MAP InsightsColumn in BUSINESSWORLD
The need for a Philippine country brand and a National Branding Council to establish the samewritten by Management Association of the Philippines - July 11, 2023
(This Management Association of the Philippines Statement has been submitted to the Office of the President.)
The Philippines is a beautiful and diverse country that offers a wide range of attractions and opportunities for both domestic and international visitors. We have a rich history, a vibrant culture, and a talented workforce, all of which can be leveraged to create a strong and compelling country brand.
Despite the country’s many strengths and advantages, it still faces significant challenges in terms of attracting investments, promoting tourism, and building a positive image abroad. In order to address these challenges and capitalize on its many strengths, we need to work together and establish a comprehensive country branding strategy. A National Branding Council can champion this effort.
The Potential to Attain Key Benefits Through Country Branding
1. Economic Advantages: A strong country brand can attract foreign investments, boost tourism, and increase exports. This can help generate jobs and income for the country.
2. Improved international relations: A positive country brand can help improve relations with other countries, which can lead to more opportunities for collaboration and cooperation.
3. Cultural exchange: A strong country brand can create interest in a country’s culture, which can lead to more opportunities for cultural exchange and sharing.
4. Increased national pride: A strong country brand can create a sense of pride and unity among citizens, which can lead to greater social cohesion.
5. Political benefits: A positive country brand can help a country gain influence on the global stage, as it can help build trust and credibility with other nations.
THE IMPERATIVE FOR A NATIONAL BRANDING COUNCIL
A National Branding Council (NBC) can play a crucial role in developing and implementing a comprehensive country branding strategy for the Philippines. The NBC can serve as the central coordinating body that brings together various stakeholders, including government agencies, private sector companies, and civil society organizations, to develop a unified branding approach for the country.
The NBC can also provide strategic guidance and support for branding initiatives, including the development of a national brand identity, brand messaging, and marketing campaigns. Additionally, it can monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of branding initiatives to ensure that they are aligned with the country’s overall development goals.
1. Create a Unified and Consistent Brand Identity: Currently, various government agencies, private organizations, and individuals engage in branding activities without a centralized and coordinated effort. This lack of coordination results in a fragmented and confusing brand identity that does not effectively communicate the country’s unique value proposition. An NBC can help create a unified and consistent brand identity for the Philippines. It can serve as the central coordinating body that will oversee and ensure the consistency of branding efforts across all sectors and levels.
2. Increase Trade, Foreign Investments and Tourism Market: Branding is a powerful tool that can influence people’s perception and behavior. A well-crafted brand can create positive associations and emotions that can attract tourists and investors. The NBC can work closely with the Department of Tourism (DoT) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to develop and implement branding strategies that will differentiate Philippines from the rest, and be one of the top preferred destinations for tourism and investments.
3. Promote the Country’s Culture and Heritage: The Philippines has a rich and diverse culture that can be leveraged to create a unique and compelling country brand. A country’s culture and heritage promise an experience that can best be felt on its shores. The NBC can work with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and other cultural organizations to showcase the country’s rich and vibrant culture and heritage through branding initiatives. A strong country brand can effectively communicate our country’s story to the world.
4. Develop National Pride: A strong national brand can also help foster a sense of pride and unity among the country’s citizens, leading to increased social cohesion and stability.
5. Enhance the Country’s Global Reputation: A positive brand image can create a sense of pride and loyalty among Filipinos and can also influence how the country is perceived by the international community. The NBC can work with international organizations and media to promote a positive image of the Philippines and counter negative stereotypes and misconceptions. This can enhance the Philippines’ global reputation.
6. Crisis and Reputational Risk Management: A strong national brand can help a country weather crises and negative events, by providing a positive narrative and reputation to fall back on.
COMPOSITION OF THE NBC
The NBC should be multi-sectoral, with members coming from government, private sector, civil society, academia, media, branding and marketing experts, and international experts. The Council will work together and in collaboration, develop a comprehensive brand strategy that reflects the country’s identity, values, aspirations, and with the interests of all stakeholders considered.
1. Government representatives: Government officials, including those from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), DoT, DTI, Department of Education (DepEd) and NCCA, that can provide insights on national policies, strategies, and initiatives that impact the country’s brand image.
2. Private sector representatives: Business leaders, entrepreneurs, and industry associations can offer perspectives on the country’s economic strengths, trade relations, and investment opportunities.
3. Civil society representatives: Civil society organizations, including non-profits, NGOs, and community groups, can provide inputs on social issues, cultural heritage, indigenous communities matters, and environmental concerns.
4. Academics and researchers: Academics and researchers can contribute to the NBC by providing data, analysis, and insights into the country’s historical, social, and cultural aspects.
5. Media representatives: Members of the media, including journalists, broadcasters, and bloggers, can offer perspectives on how the country is perceived and covered in local and international media.
6. Branding and marketing experts: Branding and marketing professionals can provide guidance on developing a strong and effective brand strategy that resonates with the country’s target audience.
7. International experts: International experts, including those from international organizations, can offer insights into how the country is perceived globally and what steps can be taken to enhance its image.
THE ROLE OF THE NBC
In pursuit of its objectives, the NBC will be responsible in carrying out these key initiatives that include:
1. Research: Conducting research to understand the Philippines’ unique strengths, values, and identity.
2. Brand development: Developing a brand strategy that reflects the Philippines’ unique identity and strengths, and creating a visual identity and messaging that will resonate with target audiences.
3. Promotion: Implementing a promotion strategy that will help raise awareness of the Philippines’ brand and communicate its key messages to target audiences, including potential investors, tourists, and other stakeholders.
4. Management: Ensuring that the brand remains consistent and relevant over time and responding to changes in the global economy and other external factors as needed.
A CALL TO ACTION
It is apparent that country branding is essential to the Philippines’ campaign for recognition and competitiveness in the global arena. No less than the President articulated its key importance when he addressed the people in his 2022 State of the Nation Address (SONA):
“To foster the Filipino brand is to spark our sense of pride and reaffirm our strong sense of identity. It is time to welcome the rest of the world with an enhanced Filipino brand that is unique, attractive, and creative.”
Our enhanced global competitiveness can help promote economic growth and development through a positive image and reputation that a strong country brand can enable. The NBC can play a crucial role in developing and implementing a comprehensive and unified branding strategy for the Philippines, an output with the buy-in of the various stakeholders brought together for this purpose.
Therefore, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) urges the government to establish this NBC to steer and champion the unified effort in the direction of crafting a country brand that can ensure that the Philippines remains competitive and attractive to tourists, investors, and other key stakeholders.
The MAP is a prestigious organization composed of top-level executives and business leaders from various industries in the country. We see the urgent need to present a Philippines that is cohesive and unified in every undertaking, and this will be strongly projected by our country brand. Our membership and the objectives we pursue provide substance to our recommendation:
First, the MAP has a deep understanding of the business environment in the Philippines. Its members are well-versed in the economic, social, and political conditions of the country, as well as the challenges and opportunities faced by various sectors. This knowledge is critical to actively spearhead the initiative to develop a country branding strategy that is aligned with the needs and goals of the business community and by extension, drive economic growth and development.
Second, the MAP has a strong network of business and industry leaders in the Philippines and abroad. This network can be leveraged to gain support and buy-in for the establishment of an NBC and the development of a country branding strategy. The MAP can also tap into its network to gather insights, best practices, and resources from other countries that have successfully implemented country branding strategies.
Third, the MAP has a track record of advocating for policies and initiatives that promote the country’s economic growth and development. This includes supporting programs that enhance competitiveness, attract investments, and create jobs. By recommending the establishment of an NBC and the development of a country branding strategy, the MAP can continue its advocacy work and contribute to the country’s long-term economic success.
Finally, the MAP has always maintained a harmonious working relationship with government agencies and stakeholders to drive change and progress in the country. As a respected and influential organization, it can serve as a bridge between the private sector and government, bringing together stakeholders to develop a country branding strategy that is inclusive and collaborative.
The MAP hereby presents and submits this urgent recommendation for the creation of the NBC that will place under one body all the country branding efforts with the objective of crafting and presenting a Philippines’ Country Brand that will link and integrate all marketing, promotion and positioning in the global market.
In reciprocity, the MAP will actively participate in this NBC and harness the expertise, experience and network of its members in support of the NBC’s objectives.