Is Brand Kenya Board up to the task?

Posted on January 4, 2011

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After Kenya went to the polls in December 2007 and woke up to the New Year caught up in violence over the disputed results of the elections, the image of the country went to the dogs.

Local and international media carried gory images of countrymen butchering each other as crop fields and homesteads went up in flames. The view and perspective in which the world viewed the largest economy in East Africa changed in a matter of days.

The aftermath of this violence was a country divided, with hatred and ethnic innuendos filling any available space. With a political peace deal signed by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga on February 28, the task of reconstructing the national fabric became a duty.

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga after signing a coalition deal that ended the two month political and ethinic post election violence

It was this that saw the creation of Brand Kenya Board as State Corporation established in March 2008. The establishment of the Board its website reads’

Underpins the Government commitment to put in place an integrated coordinating mechanism for building and enhancing the country’s image, national identity and managing its international reputation as well for rallying citizens together for greater social harmony and cohesiveness”

But is Brand Kenya up to this task?

Three years after its establishment, nothing solid at least from Bizextras point of view has come out of the board. With an annual budget of Sh190 million, which is still inadequate, the board’s most recent activity was to engage Interbrand Sampson East Africa to develop a brand master plan for Kenya.

According to information available to Bizextras, the master plan will develop a brand strategy to positively position the country and its key sectors such as agriculture, the quality of goods and services and the attractiveness of its culture.

The strategy will also address priority areas such as tourism and investment opportunities and economic and foreign policies, among others. Interbrand Sampson will develop the project in partnership with marketing research firm Synovate.

Up its sleeves is also a 2009-2012 strategic plan that it expects will herald it into unrivalled position as the country’s number one selling agency. Currently, the Kenya Tourist Board has been on the limelight as the premier marketing agency for destination Kenya. The Kenya Investment Authority is too charged with the selling the country as a preferred investment decision.

The board notes that country branding as a concept that has been adopted by many countries to build a globally recognized and accepted images based on their core competencies and values. These are mainly in sectors such as investment, tourism, culture, national heritage, sports, trade and commerce, and diplomacy.

Brand Kenya Board staff pose for a photo at the launch of the board's Strategic Plan 2009-2012.

The board needs to answer several questions to justify its being.

Has the board scratched the slightest of the surface in positioning Kenya as a global brand? This is a question that remains unanswered both in the past activities of the board and those it has planned for the future.

Is there more it can do to prove its worth? Are there Kenyans that can be incorporated in the board to give it the spin it much requires? Has it brought on board vibrant private sector companies that in their own rights have given Kenya a better design and name among international brands?

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