Brand Namibia ‘still in the closet’
Whether taken into consideration or not, Namibia is an international brand and, as such, would be better advised to move on a definite course rather than allowing this brand to follow changing world opinion.
This was the topic under discussion yesterday at Team Namibia’s 2012 Annual General Meeting at a time when the body aims to rejuvenate itself and become more visible.
“Namibia has huge opportunities, but the perceptions around the country are still very generalised, stereotyped and clichéd,” suggested Gordon Cook, a branding expert and National Brand Navigator for South African brand leadership school Vega.
All good brands, he said, promise the future, and where investors fail to see a prosperous future they’ll simply go elsewhere.
“We live in a competitive world, so it has to be a competitive identity,” Cook said.
In Namibia’s case, this brand identity will have to be one that addresses job creation, especially among the youth, getting big corporations to shift their focus from profits and appeasing shareholders towards making positive contributions to social and environmental issues, and flipping the country’s current import culture (described as picking the low-hanging fruits) towards much stronger and internationally oriented production and manufacturing sectors.
In this regard, he said government as caretaker and biggest market, needs to ensure that adequate infrastructure and support is available for “anyone sticking up his hand and saying they want to develop”.
Also present during the AGM was Prime Minister Nahas Angula, who, reacting to criticism from local manufacturers (including bottled water, roofing and tiling companies) that government should do more to buy locally rather than import, suggested a dialogue between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and local companies about the development of a checklist of quality Namibian products that could be accessed.
“We have unemployment, we have to grow our GDP; so it makes sense that government procurement should be tweaked to grow local production. But that’s a conversation that must start,” Angula said.
Team Namibia Chairman and Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) CEO Tara Shaanika pointed out in this regard that the country’s new procurement bill has recently been passed to the private sector for input, and should, once enacted, lead to greater progress.