Nigeria has recently embarked on a rebranding effort to improve their image worldwide. Global perceptions are important in attracting the kinds of things an emerging economy needs to improve the living standards and opportunities of its people: tourism, trade, foreign direct investment and foreign financial assistance, or even to meet the UN recommended Millennium Development goals. In the words of President Yar Adua, “we must readily put in place a positive perception of Nigeria.” It has been interesting to watch the dialogue in the AllAfrica.com news. In a recent article Nigeria: Re-Branding - Country May Be Worse If Credibility Gap is Created the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN) president Aimiuwu warned that things may get worse rather than better if Nigeria doesn’t do the rebranding effort right, noting that credibility is important, if “a product is not authentic and credible then our acceptability by other comity of nations will be difficult.” He also pointed out that corruption by Nigeria ’s leaders presented a serious challenge in the selling of Nigeria as a brand. Corruption is always a challenge to crediblity and transparency.
Whether it’s corruption, quality of workforce, infrastructure, tourist venues, or social stability and safety, credibility is key. Nigeria faces two big challenges: 1) brands are held in the brains of the tourists and investors, not the promoters, and 2) emerging social technologies have established new standards and expectations around the globe for authenticity and transparency.
Nigeria (and any nation) needs a new approach in the current environment. A new slogan, catchy song, and opulent video footage won’t do the trick in an age where regular people can talk to regular people without official intervention or institutional intermediaries. I know, easy for me to say, but Nigeria needs to identify the areas that are most detrimental to their goals and establish specific intervention strategies. The intervention strategies must address both the substance of the problem (i.e. improve something) and then the perception in the market. Holistic rebranding efforts sound fine, but the economic manifestation of positive perceptions often hinges on a short list of perceptions. No one can change everything, so it’s good to change the things that matter most.