Let’s tell positive narratives to boost brand Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo/Courtesy

By Wausi Walya, PR and Communications Manager, Kenya Tourism Board.

Over time, patriotism has been equated to the love of one’s country mainly demonstrated in different ways including—and not limited to—donning national flag colours, singing the national anthem and endorsement of one’s country when an opportunity arises.

While this may suffice for purposes of identifying with one’s own country, it is clear globalisation has provided many opportunities that allow people to be global citizens. Yet the original identity of such people can still play a great role in positive story telling for their countries.

Living in one country for purposes of work and belonging to another by virtue of origin may split one’s own loyalty to the respective countries. There are, for instance, Kenyans  in  the diaspora who get caught  up in mixed identities.

However, such Kenyans can boost the country’s tourism earnings through destination branding. This can be done through positive story-telling which greatly influences the destination that travellers choose.

A destination with endorsement of positive attributes is likely to interest more people visitors. This endorsement may be directly from those who have visited the destination, or those who have the said destination on their bucket list.

What role, therefore, can citizens play in positive storytelling to enhance the image of the country’s brand?  With a 47 million population, over 70 per cent of whom are rated as literates , it would make a powerful impact if a good percentage of these people penned an attribute about the country at least once a week.

Kenya is not short of positive narratives that would interest tourists and investors. We are an athletics powerhouse, with an over 400km stretch of pristine beaches. We are an innovation leader through products such as M-Pesa and our coffee, tea and other agricultural products score highly in the global market.

For visitors to believe in Kenya, we must ourselves project the positive attributes that we are proud of. Kenya is endowed with, six-star tourism experiences spread across the country that inspire great movies such as the Lion King.

The eight wonder of the world at the Mara; rich diversity in culture; adventure in mountain climbing and biking in parks; an opportunity for breakfast with giraffes; a swim with dolphins and so much more form part of the magic of Kenya’s heritage.

For the positive narratives stories to reach the rest of the world, we must take it upon ourselves to tell the stories ourselves and increase the equity of our country brand.

Many destination brands rely heavily on the positive halo effect that their brands lend to them to influence consumer choice. Effective storytelling has gained recognition as a major tool that connects the brand with its consumers and enhances a destination’s brand positioning.

A well-positioned brand reaps from many fronts, including economically, socially, environmentally and general positioning in the global scene. Kenya has the potential to be the top destination in Africa for both visitors and investors. Compelling storytelling must become part of our DNA.  We must not allow stereotypes to overtake the positives that we ought to share with the world.

Next time you express thoughts about your country, commit to the positives, it could be the peace we enjoy, the all-year-round good weather, the beautiful sunsets, the SGR rides, access to fresh farm produce, great golf courses, a game park in the city, the tasty nyama choma  and much more.

We must leverage on opportunities and the dynamism that storytelling creates to build and protect our country brand. It is not enough to don that bracelet with Kenyan colours! We can tell these positive stories right from home or from the  diaspora.

Eliud Kipchoge’s feat in the Ineos 1.59 challenge in Vienna accorded us a great opportunity to tell our positive stories. Let us complement these efforts with our stories. In the long run, we will attract more investment, tourists, new market opportunities and in result, an improved economy.

The article was first published on People Daily Newspaper on 5th November 2019

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