Branding Nigeria: what's our biggest story and what should our tourism tagline be?

I am looking for a marketing tagline to brand Nigeria and would love your suggestions. Also, don't miss our boat cruise and beach getaway in Lagos.

My people,

Today’s story journeys through the Nigeria brand and separates our perception from our reality. I am also on a mission to find the best slogan for Nigerian tourism and I would love your suggestions. We also have an exciting boat cruise and beach getaway on the 31st of October and it is the perfect way to relax and be taken care of. Send a reply to book a slot or two. Finally, I give out 5 copies of the book Personal Branding by Uju Obuekwe, the queen of branding. Just ask, I will give 5 people at will!

Okay, story time!

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When you hear Malaysia, it is often followed by Truly Asia! Kenya has Magical Kenya, Incredible India gives you a glimpse into the magnificence that is India. Football fans all around the world were awed by the Visit Rwanda slogan on Arsenal jerseys last year. Currently, the slogan for Nigeria changes with each new leadership (currently Tour Nigeria) and is often not as robust at the potentials for tourism we have in the country. If I were to create a slogan for Nigeria, I will call it #ThisisNigeria or #OnlyNigeria! I’ll explain!

If you want to know how the world truly perceives your country, ask your taxi driver or breakfast chef in another country: they have no need to patronize you. The general perception of Nigeria in Africa is that she is that lottery winner in the family who hasn’t cashed the check but goes out of her way to look rich. Our presence in the media conveniently perpetuates the image of Nigeria as rich, boisterous, big and perhaps reckless. This image also comes with some negatives which is why some people think of us as the scam capital of the world when in fact, we are nowhere close. I explained Nigerian Scams in this creative #showmeonething animated video and revealed that the vast majority of these scams are perpetuated by Americans, Russians and the Chinese.

So, why are Nigerians so welcoming of a false and incomplete narrative? The short answer is that we have not developed an intentional strategy to own our own story. If other people control our narrative and we do nothing intentional, we will have to take what is given to us.

So, what is the potential of the Nigerian brand and how can we bring this to life? Let’s take some lessons from Ghana; our closest cultural kinfolk on the continent.

  1. Lesson 1 - We need a strategic plan to develop tourism…from the top!

    Ghana’s Year of Return in 2019 is a good example of how to intentionally brand a country. It was one full year dedicated to encouraging Diasporans to go to Africa. It also marked 400 years since the first enslaved Africans landed in the US. The year culminated in December with celebrity events. Serious tourism development requires a plan from the top in partnership with efforts by private entities. The target audience was clear - Diasporans connecting with their roots and this target audience was, well, targeted. The plan was so well disseminated that every taxi driver in Accra and Kumasi knew about the Year of Return. On the other hand, Nigeria's Dirty December is entirely citizen-driven and could be a great starting point for the ‘top’ to hop on to what already exists. Cultural and entertainment tourism is Nigeria’s lowest hanging fruit and this is the lever on which a coordinated effort should be built.

  2. Lesson 2 - Improve the wheel, don’t re-invent it!

    Nigeria is the top of mind PRODUCER of Africa's best music, movies and cultural influence but Nigeria is NOT yet the top of mind DESTINATION for Africa's best music events or parties. People will consume our content but not come here to the source of the content. Why? We have to plug the existing gap first before we create new things. Detty December is a low-hanging fruit that can be expanded through the year.

  3. Lesson 3 - Access has to be same or better than established tourist destinations in the region!

    The audience has to feel like they have to come here. Ghana made it easy for anyone who wanted to come in, to come in. By Q4, Ghana had issued almost 50% more visas than it normally would have in that period. As December approached, Ghana switched to visa on arrival for everyone. If you wanted to come, you could come. Think about it like this: when you plan to travel, and you have two equal options, wouldn't you choose the one that requires fewer applications from you? Nigeria has to re-evaluate access by making visas easier for all. All serious tourism contenders have visa-on-arrival for their target audience.

  4. Lesson 4 - Nigeria’s best bet for Detty December is to build a tourism circuit with Ghana!

    The Circuit. We don't have numbers but we know that a lot of people came into Nigeria and then went to Ghana for Afronation, Afrochella, and a bunch of other events that Ghana had on the calendar. Accra and Lagos are 45 minutes apart and the two cities offer a 2-in-1 combo of some sort. As Nigeria builds her brand, the country has to make it easy for those already in the region to 'stop by.' It works. If you cannot convince someone to spend thousands of dollars to come only to you, you can convince them to stop by on their way into or out of Ghana.

Nigeria could feel like an exclusive experience - not in terms of access but because there are no two countries like it. That’s why a descriptor like ‘This is Nigeria’ or ‘Only Nigeria’ makes sense. It evokes the feeling of FOMO and makes the audience feel like they have to come here. It also transcends tourism and will be relevant for Nollywood, oil investors, agricultural entrepreneurs, retirees and students.

Everyone can feel like a part of this, not just travelers. We have the cultural capital to make this place the social/cultural hot spot in the region and we can do it, after-all, this is Nigeria. Once we get through COVID-19, of course.

So tell me, if you could rebrand Nigerian tourism, what programs or industries would you focus on and what would our tagline be?

Let me know. Simply reply this email or leave a comment.

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Love,

Funmi!