Hilsa can be a brand like salmon and tuna!
Tourists, business leaders, would-be immigrants and consumers make their decisions everyday to travel, invest or live in a country of their choice. They are influenced by the brand value of the country. The brand value denotes its name, fame and other people's confidence in it. All the nations have their own policies to brand their respective countries or places.
The National Brand Index (NBI) 2014-15 of the international research firm Anholt-GfK revealed that only 22 countries out of 75 met the criteria to qualify as 'country brands.' They include Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Norway, the United States, Australia, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Finland, Singapore, Iceland, the Netherlands, France, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea. The remaining countries have weaker than average perceptions about both status and experience dimensions, although some are stronger than others. For example, Russia and Taiwan sit at the threshold of the country brands in terms of perception strength, whereas Nigeria, Ukraine and Bangladesh have the weakest perceptions. Bangladesh ranked 72th out of the 75 countries and Pakistan was 73rd and India got the 50th position.
A number of terms are used for branding a country. They include country-of-origin, country image, product image, country equity, made-in country image, origin country image, etc. The 'country of origin' had a new meaning in the last decade as part of a broader evolution since the beginning of the 20th century. It means applying corporate branding techniques to countries.
Another kind of brand marketing is "investment branding." Countries promote their infrastructure, favourable tax structures or other incentives in an effort to attract foreign investment. Some countries also promote their financial markets in an effort to increase their standing as a business hub. India recently launched the "Make in India" campaign, a branding programme, to attract overseas investors. Other countries focus on different areas. Tourism promotion has traditionally dominated nation-branding efforts in developing countries. Some of those campaigns are the 'Amazing Thailand' and the 'Truly Asia', a successful Malaysian tourism branding.
The success of nation-branding projects depends on a number of factors but most basically on the quality of the product the country is trying to sell. Some of the products identity make a country stand out because of the brand value. The famous automotive brands like Mercedes in Germany, Ford in the United States and Citroën in France are remarkable. These corporate branding techniques make those countries stand out. Similarly, experts in the industry refer to "place branding" and "city branding."
The words 'Made' and 'In' convey important information about a product and a brand, and this can influence consumer preference. 'Made' refers to the manufacturing aspect of a product. Switzerland is good for banking and watches. Switzerland's natural resources are limited, the country's high-value export industries also have remained competitive by drawing on long-held associations with quality, efficiency and style. Japan is good for cars and electronic goods and Costa Rica is good for coffee and beaches. Singapore is a destination of investment from all the global companies. The multinational companies at least maintain an office in Singapore. It is ranked the number one by the World Bank for the ease of doing business in the world. It is the number two in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitive Index.
Companies of a nation can help brighten the country's brand image. Microsoft and McDonald's are among the moast visible US diplomats, just as Nokia is Finland's envoy to the world. 'Made In' therefore conveys information and associations that are both tangible and intangible, rational and emotional.
Some of the success stories are encouraging for others. The success stories relate to those including post-Yugoslav countries like Slovenia and Croatia, which launched aggressive marketing campaigns following their respective secessions, emphasising scenic venues and a definitive cultural break from Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital. These campaigns proved wildly successful and both countries emerged relatively quickly as tourist destinations. Tony Blair's "Cool Britannia" campaign was little more than a mercifully short-lived piece of media and marketing hype aimed at promoting the UK to the world. Different people were invited to 10 Downing Street to be photographed shaking hands with the Prime Minister.
Agricultural products are natural. The positive association with agricultural products has little, if any, to do with the overall level of development of a country. Of the developing countries, Brazil has one of the most advanced agricultural branding programmes with coffee. In addition to the country's promotions for Brazilian coffee, there are also branding programmes for Brazilian beef, fruit, chicken and wine. Brazil exports many of its agricultural products to other developing countries. "Russia is the main buyer of Brazilian pork, Egypt is the main importer of Brazilian fresh beef, the Middle East in general is the biggest market for Brazilian poultry and sugar, Algeria is the main buyer of Brazilian dairy products, China is the biggest importer of Brazilian soy beans, and Iran is the main market for the Brazilian corn."
Executive chairman of Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman has disclosed the findings of a study that revealed the untapped brand potential of Hilsa. It can be a brand like salmon and tuna fishes in the global export market. These two fishes have been promoted as global brands and customers now buy them at high prices.
The study shows that the government's compensation to the fishermen not to catch Hilsa during the period of a ban on its fishing has led to an increase in production. "Total Hilsa catching increased from 199,000 (1.99 lakh) tonnes in the fiscal year 2002-03 to 351,000 tonnes in 2012-13," it says. About the status of fishermen, the study shows about 17 per cent of them are illiterate while 69 per cent completed primary education. About 33 per cent of fishermen are landless while 40 per cent have no boat and 29 per cent no net to catch fish. The Hilsa branding can push up both exports and local prices of the fish to the benefit of fishers and the nation.
The behavioural aspect of handling a nation's image is instrumental to improvement and protection of the brand. Officials from the government, nonprofit organisations and the business world can better collaborate to make sure the messages a country is putting out represent what they view as "the fundamental common purpose" of their country. Many brands of a nation can serve cross-purposes, hence the strategies are also different. The tourism board of a country can say how wonderful the country looks and how welcoming the people are. The investment-promotion agency can say how super modern its infrastructure is and how easily fuel is available and bureaucratic hassles are less. Branding campaigns fail for other reasons as well. Nations have become far more cognizant of the value of their respective brand as an asset. Understanding valuation helps countries better understand the investments they make in their image.
Many corporations and countries are reluctant to sell their products to Bangladesh or Bangladeshi buyers. Bangladesh tries to project itself as a source of cheap labour and tries to attract foreign buyers and investors. But the focus should be on product branding and country branding in order to make the products cheaper and fetch higher sales. An appropriate branding campaign helps improve competitiveness of a nation in exports by linking them to positive preconceptions of the country. Bangladesh can attract other countries to sell their products at competitive prices. Branding a country successfully requires collaboration of many senior leaders-both in government and in the private sector. It really requires a partnership between public and private sectors.