leading Middle East PR strategist says Egypt needs a comprehensive and clearly defined nation branding strategy to fulfil its true potential as an investment destination, regional economic and political powerhouse, and tourism hotspot.
Sunil John, founder and CEO of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, lauded the country’s existing destination brand, “Egypt, Where it All Begins”, but said it was only one part of the overall nation brand.
Delivering his keynote presentation, ‘Nation Branding in Times of Adversity,’ John told delegates at the 2017 Narrative PR Summit held in Cairo that ‘Where It All Begins’ was a superb bit of branding. “It’s clever, sophisticated and, crucial for a destination brand, based on truth.”
“But there is much more to do if Egypt is to capitalise on its many strengths. According to Brand Finance, Egypt’s brand value and ranking has actually slipped over the past year, from 55th to 57th, even as the economy and tourism recover.”
John said that Egypt has cultural, political and diplomatic heft that is not being fully realised, adding that the nation could raise its profile through hosting major events such as the Olympic Games or the Fifa World Cup. “There’s absolutely no reason that Egypt can’t host an Olympics or a World Cup, or a major Expo like Dubai is doing in 2020.”
A successful brand would capitalise on Egypt’s ‘brand truths’, one of which is scale, said John.
“This is the most populous Arab country. And it boasts the third biggest economy in Mena, and the second biggest in Africa. When it comes to branding this nation, Egypt has to think big – really big,” he stressed.
John warned that Egypt’s story is currently being told by others, and that the country needed to take back control of its narrative. The best way to do this would be through a comprehensive nation branding exercise that goes far beyond tourism potential.
He cited work by the nation branding expert Simon Anholt, which breaks down an effective brand into six pillars: investment, exports, governance, investment and immigration, culture and heritage, people, and tourism. While tourism is being successfully tackled, John said, a unified strategy including the other pillars would reap dividends for the country.