Bangladesh is not known well enough outside and it deserves better.
This was the tone of the discussants at a seminar on branding Bangladesh as they said the country has good ingredients for a strong brand, but lacks initiatives both from the public and private sectors for brightening its image.
They demanded formation of a brand cell headed by a minister and urged all to work together to promote the Bangladesh brand.
American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) and Eastern Bank co-organised the seminar at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel yesterday.
Aftab ul Islam, president of AmCham, chaired the seminar attended by brand experts, academicians, bankers and diplomats. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness about the country branding.
James F Moriarty, US ambassador in Bangladesh, said the country has achieved steady economic growth in the last two decades, reduced poverty sharply, improved in education and health indicators and increased farm productivity.
The country is producing world-class garments being sold at many renowned stores across the globe, he said.
“Despite all this, the images of Bangladesh that appear on CNN or BBC are all too often images of natural disasters, poverty and suffering,” Moriarty said.
This lead to the ’64 million dollar question’: how does Bangladesh establish and sustain a positive brand image? he said.
Moriarty said two resources — the Bangladesh diaspora in the US and the business community, both at home and abroad — can help achieve this goal.
“I firmly believe the Bangladesh diaspora in the United States is an underutilised resource that can play a special role in developing and promoting the Bangladesh brand,” he said.
The members of the diaspora have already developed personal connections to many Americans across the country, he said. There are similar diaspora communities in Britain and Australia.
But there must be strategies, he said.
“Bangladesh needs to be strategic in developing its brand. It should consider linking up its diaspora outreach programmes to create a truly global brand,” he said.
Like the diaspora, the US Ambassador said the business community has the capacity to make or break ‘Brand Bangladesh’.
The country has a lot of successes — from health to microfinance and women empowerment — that can be promoted, said Dr Khalid Hasan, managing director of Nielsen Bangladesh, a leading marketing and media information company.
Mobile and television penetration has witnessed an unparalleled growth for the past few years, he said, adding that resilient economic and export growth and a single-digit inflation rate are also the good side of Bangladesh.
“Bangladesh, managing natural calamities, is a model for others,” Khalid Hasan said.
He said an exclusive tourist zone could be set up for full entertainments.
Khalid Hasan, also a vice president of AmCham, however, cautioned about the realities, saying that a deteriorating law and order situation, corruption, infrastructure bottlenecks, poor governance and failure to protect culture and heritage could cost the efforts to brand Bangladesh.
Aly Zaker, managing director of Asiatic Marketing Communications and a renowned actor, termed Bangladesh a multi-faith religious country, not a moderate Muslim one.
“Public-private partnership with multinational intervention can improve Bangladesh brand,” he said.
Prof Syed Frahat Anwar of Institute of Business Administration of Dhaka University criticised the local media for showcasing the country negatively.
Quoting a survey report, he said 93 percent young people are tired of seeing negative news in the media. He asked the media to highlight local products.
But the speakers said branding the country is not an easy task. It is very competitive and requires huge amount of resources to polish the image.
Noor Ali, chairman of Eastern Bank, also spoke.
The article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.
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