The dynamic Farhad Karamally tells Synergyzer the insights of branding a nation in his natural and simple style.
Synergyzer: Let’s begin with the most important question. What, in your opinion, are the mechanics for branding any country?
Farhad Karamally: Cool! Like any product, service or organization, a country too needs to be looked at as a commercial product that needs to make itself attractive on the ‘global shelf space’, offering itself distinctly as a brand. At the end of the day, a brand is merely a PROMISE that a customer or beneficiary expects.
First and foremost, a country needs to commit behind one brand identity. To discover what it is, my advice is to do a competitive analysis, and identify the unique selling proposition of the country as compared to others. Once you know what it is that makes a country special and distinct from the others, you have an identity that needs to be promoted.
When a nation wants to get into this exercise of branding, all its public & private sectors and the whole infrastructure including the economic machinery needs to get aligned and work hand-in-hand for the promotional exercise to be carried out. Government, policies have to be in place to drive the nation in one charted out direction. The private sector needs to be incentivized to contribute to the brand building whilst the public sector must be developed to live up to the promise being promoted. This is internal brand building.
Synergyzer: How can internal branding campaigns bring a change in any country?
Farhad: Internal branding can be a first step to get people to start thinking in a particular direction. For instance, when the war ended in Sri Lanka, they led an internal movement called Mother Sri Lanka through which the message was sent out that this is any Sri Lankan’s mother nation. This was a brilliant internal branding strategy to bring the nation as one. Again, you need to be unified internally before moving towards communicating to the world.
We need to understand that no country is perfect and there are issues in every country. Yet, the intent that this is ‘MY COUNTRY’ should be over and above personal biases and personal motives. A country is made of its people. There are policies drafted, an agenda is pulled together and then implemented. The whole mechanism, including politicians, ministries and the media, should work together for it. Public departments should be trained to reflect cohesiveness with the system.
Synergyzer: How can we brand Pakistan internationally?
Farhad: This is a tough question and many readers may find my response disturbing and something they would disagree with. But anyways…
Lets do a current analysis first and see how it is being perceived currently and whether that perception needs changing. Pakistan, for example, gets a lot of negative publicity from international media, as well as a number of films that project it as a hub of radicalism, illegal arms and militant training. Hypocrisy is another trait that we get attributed with due to the kind of liberties we take for ourselves, while brandishing other nations and religions for similar notions. Hence, as a nation we have to educate ourselves on how we are supposed to act as the limelight is continuously upon us.
Having said the above, we can still work on rebranding. There is no point in defending the above accusations. Actions always speak louder than words. It is time Pakistanis change their collective actions by first focusing on their internal branding and then showing the world what Pakistan really is as a brand.
The first step is to do a competitive analysis and understand our unique proposition. Now, I have not done this for Pakistan in particular but perhaps, as many would say, our youth is our biggest strength. Then lets promote the fact that we have a high number of entrepreneurs and a population that comprises majorly of youth. We can use these to our advantage to brand the country in the international arena as a hub for entrepreneurs. In the input to output ratio, Pakistan is in the top three most innovative country. This is special. Why not promote ‘Jugaad’ as a positive trait that is driven by talent and operational excellence!
Synergyzer: How would you compare the human capital in Pakistan versus internationally?
Farhad: We can’t compare the human capital of any country with another. Every culture has its norms and practices which craft a nation with different outlooks and people behave accordingly, therefore, it’s unfair to say one person has more talent than other. In a nutshell, God has created us; He did not create boundaries or religious differences. We are just developed differently.
Synergyzer: How can Pakistanis who are living and studying abroad promote their country?
Farhad: Pakistanis living abroad should focus on consistency, especially for their work. I am not going into detail but consistency is a big challenge. Additionally, the Pakistani community staying abroad must focus on building bridges through networking. As opposed to hanging and socializing with ‘our own’ people, we must show through our actions the potential Pakistanis have. If you don’t interact with the world how will they know the difference? There are times when people are amazed to see a Pakistani consultant and trainer. Once a client, of Pakistani origin said, “Oh you have things like these even in Pakistan?”
Synergyzer: What measures should we take to project ourselves as a nation of promises?
Farhad: As individuals, work on exploring ourselves and our strengths. For instance, if you are a writer or a graphic designer, research and see the kind of work being done – the internet is an excellent resource for that. Establish your benchmarks, come up with your own world class work and circulate it through social media. It will have a chance of getting viral and will eventually get noticed. Also, if you do not get appreciated at first; keep trying. Try and get exposed to different cultures, learn about them and make sure to network with foreigners in the process.
Have a winning attitude versus a whining attitude. The society is pluralistic and we are not a closed system. We have to learn to compete and find our way through the system; connecting and learning in the process.
Synergyzer: Can you give an example where you feel the suggestion you made could be validated?
Farhad: Interesting. Perhaps Dubai is the most appropriate example. Way back in the 80s, one of the greatest promises that Dubai offered was shopping. People used to travel from Pakistan and India to do shopping there. At that time they launched the Dubai Shopping Festival. This brand identity attracted people and allowed them to diversify significantly. DSF today is one of the many attractions and interestingly their goals and branding targets are very different for the next few years. Again it is critical to note how the key stakeholders of the UAE economy supported it while it created opportunities for different sectors like retail, leisure, hospitality, aviation, real estate & infrastructural development etc.
Synergyzer: Finally, who is Farhad Karamally?
Farhad: An OD Consultant by profession and a habitual entrepreneur who thrives in challenging the status quo and using simplicity to innovate.
I am CEO & Director Navitus Pvt Ltd. (Pakistan & Sri Lanka), Director Stimulus Pvt Ltd., Director The Bottom Line Holidays Sri Lanka, Partner Tangerine Media, Partner FK Squared Publishing and more recently, Partner SEED Incubation Centre. I have worked in various cultures including Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka with clientele that includes leading development and corporate sector organizations.