County Branding is a critical component of Kenya’s branding. It accelerates the level of growth of both County and National brands, for us to know where we’re going as global leaders., it’s important to understand and be gratified of our heritage. In a world of global trade, investment and our buzzing tourism, the “value” associated with a place is largely dependent on perceptions. People choose to travel or invest in a place based on their own perceptions of the place. A cohesive nature with extensive opportunities and amazing natural brand asset.
The Board has put in place a tailor made program to harness the uniqueness of counties to become regional centres of excellence. The County Governments must therefore ensure that they position themselves attractively for tourism, trade and investment inflows.
A brand borders on a promise that is delivered. A brand can be a product, a service or a concept that is publicly distinguished from other products, services, or concepts. This is exactly what all our 47 counties are; brands with distinct strengths, resources and attributes that needs to be effectively communicated to give them corporate identity.
Well, the teething period for counties is long gone and Kenya has fully embraced devolved governance system, after 5 years of devolution. Kenya is already on a higher pedestal in matters devolution with a bigger county budget allocation of KES372.7 Billion in the current 2018/2019 financial year, from KES 210 Billion allocated in 2013/2014 financial year, almost 60 percent increase in five years.
This growth in allocation is an indicator that there is potential in counties. This potential can be unlocked further through marketing and branding.
Time has come for counties to rebrand and reposition themselves to attract more strategic partnerships, tourism, trade and investments to aid in development. It is time for counties to demonstrate that they are brands with measurable competitive advantages.
This is brand positioning will help counties create a unique impression in the minds of potential investors to allow them to associate with their county of choice and make them think about something specific and desirable about the county that is distinct from rest.
This is the essence of branding; using county strengths, peculiarities and unique locations to create and design different angles in the minds of target stakeholders. This unique positioning is what will help position counties to the world and present opportunities relevant to them.
As the country’s branding agency mandated to market Kenya locally and globally, Brand Kenya Board has developed guidelines to assist counties develop strong brands. This is with the belief that a significant component in building a strong nation brand starts with improving geographical hubs (in counties) to make them centers of commerce and industry, which is why it is critical that counties distinguish their county brands and ensure that their image remains valid, authentic, distinct and appealing to stimulate and support economic growth.
The Board recently launched a County Branding Index (CBI) for counties that seeks to determine the strength of counties to position themselves as hubs for investments, trade and tourism. The process of developing the branding index involved an assessment of each county’s performance in 47 indicators and 115 sub-indicators spread across various sectors.
The sectors are grouped into three pillars namely economic, political and social pillar. The economic pillar includes analyzing sectors like energy, agriculture, transport /infrastructure, tourism and trade and investment while the social pillar involves sectors like healthcare, education, water and sanitation, environmental conservation, housing, sports and cultural activities.
Political pillars include security, county branding, service delivery and communication.
Strengthened County brands mean strategic alignments towards achieving our national development goals. The Big Four Agenda unveiled by the president and which all Government institutions are currently aligning to, seeks to ensure that all Kenyans live in dignity; have a chance to be engaged in rewarding enterprises; can afford highest standards of nutrition; and can access affordable and high quality healthcare for their families.
County Branding is a journey that will increase prosperity for our counties and ultimately strengthen our nation brand. For us to have a stalwart National brand and also attract mega investments, it should first start at the grassroots level.