By Lincoln DePradine
People worldwide love Jamaica but the Caribbean nation isn’t using the global goodwill in as many ways as it could, says Simon Anholt, the British-born author, who has been studying and researching the images of countries for more than 20 years.
Jamaica is in the “major league of national images,” Anholt said in delivering an address in the latest online “Outride: COVID-19 Business Threat Seminar” series hosted by Magate Wildhorse Ltd.
His topic : “Doing Good, Doing Well: The Secret of National Image’’.
During his presentation, Anholt referenced several countries – including Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Japan and Germany – in demonstrating the importance of “nation brand’’. It’s a term he coined in the 1990s that has morphed into ‘’nation branding’’, Anholt said.
“Everything is influenced by your image,’’ he added.
Anholt, who is soon to publish a book titled “The Good Country Equation,’’ noted that “ if a country has a powerful and positive image, it seems as if everything is easy and everything is relatively cheap for that country. A country with a good, powerful, popular appeal – a strong profile – has relatively little difficulty drawing in talent, drawing in tourists and investors; adding value to its products, its exports, its services, and achieving positive and productive diplomatic and cultural relationships with other countries.
“A country with a good reputation sits happily in the international community and achieves benefits from the relationships it enjoys with that community.
“If a country is unlucky enough to have a weak – or even a negative – image, by contrast, everything is difficult and everything is expensive. If you’re an unknown country or a country with a poor image, you constantly have to be justifying who you are; you constantly having to be spending more money on promoting your goods and your services and trying to get people to pay attention to you.
“Not having a good, powerful reputation, really is a serious drawback to your engagement with the international community.’’
According to Anholt, “nobody knows where a good image comes from’’, nor is there any agreement on what branding really means.
However, he shared information garnered from a survey, the “Nations Brand Index’’, which he conducts annually among 20,000 people in 50 countries worldwide. The poll measures people’s perception of the strength of the image of countries.
“I have never seen any correlation at all between the amount of money that countries spend promoting themselves and the power of their image. It seems to make no difference at all,’’ he said.
“You can spend all the money you want; you can shout as loud as you like, it doesn’t make anybody change their mind about your country.’’
According to Anholt, “people like countries that are good.
“What it means, in terms of the research, is that people seem to have the most positive feeling towards countries that they believe contribute something to the international community; that do something outside their own borders,’’ he explained. “They’re not just doing a good job of looking after their own people, but they’re actually doing something for the community of human beings and for the planet we all share.’’
Anholt said his research indicates that Trinidad and Tobago has the largest proportion of citizens – more than 50 per cent – “who would want their country to be more internationally minded’’.
An independent policy advisor, Anholt has worked with various governments and international agencies such as the United Nations.
One of his UN assignments in Jamaica was with the World Intellectual Property Organization.
“I visited Jamaica on a number of occasions and did some really fascinating workshops there,’’ Anholt said.
“I’ve been there and I love it.’’
He said Jamaica “is undoubtedly one of the moist powerful examples of a developing country with a developed country brand.
” This is a fairly unusual combination because the majority of countries that have very powerful and positive images also, as it happens, have very powerful economies and a great deal of conventional power.’’
He suggested that Jamaica can further enhance its brand by focusing on developing more products and services “that are truly Jamaican’’, and selling them “beyond the Jamaican and Caribbean Diaspora’’.
“There are ways of responding to the love that the world feels towards Jamaica, with products and services that could be bringing in enormous amounts of foreign income for Jamaica; and, obviously, the secondary benefit of doing that would be that it would help widen Jamaica’s economic base away from tourism, which has always been risky for Jamaica,’’ Anholt said.
Meegan Scott, principal consultant of Magate Wildhorse Ltd., said coming out of the seminar series, she’s considering producing an “Outride: COVID 19 E-Book and Video Space’’, which also will serve as a COVID-19 memorabilia.