Sri Lanka is currently facing several economic challenges and in order to pull the country out of this predicament, it is imperative that Sri Lanka takes bold steps that will prepare the country for the future. Among them, Nation Branding is an approach that can pay big dividends if done right.
Nation Branding is an exercise where a country aims to build, improve and manage its reputation on the world stage. It offers the country the opportunity to be in a better position to deal with foreign nations and build stronger relationships which in turn would benefit the nation economically through greater investment, more tourism, value and demand. for its products and services, attract talent, creative workforce and increase its influence on the world stage.
As a nation, Sri Lanka needs to focus more on innovation, entrepreneurship and startups where a culture that can support such initiatives is nurtured. Although these areas are widely talked about and several initiatives have already been implemented, there is still room for improvement in terms of coherent national policies or platforms that can take them to the next level. Creating a common platform should also include promoting closer partnerships between Sri Lankan universities, organizations operating in various industries and research agencies. The ongoing ‘Future Ready Sri Lanka’ program which aims to foster entrepreneurship, innovation, skills and knowledge-based industries and society – all of which are essential as we embrace this new normal and we are preparing for economic recovery – is an encouraging sign in terms of a common platform for the good of the nation.
Over the years, some developed and developing countries have taken a collaborative approach to successfully market their country and increase revenue through multiple streams, whether through foreign direct investment, tourism, logistics, manufacturing or any other industry. Sri Lanka has been unable to follow in their footsteps, resulting in limited success on this front as a nation. There is no doubt that Sri Lanka is blessed to be located at the center of the world map as a maritime hub with our ports such as Colombo, Hambanthota and Trincomalee all strategically positioned. Given our strategic maritime location, we are ideally positioned to take advantage of a semi-lockdown assembly operation to transform Sri Lanka into a hub for assembly and re-export. We must encourage global giants to invest in large-scale assembly plants in Sri Lanka where they can utilize our skilled yet cost-effective workforce, thereby making the country a hub that can challenge regional players in this space .
Education has always been one of Sri Lanka’s strengths where our literacy rate has been one of the highest on the continent. However, today’s technology-driven world demands more than just literacy, because what’s more important these days is digital literacy. Today, we learn, live and work in a world where access to information and communication with others is increasingly done through digital devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones that have access to the internet, social media platforms, and different types of software. Therefore, increasing digital literacy is of paramount importance in helping the country compete with its regional rivals. Fortunately, Sri Lanka is experiencing an increase in computer literacy, digital literacy and internet penetration with technologies such as 5G also available on the island. Along with this we also see the mega development projects such as Port City which will undoubtedly elevate Sri Lanka’s infrastructure and bring the country on par with regional cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Together, these attributes will provide the country with the perfect foundation to become a service hotspot and attract global giants to set up operations in the country.
However, to maximize the use of our limited funds and resources in all of these key areas, it is imperative that the relevant organizations in charge of each area collaborate and adopt a national brand approach. This will ensure that as a brand, Sri Lanka will have a much greater impact on the global stage, which will certainly translate into greater long-term revenue and a much-needed boost to the country’s struggling economy. .
This national branding should take a three-pronged approach – export branding, generic national branding and internal national branding. Export branding will help create a positive halo effect on products made in Sri Lanka, through a “country of origin” effect and resulting in increased export capacity and greater recognition and acceptance of Sri Lankan products in the global market. Generic nation branding will enhance the country’s ability to attract tourists, skilled workers and foreign direct investment. This will give us the opportunity to reduce incentives for investors, maintain higher prices and also increase cost pressure on competing nations. As a nation, we will be more resilient to current or future global or regional financial crises. Internal national branding is also an important element as it will help us curb the “brain drain” of the loss of skilled workers to developed countries while increasing overall productivity through improved workforce morale. work of the country.