Thought leaders and industry experts who recently gathered at the national branding conference organised by brandzone, advocated for the need to take ownership of and promote more positive narratives around our nation’s brand. Nume Ekeghe reports
Brandzone Consulting in collaboration with the Centre for Values in Leadership held the inaugural National Branding Conference 2017 recently in Lagos. This edition of the Brand Innovation Conference with the theme â€œBranding: A Catalyst for Development and Growth was flagged off as the first ever National Branding Conference in Nigeria designed with the objective of creating a strong and positive Brand Narrative for the nation.
The conference which was broadly inclusive recorded attendees incuding prominent Nigerians from diverse background that cut across the public sector, private sector, corporations, enterprise owners, visionary Board Directors and policymakers from diverse sectors. The conference had a rich line up of speakers and resource persons that include some of the nationâ€™s most accomplished thought leaders, subject matter experts, business trailblazers, policy makers, catalysts, entrepreneurs and investors.
In her welcome address, the Managing Partner, Brandzone Consulting LLC and the Convener, National Branding Conference, Chizor Malize, stated that the Conference was birthed out of a burning desire to stir the nation towards adopting a deliberate approach in promoting a positive national narrative. She noted that the National Branding Conference 2017, the first of its kind in Nigeria, brings to the fore the need to be deliberate and be strategic about building a strong, positive, unified public narrative for our nation that citizens can own and be proud of.
Malize said: â€œThis yearâ€™s National Branding Conference comes in recognition of the need to take ownership of and promote more positive narratives around our Nationâ€™s brand. It is a strategic response to the need to consistently convey an appropriate and progressive public narrative that ensures our diversity, strengths and attributes as a nation are projected positively and consistently around the world.â€
Speaking further Malize noted: â€œWe must be systematic about building a strong national brand by seeking to promote the commonalities that unify us. We must evolve and embrace a uniformity of message as a nation, that projects our strengths, diversity and capabilities positively. We must play our role as great citizens in our various capacities. As a people we must imbibe a positive mind-set, develop and be driven by positive value systems, we must consistently demonstrate love for nation through our words and actions, we must be intentional about selling to the world our brand story and not allow the world tell our stories as they find suitable. We need to collectively rise to the challenge and take ownership of our storyâ€ she enthused.
In his welcome address, Founder and Chief Executive Officer Centre for Values in Leadership and Co-Convener, National Branding Conference 2017, Professor Pat Utomi urged participants to take interest in the matters around the nation and the national branding. â€œEvery citizen of Nigeria must take keen interest in and participate actively in the national branding process by projecting a positive image of the nation in ways that attract tourism, foreign capital, and other investments that lead to growth and development of the economy. We must consistently promote the external image of the nation and also the internal image to ourselves. Just the same way that businesses attempt to influence their customersâ€™ perceptions of their brands through strategic brand positioning, we as a nation must attempt to influence the perception of both the internal and external stakeholders of this great nationâ€ He remarked
Need for patriotism
In her address, the Conference Chairperson and Keynote Speaker, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, enjoined participants and Nigerians as a whole to embrace love for the nation and demonstrate passion and commitment to building a Nigerian brand of high value and equity. According to Awosika, â€œOur Citizens must play active role in promoting the nations brand through our positive actions. Like products, countries should be deliberate and strategic about cultivating a strong and positive image because how they are perceived by both the citizens, the visitors and the world at large can have impact on both the economy of the nation and the people on that nation. Visionary countries are transforming the way that people perceive them. They are deliberate about becoming points of destination for tourism, business hubs and foreign investments points. Nigeria is not an exception; as a nation we must purposefully work towards attracting economic value to our nation through nation branding.â€
Knowledge exchange opportunities
The highlight of the conference was the extensive knowledge exchange by the various speakers through the different plenary sessions and the highly interactive engagement by the delegates.
Speakers at the first conference plenary session titled â€˜Beyond the age of Oil: Finding Growth Opportunities in Diversificationâ€™ were the Former Minister of Solid Mineral/ Education and Co-Founder, Transparency International, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, former Governor, Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, Dr Andrew S. Nevin, FS Advisory Leader and Chief Economist PwC West Africa, Mr. Akin Rotimi, Senior Special Assistant to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, representing Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
Moderating the plenary was the Executive Director, Sterling Bank Plc, Abubakar Suleiman. The panel evaluated the potential in the diversification of the nationâ€™s economy across other key sectors beyond oil such as mining, agriculture, travel and tourism etc. It evaluated the impediments to growth and evaluated the key success factors inherent in the sectors as well as the opportunities in building positive national brand narrative leveraging the milestones achieved across the sectors.
The second plenary titled From Local to Global: Harnessing growth opportunities through brand export had thought leaders and subject matter experts cutting across the public sector, corporations and brand strategists who shared insights on the opportunities in creating positive national engagements abroad through brands exported out of Nigeria. This plenary was led by Malize.
Co-Founder of AACE Foods, Ndidi Nwuneli led the discussion on the third plenary titled: Breaking New Grounds: SMEs as Economic Growth Engine. She provided insight on the challenges faced by SME in the Nigerian Environment, the growth opportunities and key steps for maximising SME growth. The plenary explored the contribution of the SMEs to national growth and development through job creation, brand export and economic progression. Other speakers on the plenary include Tara Fela-Durotoye, Founder & CEO House of Tara, Seyi Abolaji, Co-Founder, Wilsonâ€™s Juice Company, Toyosi Kolawole, CEO, AUDEO Clothing Line, Mike Oye, Head, SME Funds, Bank of Industry. The moderator for the SME focused plenary was Laoye Jaiyeola, Managing Director, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG).
The fourth plenary session focused on the Entertainment, Media and Arts sector. The plenary topic was The Business of Entertainment: Maximising Opportunities in Entertainment, Media, Fashion and Lifestyle. The plenary examined these sub-sectors as key opportunity area for economic growth, brand export and positive public and national narrative.
The speakers on this plenary include Obi Asika, Atunyota Akpobome (Alibaba) and Henry Bassey, Chief Marketing Officer Sterling Bank Plc, The Plenary Session was led by Femi Osinubi, Partner & Head, ICT and Entertainment Group, PwC West Africa and the plenary was moderated by Biola Alabi, Founder/Managing Director, Biola Alabi Media.
Speaking on the conference, Chief Executive Officer 141 Worldwide Agency and Member, Brand Innovation Conference Advisory Board, Lampe Omoleye said: â€œThe National Branding Conference 2017 exceeded expectations. The speakers line up was broad and made up of individuals of good pedigree, strong track record and repute. The profile of attendees was rich and the audience engagement and participation was very high with a broad based participation from diverse background which cut across professionals from the public sector, the private sector, visionary business owners, bankers, communications experts, small and medium entrepreneurs, young professionals and media experts. It was a very enriching eventâ€ he remarked
Regarding his experience as a participant at the conference, the MD/CEO of Culture Communications Limited, Yomi Benson noted: â€œThe National Branding Conference organisers did a phenomenal job of lining up such a thought-provoking and relevant agenda for this yearâ€™s conference. The National Brand is a very relevant subject matter for our nation right now. The speakers did a great job in evaluating the issues at stake and highlighting opportunities for our nationâ€™s branding. The delegates were robust in terms of the diversity of their background making for a very interesting engagement. In all it was a very stimulating and inspiring experienceâ€.
In her closing remark Malize thanked all who were instrumental to the recorded success of the conference. She recapped the learning from the full day conference and expressed gratitude to all stakeholders who made valuable support to the successful execution of the conference including the media.
Participants at the Conference were full of commendation for the knowledge filled sessions and the interactive and networking platform the conference provided.