Director General of the Ministry of Trade, Marokon Alilee, has told stakeholders at the start of a Vanuatu Branding Workshop on May 31st that “we have to become irresistible” in order to sell our products.

The DG made the call when he launched the daylong workshop at the Melanesian Hotel, to get feedback from the audience present to develop a country branding proposal for Vanuatu.

The DG said the Vanuatu Government has created the perfect platform to make the most of an overarching country branding initiative.

“Our strategy to promote Vanuatu is dependent on a clear identity and positioning that is differentiated from our competitors,” the DG said.

“We need this to be able to promote our country to:

• Improve our international reputation

• Attract more visitors, who spend more

• Attract new investment

• Engage more effectively with donors and aid agencies

• Encourage importers to buy our products

• Galvanise our community around a shared vision, and

• Build pride in Vanuatu.

“By developing an overarching brand for Vanuatu, we will maximise the impact of our spending and marketing and communication”.

In addition the DG said Vanuatu has a positive reputation within the Pacific region as an excellent destination for tourists and a growing interest in business partnering, investment and a growing opportunity related to export ready products.

But the DG said to maximise the cost effectiveness and impact of the country branding initiative, it would need to encompass trade, investment, tourism and community positioning and expression.

Vanuatu has many unique characteristics that lend themselves to a strong recognisable identity for the country overall.

“The challenge, which is similar to other countries around the world, is that the Vanuatu story is not necessarily well defined for, and understood by, the audiences it needs to engage with,” the DG said.

The DG said the timing is right for an integrated country branding initiative to “enable us to maximise the cost effectiveness of our total marketing spend and ensure the best return on investment for all stakeholders”.

While welcoming the presenters, he said, “We are fortunate today to be able to learn from experiences in other countries and to draw on branding techniques and models that have been successful elsewhere.

David Faulks, from Generation Alliance in Australia, has delivered successful branding programs in the Pacific, Asia, Europe, North America and the Caribbean. He has presented on country branding to a UN conference in Mexico of Trade Promotion Organisations from 70 countries. And his company, Generation Alliance, has also re-branded Pacific Trade and Invest.

“Today, our aim is to agree to an approach that will work best for Vanuatu and to collectively commit to making this happen.”

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