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Posted: Friday 5 February, 2016 at 2:49 PM

How our National Brand impacts GDP

By: Adam Anderson, OPEN Interactive, Inc.

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – IMAGINE a man and woman from New Mexico stepping off the cruise ship in SKN—just one of several Caribbean ‘stops’ they may make during their vacation.  Are there Tropical containers alongside the dock?  What is the taxi service like?  As they walk through Port Zante, are they enchanted?  


    Now, imagine this same couple strolling into Basseterre city square—is our famous clock nicely maintained and painted for their ‘selfie’?  Upon encountering Independence Square, do they see a fountain with water?  Are the grounds upon which they walk nicely maintained?


    Branding experts map the experience a customer has with a brand because they know that consumers form brand impressions—some good, some bad.  But the overall experience is what matters.  Magical experiences create memories.  


    Great memories of SKN result in decisions to revisit, invest in our Citizenship by Investment program or, perhaps to retire into a small business on the islands.  Will their experience be strong and positive enough to bring a return—bring value—to our Federation?


    Now, multiply this experience by 6,000 daily visitors (a good day).  What story, what culture, what experience are we providing before, during, and after a visit?  These are the questions a branding expert would ask—questions coming from a science that can eventually double or triple GDP derived from tourism in SKN alone.


    Consider that tourism only represents approximately 7% of our total GDP, CBI another 25-37%, and light manufacturing another 7%—what experiences are we providing to support these National Brand positions? What is our national story before, during, and after a customer’s experience in these areas?


    The truth is actually an ‘ugly,’ yet simple one.  A nation’s brand rises, sustains, then falls.  Think of sugar; this consumed our nation, resulted in profits (exported profits for another’s gain), then sugar died as fast as it arrived.


    Now, consider our nation’s financial product to international markets.  At one time, privacy and protection attracted millions of dollars globally.  Again, this ‘brand’ position’s time has come and gone, just as fast with FATCA and a climate of ever-increasing banking regulations and restrictions.  As this brand position all but vanishes, what financial ‘brand position’ are we replacing it with?


    Remember, all brand positions have a direct corollary to national revenue (GDP).


    The Nation Branding point here?  There is an opportunity to breathe life and revenue into our Federation through the art and science of Nation Branding.  It begins with an assessment of our economic drivers to determine if each is rising, sustaining, or falling.


    With respect to energy, what can be done to brand St. Kitts and Nevis as a fully ‘renewable island’?  What would this result in? New manufacturing jobs?  Employment opportunity for our youth?  The attraction of foreign investment in wind, geo-thermal, hydro-election, or solar technologies?


    A comprehensive Nation Branding plan, informed from brand, marketing, and PR experts would help inform our government and our Nation Building plans, as well as how and where to allocate our finite national resources to achieve the greatest outcomes.


    The call to action here?  A comprehensive Nation Branding document that provides a clear blueprint for our elected leaders to follow and build supporting policy around.


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