Nation branding strategy: a case study of brand Zimbabwe.
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This study focused on nation branding strategy for Zimbabwe. The main objective of the study was to develop strategic insights and knowledge for the development of an effective and sustainable nation brand for Zimbabwe. This study deployed a combination of phenomenological and positivist approaches; hence benefited from methodological and concurrent triangulation. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected concurrently which allowed corroboration and validation of findings. The study adopted a non-probability sampling method, using both purposive and quota sampling techniques to allow for conscious selection of respondents based on competence, perspective, experience, and convenience. The sample comprised respondents involved with Brand Zimbabwe whose opinions and insights influence their behaviour towards Zimbabwe. Respondents came from Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, NGOs, academics, business, government and foreign visitors. Data were collected through questionnaires and interviews. Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) was used to analyse quantitative data while thematic analysis was applied on qualitative data. The study established that there are multiple key actors who should influence nation branding in Zimbabwe. Coordinated involvement among these key actors is crucial. The study also found that nation branding and management was not consciously practiced in Zimbabwe. It was also established that Zimbabwe ranked poorly on the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), largely owing to policy instability, restrictive foreign currency regulations, and poor governance. The study proposed a seven-step process for branding Zimbabwe. Successful implementation of nation branding strategy requires wholesome participation and systematic coordination. Accordingly, a strategic framework for the implementation of Brand Zimbabwe strategy was also proposed. The study recommended the establishment of a formally recognised institution to steer the nation brand construction efforts. Nation brands cannot be strong and competitive if the underlying product is poor. No amount of astute marketing and brand communication can address what are perceived to be inherent and apparent ‘bad country brands. Positive nation brand equity does not just happen; there is need for a concerted effort to manage the development of an attractive nation brand and grow its equity. Key words: nation branding, brand strategy, nation brand equity, nation brand competitiveness, Brand Zimbabwe.