To differentiate itself from other countries on the continent vying for the attention of Africa-focused foreign direct investment, South Africa would do well do adopt a “nation brand” approach that emphasises its uniquely positive attributes and distanced it from negative associations, such as crime and racism.
“South Africa must advance beyond the dominant images that it has been associated with and create a nation brand that defines what it is about and what it can deliver,” Interbrand Sampson De Villiers senior strategist Guido van Garderen told delegates at the Frontier Advisory Africa Risk and Investment Forum on Wednesday.
According to the dutch national, a “nation brand” was a “living asset” which, if properly managed, enhanced identification, created differentiation and grew value, promising the "delivery of an experience".
“From a business perspective, a successful ‘nation brand’ would provide security of future earnings,” he said.
Of the various components of the country’s economy, Van Garderen argued that South Africa should select one industry or offering it wanted to emphasise and base its national brand on advancing the business strategy of this sector.
“Most countries are associated with their tourism, exports, values, business climate and investment. South Africa should focus on one of these elements and communicate it, as the 55 countries in Africa present a lot of competition,” he asserted.
He further held that the country was currently “spreading itself too thin” and had not yet decided if it wanted to position itself as an enclave for the potential investor or as a tourism destination.
Citing a national example, Van Garderen said Dubai had done well to promote its “nation brand” in recent years, punting an image associated with wealth, opulence and opportunity.
He cautioned, however, that South Africa should ensure that it delivered on the promises offered by its brand offering.
“[The country] first needs to do, and then say – not the other way around,” he maintained.
According to Van Garderen, Africa as a whole was currently seen as a “B-brand” continent, owing to the overemphasis of the potential risks it presented.