In recent weeks a few sporting events have occurred which if we were ready to take advantage of would have done wonders to elevate Brand Uganda.
Last week the She Cranes our representatives to the 2015 Netball World Cup returned having exceeded expectations and jumped six places in the global rankings to eighth place.
Over the weekend marathoner Solomon Mutai won bronze in the World Championships to emerge as our latest marathon sensation. Defending champion Stephen Kiprotich did not embarrass, coming in sixth in a strong field.
And finally former Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert was in town on a UNICEF mission and had time to mug for the cameras. He announced that a match between Barcelona legends and the Cranes was in the works for later this year.
"Each of these events in and of themselves raised awareness about Uganda a notch. In a highly connected world the picture of Kluivert and President Yoweri Museveni holding up yellow t-shirt emblazoned with Uganda on its front went out to Kluivert’s 794,000 followers on twitter and who knows how many more people around the world saw the image if just one percent or 7,940 of his fans then retweeted the tweet?...
Marketers of brand Uganda led by Stephen Asiimwe at Uganda Tourist Board and tourism evangelist Amos Wekesa are doing a better job than was happening barely three years ago, but more work needs to be done.
Greater awareness of a brand, in this case Uganda, is less than half the battle fought. Yes, one cannot be a brand without widespread awareness but in addition what cements a brand in the mind is what it is associated with, people’s experience with it when they interact and eventually the loyalty to the brand by its consumers.
Making the point s survey done by international marketing firm FutureBrands polled 75 countries around the world but only 22 countries – mostly in Europe and none from Africa, could be classified as country brands under their classification.
In their Country Brand Index 2015 they said country brands were strong across six dimensions related to status and experience. A country’s quality of life, value system, business potential and good “made in” perceptions singles it out as status country while a country with rich culture, history and tourism attractions would make it a great tourist country.
Of the top of my head we probably have a better chance of being an experience country and some ways to go before we can be considered a country where people abroad would want to live or do business.
Japan, Switzerland and Germany topped the rankings. Uganda was not polled. In Africa, South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe led the continent.
The survey showed that a strong country brand gave the holders a competitive edge, with people wanting to visit, live and do business there, but it also suggested that country brand building cannot be the work of one agency or ministry maybe with one coordinating agency but it’s a collective effort.
"Ugandan officialdom should care about building a brand systematically over time, as it has serious advantages for the economy in attracting tourists and investment. Thankfully these days with the pervasive media it’s easy to get awareness – for the good and the bad things, but there are no short cuts to creating a pleasant experience or being associated with the positive perceptions, meaning we are only just beginning....
We are going to have to do more than shoot selfies with high profile guests to improve our image abroad.