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The task of branding Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 8 – A comprehensive marketing strategy dubbed ‘Brand Kenya’ is due to be unveiled later this month almost a year since President Mwai Kibaki appointed a team and formed a State Corporation.

The Brand Kenya Board, comprising nine members as well as Permanent Secretaries for Finance, Information and Tourism was formed in March last year to develop the national identity and image and instil confidence and national pride in Kenyans.

“The President signed a legal notice establishing the board in recognition that we need to work on a strong image that can withstand (events like last year’s post election violence,” Brand Kenya Board Chief Executive Officer Mary Kimonye says.

Mrs Kimonye says they have developed a strategy that will guide them as they seek to create a strong and positive image for Kenya as well as foster international confidence in the country.

Citing Kenya’s rich heritage, hospitable people, values as well as heroes and heroines, she says the country has a lot going for it and this can be exploited to bring out the best in the country.

“The ultimate goal is to make everybody more positive. It becomes very easy to market a country in which the citizens are proud of,” she relays adding that they will focus on changing Kenyans’ attitudes towards themselves and their country.

They will do this by, for example, promoting the adoption of the values portrayed in the National Anthem.

“We even work with the school system to ensure that this is in the curriculum so that children are told that they need to start living dignified lives,” she says.

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The Board will also seek to promote the country’s diversity such as the different cultures as its strength.

“We are 43 tribes in Kenya and each one of those with a beautiful traditional dress. I would not like to see us lose any of those dresses.  We need to celebrate this diversity,” she enthuses.

Mrs Kimonye says the Board will work in consultation with all stakeholders including government agencies, media and the private sector to ensure a national brand that will go a long way in helping the country achieve its long term development goals.

The CEO cautions that it will just be but a pipe dream to achieve the objectives envisaged in the Millennium Development Goals and the Vision 2030 until all Kenyans agree to support the Board’s course in a ‘positive and committed manner.’

To promote the country’s image in the international arena, Mrs Kimonye says the Board plans to work with other government agencies to improve the country competitiveness and attractiveness as both a top investment and tourist destination.

She says for these dreams to be realised, the Board will act as a catalyst or a coordinating body for such organizations as the Kenya Investment Authority, the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya Tourist Board that will be involved in the process.

“All these bodies are sub-brands in this process as we seek to have an integrated country brand. They will continue to do what they have always done as they are the experts in their fields,” explains Mrs Kimonye.

She reveals that they will come up with a national tag line or brand essence that will define how the country will want to position itself in the world.

And to put the message across, she says they will have an interactive website where Kenyans can contribute ideas on how best to position Kenya.

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“South Africa has ‘It is Possible’. India’s tag line is ‘Incredible India’. What will ours be? She poses adding that the line should be short, sharp and powerful.

She says once they have identified the defining characteristics and values they will roll out a comprehensive marketing and communication program in the local and international media. Although the process will be an expensive venture, Mrs Kimonye says the benefits will be worth it.

She reckons that their role to change the way Kenyans view their country  and to raise the positive index in the domestic and international front, will not be an easy ride and calls on all Kenyans to be patient.


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