage Corporate Ghana for sponsorship for efficiency and realization efficiency of the project. These and many others when put in place would serve as an empowering tool to the ministry and others as well in selling Ghana.

Commerce

Ghana as a country can never grow and develop without commerce. However, every businessman knows that, it is very important to strategically position the brand of whatever you represent and are selling in other to attract the right people and get the right attention.
The corporate environment, under which branding packaging and marketing would fall, of course has a huge role to play, through delivery of quality and consumer assured products and services. This sector deals head on with investors or visitors as well as the people of Ghana. A job well done goes a long way in branding a country and due to our initiatives in service excellence Ghana is now known not only for hospitality but also for professionalism in the delivery of services and production of quality goods.

The People (Culture & Brand)
Culture is simply defined as the way of life of a group of people which includes religion, festivals, language, leadership, education etc. Culture usually distinguishes a group of people from the others. What culture does for a group of people, a brand does for a product or service, and a brand is what distinguishes one from the other. What comes to mind when some one remarks on "The American dream"? It is a slogan that is unique to a certain group of people, the Americans.

If this is a starting point, then cultural export becomes the backbone of tourism and other brand-building exercises for the country. When we understand branding of the country from this context, half the work is done. This is because building a positive brand for a country must be a collective effort of both the leaders and the led - government and citizens alike. However, government must make a conscious effort to speak, lead and inform the citizens on what makes us
Proud Ghanaians.

“We are the black stars of the world". “We live in a gold coast". “We produce the world's best chocolate". What should Ghanaians boast of and hope for?

We as citizens of this honorable country are responsible for the greater part of positively branding Ghana. The way we honor and upholf our government, culture, values, and appreciation of who we are is a major area to consider. Let us focus on how strong our forefathers stood in determination for freedom from colonial rule and in doing so attained independence. Let’s not only tell the world how capable and competent we are on our own, but show them in deed and action for as they say “actions speak louder than words.”

The Media
Film and TV are incredibly powerful tools in this context. Wonder the fame of and power of America? I implore you to take an internet journey and you will discover how the media used this powerful tool in projecting the potential of the country as well as in China. Today many still believe they have solutions to all problems and challenges. In the same vein, Ghana can adopt and improve on this strategy to pursue an arts, film, media and communications strategy to partner with local and international filmmakers as well as indigenous talent to apply product placement techniques to the country’s values and locations. By doing so we empower the media to portray the rich history, cultural values, natural resources, tourist sights, and the general composition of the people of Ghana. The beauty of this strategy is that it would not only build an all new identity and awareness of the country, but also deliver iconic images and cultural values.

The beauty of a brand doesn't necessarily lie in its simplicity but its sophistication and mystery, not in the answers the brand provides but the questions it raises. The mystery and sophistication is what people buy into and explore. We have been blessed with so many different languages, ethnic groups and different religious bodies. These differences must all add up to build the sophistication that the brand 'Ghana' should evoke whenever mentioned.
Promotion of Local Industries

Imagine a situation where Ghana has branded herself very well by supporting local industries like Osafo Kantaka and others to distribute products that can break borders with a Ghanaian tag on it. We need to encourage public-private partnership where government lays down clear expectations that go beyond royalties and taxes. This can and will only happen if government is holding better bargaining chips rather than what we offer now which is lots of statistics, and clichés such as 'Ghana is the fastest growing economy in the sub Saharan Africa', ‘Ghana is peaceful’ etc, let's offer something more than that.

We have mistakingly crafted a simplistic brand ideal for our country. Ghana has so much to offer and we have failed to accentuate it, which has resulted in generating minimal interest.

Interest is generated by intrigue and questions that people can only find answer to if they visit or invest time and resource into. During the recent launch of the Brand Ghana Awareness Campaign, this past Friday, at the NewMax corporate headquarters, I asked the question, “Why would I want to visit or invest in a country that has no draw?” As a company that has helped so many foreign based companies invest in Ghana, NewMax knows how great a well branded Ghana can help the economy and help SMEs get the international boost they dream of.

A Country like Swedes are considered interesting people, intriguing and worth getting to know; they present a question mark, not an answer. An answer is what you get in most country agencies or in tourism advertising. An answer leaves no room for the audience to roam or opportunity for them to be intrigued. Given that a country’s brand seeks to embody a multitude of ideas about its very identity.
Ghana also has a lot of paradoxes that can be well packaged to help enhance the brand of Ghana. There is for instance a paradox in the oil and gas sector in Ghana in that a majority of the private owned oil and gas companies in Ghana are owned by Ewes. The paradox here which is worth exploring is that the Volta region has no commercial oil reserved at the moment so what drove the interest among these group of people to pursue such investments? There are other intriguing paradoxes in our banking and other sectors that are worth talking about. How come the Kwahu's dominate the pharmaceutical industry of Ghana? What informed them?
The challenge should not be how to advertise a country’s brand or build it, but rather how to export positive cultural values and products to the rest of the world. If this is the starting point, then cultural exports become the backbone of tourism and other brand-building exercises for the country


Successful branding of a country doesn't necessarily mean one has the best flag and melodious national anthem; but it is largely dependent on how much power the state has given to and promoted local industry. When you give too much power to government to brand a country, it fails because it lacks consistency due to the change of hands which means change in ideologies. The best way to promote a country's brand is to promote and identify local industries, products and services with the country. When you think about spaghetti what country comes to mind? Italy. Champagne; France. Audi, VW or Bosch; Germany, the list goes on and on but what about Ghana? It is never late we can at least begin with us being the fastest growing economy in African or the economically and politically stable country.

The benefits of a consistent and professional country branding can be observed in every region- they include the ability to win more investment business because the country image says the right things about taxation, labor skills, safety, the environment, political stability plus the chance to apply a ‘made in Ghana’ label because it will positively aid the sale of a product in an overseas market. The time is due and the hour has come, let’s start now!

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Source: Prince William