Word reaches me from reliable sources that “Endless possibilities” the Nation Brand tagline chosen for Malaysia and scheduled for an official launch on 17th September will not now be used.
The tagline was panned from the outset, primarily because it was used by Mongolia and Israel. Trying to communicate a Nation brand promise in a few words or sentence, which is essentially what a tagline does, is becoming more and more complicated, not least because most of the best superlatives have already been used up but also because we live our lives very differently today and we’re not easily convinced by contrived messages anymore.
What most destinations fail to understand is that a tagline is not the first step in developing a Nation brand. Because what this creative driven approach aims to do is create a slogan, build an advertising campaign around that slogan, cross your fingers and hope that target markets will see it, buy into it and act and it will then become a brand. But this approach ignores what are the foundations for any destination brand strategy – stakeholder buy-in.
Unfortunately, because such a slogan is often created by an advertising agency there will be beautifully produced print and TV ads that woo key officials who immediately believe what they see in the slogan and of course buy into it themselves.
As we can see with “Endless Possibilities” this model does not work. So what should be Malaysia’s next move? The first thing is to establish a Branding Malaysia panel or task force. This panel should not be lead by someone with a creative background because this is not a creative exercise.
This panel will be tasked with carrying out extensive internal and external research to identify what Malaysia has to offer to what I hope are already identified target markets and sectors. Subjectivity and a grip on reality are required to make this stage work. I know it’s not sexy and requires a lot of boots on the ground but this phase is critical to the long term success of the project. Once research data is compiled and analysed, a blueprint to present the nation to the relevant audiences and not to the whole world will be created.
This blueprint will lay out the implementation process and feature clear timelines and responsibilities, communications strategies and channels, influencer relationship development, budgets, targets and possibly and only if necessary, a tagline.
This is a brief overview of how to build the Malaysia Nation Brand. A mistake has been made, never mind, let’s get it right the second time.