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Rebranding Nigeria’s Cities

There is still a conceptual gap in understanding the principles and practices of place branding among many state and local government officials in Nigeria. Despite efforts at the center to promote this new concept, which branding professionals have described as one of the fastest-growing areas of knowledge in global branding and marketing, place branding seems to be largely associated only with the various activities in which branding and marketing are involved. . the federal government aims to improve Nigeria’s image in the international community and make it a good destination for tourism and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Since the Nigerian government launched the Nigerian Image Project, later renamed the Heart of Africa Project, in 2004, little has been done by local and state governments to develop strategies to attract foreign investors and tourists. different cities, villages and states. This overwhelming notion that place branding is at the center corresponds to a defeatist and flawed logic, as, according to Tom Traynor and Ro Breehl, “every place has something different, a reason to live there, work there, vacation there, rather than another place” . They also argue that establishing a “genuine, persuasive claim of distinction” can be a difficult task, for which many tourism boards, city councils, and business development districts are not prepared, “instead they turn to (inevitably grim) advertising enforcement.” This is the line of least resistance

appears to have been towed by state and local government officials in Nigeria.

There are many advantages for states and municipalities that consciously strive to market their regions to both internal and external stakeholders. If these states and local governments can implement sound fiscal policies and invest in infrastructure, it will be easier to sell their seats. The starting point would be to develop a branding framework and strategy that encompasses their distinctive cultural, tourism, human capital, economic, educational and personality assets. The second stage is the implementation of the strategy by the appointed marketing communication specialists, in close cooperation with the information and strategy commissioners; the local governments could do the same if they appointed qualified supervisory councilors to head the information and communication units of the local governments.

Recognizing the strategic importance of brand asset management, state governors and local government presidents could create small committees led by marketing communication specialists to coordinate their various place branding efforts. Appointing non-professionals to such positions for purely political reasons is actually counterproductive and can undermine their prospects of reaping the benefits of economic development that strategic branding can attract.

Donald Duke, the saxophonist governor of Cross River State, is setting a good example for other states and local governments in Nigeria. Ever since he became the governor of the state, he has consciously pursued a policy of avoiding controversy. This has helped to keep his reputation intact as no media report or the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of Nigeria has named him as one of the corrupt governors. This is quite encouraging, as the same cannot be said of his colleagues.

Governor Duke has admirers across age groups and genders, not only because of his boyish good looks, social savvy, and tailored fashion sense, but also because he is one of the few governors who actually implemented programs that directly affected the lives of his people. . He went one step further with his Tinapa project (Africa’s number one business resort); a project that would put his state and Nigeria on the world tourism map when completed. The state government has also created well designed and maintained websites – http://www.tinapa.com and [http://www.crossriverstate.com] which serve as windows to the world. Calabar and Cross River brands continued to improve as strong Nigerian brands during Governor Duke’s tenure in Government House.

Many states and local governments in Nigeria should really take advantage of emerging technologies like the internet and incorporate them as a governance tool, many countries do not yet have functional websites and some do not have professional sites to improve their generality. brand image.

Another state that impressed me recently is Kwara State. Kudos to the state governor, Bukola Saraki, who succeeded in luring the sacked Zimbabwean farmers to the state and stuck by them despite his government being criticized for the move. Some of the criticism was quite unfair and seemed ill-informed, as the critics apparently ignored the potential economic benefits for the state and its citizens. The Kwara State government has recently pulled off another PR coup that would help further develop the image of the state; He successfully used the ThisDay music festival to invite star attraction Jay-Z to Kwara State to commission some government projects. During his visit to the state, Jay-Z was honored by the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, who also named a road after him – Shawn “Jay – Z” Carter Road.

It is indeed a positive thing for the state that Jay-Z is dressed in native aso oke attire and riding the traditional horse during his turbaning ceremony. Such images broadcast worldwide are indeed invaluable and can help further develop the Kwara state brand. However, for this PR coup to actually impact the state’s economy, the Kwara State government must complement its efforts with good governance.

Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, has also done well in this regard and seems to be enjoying a new lease of life. The conscious efforts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and his team to sanitize the city are paying off. Although some of these efforts have come at a heavy price, such as homelessness in the city for residents of houses demolished during various demolition exercises. However, residents appreciate the changing face of Abuja and the various recreational parks that are now available for use. The FCT minister embarked on policies to change the image of the city, which sometimes seemed controversial. The banning of Okada (commercial motorcycles), the introduction of London taxis and the vigorous pursuit and implementation of Abuja’s master plan led to the demolition of illegal structures in and around the city, reclaiming areas that have now been redeveloped. into parks for the pleasure of city residents and visitors. Nigeria’s capital has also consolidated its efforts to rebuild its image through music, art, tourism and business. The annual Abuja Carnival modeled after the Rio de Janerio Carnival, Abuja Rocks @ 30 (an entertainment package to celebrate the city’s 30 years of existence and reinforce the sense of Nigerian unity) and the planned Abuja Tower are some of the efforts aimed at repositioning Abuja. a good destination, such efforts would also help further develop the Abuja brand.

States like Anambra State have a lot to do to improve their brand image which was negatively tarnished by indigenous politicians like Chris Ubah and Emeka Offor before him. The current governor, Mr. Peter Obi, with his background and experience in the private sector, appears to be the right man for the job, but his slow start has continued to draw criticism from the indigenes of Anambra State, whose patience is now running thin. With all the material and human resources that abound in the state, including the extra advantage of being home to some famous Nigerians like Rt. Hon Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chinua Achebe, Phillip Emeagwali, Arthur Ekwensi, Prof. Charles Soludo, Emeka Anyaoku, Prof. (Mrs.) Oby Ezekwesili etc.

Anambra state really needs to be more than it is now. It is a matter of concern that the state government does not seem to be fully aligned with the current perceptions and concepts of branding. The only reported effort to rebrand Anambra State was to change the state slogan to Anambra – Home of All – Anambra – Home of All Good People. The state can certainly do better. Among the problems with the Anambra brand is the general perception that its citizens are primarily interested in commercial pursuits against intellectual engagements, the state continues to suffer from the huge burdens of the political class, most recently the state legislators initiated the process. The impeachment of Mr. Péter Obi, fueling further instability, riots and demonstrations in the state. It is time for Anambra State, a potential economic and regional tiger, to wake up and start realizing its true potential for the benefit of the indigenes. Historic sites like Ogbunike Cave, Agulu Lake, Igwe Osita Agwuna Obu Ofor Nri Palace, Ochanja Main Market etc. should be actively positioned as business and tourism attractions. With the growing interest in Igbo culture and history, organized and guided tours to the cities of the Nri Kingdom (the recognized cradle of Igbo civilization and the ancient home of Ndigbo) can also help expand the Anambra brand globally. The latter approach is favored by Chikodi Anunobi, author of Nri Warriors of Peace. According to him, “The history of Nri dynasty sums up the history of Ndigbo, so anyone who wants to know more about Ndigbo and their history better visit Nri towns”.

The governments of Lagos, Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states have repeatedly failed to exploit the rich natural resources that abound in their states and have not fully exploited the huge presence of foreign nationals involved in the oil and gas industry in their states. , these expatriates can easily serve as unofficial goodwill ambassadors for these states in their home countries and help them attract more FDI in other sectors. Despite these states earning huge revenue as oil producing states and despite the blessings of mother nature which has richly endowed them with oceans, rivers, fertile farmlands and petroleum, infrastructural development has not been on the agenda of the respective governments which complicates the situation. to leverage their natural brand to successfully showcase their cities and states as Nigeria’s favorite tourism and business destinations.

The ongoing unrest in the Niger Delta region and kidnappings by organizations such as MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta People) have also further tarnished the brand image of the affected states. If President Obasanjo’s various economic reforms begin to pay off and a true atmosphere of competition emerges in Nigeria’s socio-economic landscape, these states may be left out of the scramble to create an investment climate as potential investors and human capital. you can only choose cities and states that have positively positioned their brands and effectively communicated place brand tools.

It is in the interest of the Federal Government of Nigeria to actively involve states and local governments in the new drive to rebrand Nigeria, state and local government officials should be encouraged to set up standing committees or designate liaison positions. with officials from the Nigerian Ministry of Information and National Orientation (the ministry overseeing the Heart of Africa project) to share ideas and adopt models of good practice. The recently concluded 2-day Nigerian National Conference on Branding and Economic Development tagged Mind the Gap 2006 was a good opportunity to engage states and local governments, but it remains to be seen whether they have been invited.

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