MAPping the Future

Column in INQUIRER

The need for Philippine country brand, National Branding Council

written by Ms. ALMA RITA R. JIMENEZ - July 10, 2023

(First of two parts)

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 (NBC) can champion this effort.

The potential benefits of country branding

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.

Improved international relations: A positive country brand can help improve relations with other countries, which can lead to more opportunities for collaboration and cooperation.

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.

Increased national pride: A strong country brand can create a sense of pride and unity among citizens, which can lead to greater social cohesion.

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

The 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.

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.

Boost trade, foreign investments and tourism

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.

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 in 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.

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.

Enhance 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.

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 multisectoral, 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.

Government representatives: Officials, including those from the Department of Foreign Affairs, DOT, DTI, Department of Education and NCCA, can provide insights on national policies, strategies and initiatives that impact the country’s brand image.

Private sector representatives: Business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry associations can offer perspectives on the country’s economic strengths, trade relations and investment opportunities.

Civil society representatives: Civil society organizations, including nonprofits, nongovernment organizations and community groups, can provide inputs on social issues, cultural heritage, indigenous communities matters and environmental concerns.

Academics and researchers: They can contribute to the NBC by providing data, analysis and insights into the country’s historical, social and cultural aspects.

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.

Branding and marketing experts: These professionals can provide guidance on developing a strong and effective brand strategy that resonates with the country’s target audience.

International experts: Global 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.

(To be concluded)