City Branding: Turning Zimbabwean Cities Into Sustainable Services

Restaurants may order chickens from the same supplier but the outcomes of the final products are different. The taste, texture, aroma and presentation, all because of the ingredients, methods of preparing, environment, target market,  the brand calibre and the chefs. Ever think why Meikles Hotel chicken is US$20 and Chicken Inn is US$2. The above explains it all, its all because of branding. .

Branding has different dimensions which are tangible and intangible. Branding a country is not just about what the country says it is but what it creates it self to be. Branding equates to development and the best way to Brand Zimbabwe is by the  decentralized method of City Branding.  City branding is basically place branding where the branding is focused as per city or region in order to attain uniquely created selling points, services and products.

This is all done to ensure that there is return on investment on trade, tourism, development, infrastructure development  job creation, visibility, viability, immigration etc. Right now, the talk is investment and being open for business but investment without brand creation is a dead end with a huge cliff, hence most of our cities are falling off the dead end cliff because they are being misled to thinking that what they are doing is enough to take them to the next level.   Why then do most Zimbabweans brag about going to London, Paris, New York, Cape Town or Milan??? Think deeply about what those cities did to get to a point where you brag about experiencing them. . The Question is who is bragging about our cities? ??

In 1958, Harare when it was still Salisbury, it was the 4th most valuable city in Africa. I wonder what have gone wrong over the years, as post independence brought its own nightmares of city deterioration. Is it because the managers changed or it is the new  managers that are not changing their systems to match up with the times we live in.

Imagine how government is preparing and encouraging stakeholders to participate  at Dubai 2020 Expo, millions being spent by Zimbabwe for the country to be part of the expo. We are going to Dubai to further assist it in its City Branding project for tourism, visibility, investment, partnerships etc.   Now here is why I keep telling Local Government entities why City Branding will transform Cities.

The Dubai case is a phenomenon one, in 1982 most of our cities were better than Dubai in terms of infrastructure development. Enter 2019, our cities look far much worse than Dubai in 1982. We are worlds apart, or should I say millions of light years apart. Dubai City has been building its brand gradually with a commonly shared vision to the extent that most people think its a country.  As for my friends at Local Government, they must learn from this that Dubai City is a success story of City Branding not wishful investment  without deserving it. The greatest question of the day is, if City Branding is not important, why are we responding with thrill to Dubai  2020 Expo pouring in Millions for one expo? We are respondents to a City Branding campaign by Dubai. So then I pose this question, city branding doesn’t matter right?

Zimbabwe used to be a place of development not deterioration,  our private sector back then pre and post independence played a crucial role in ensuring that our cities were tangibly branded through infrastructure development.  Zimasco steel  built schools, recreation of facilities and accommodation in Kwekwe. So did mines in Hwange and Bata factory built schools. Amazing times for our cities,  as private sector was ploughing back into communities. 2019 private sector seems to be all about theirs as some of these private public partnerships have not been functional. The biggest littering contributory product owners are not even taking care of our sanitary issues in our streets that are litter dirt infested especially the CBDs.

Devolution then came and I keep saying that devolution and city branding are like bacon and egg, they are inseparable and they go well together.  You just cant have bacon alone without the eggs, that breakfast would give you a bad taste in your mouth. If City Branding is the Bacon and Eggs are the Devolution, let us have a taste of both. Everyday I am fighting with cities, municipalities, towns and RDCs to make them understand why city branding is not a luxury but a necessity,  they think they can go on without it. They have been going on without it and how did that turn out for us residents ? Water crisis , energy challenges, environmental challenges, poor services, infrastructure nightmare, poor and limited access to information and services, economic hardships, poor governance systems are the end result of trying to go on without city branding.This should be priority to every city, town, municipality and rural district  council . Let us start an era of imaginative communities that build our places for our own betterment and quality of life.

My generation will be here in the next 20 to 50 years, the generation above that is in leadership  doesn’t have that much time.  It is us and our children who shall continue being part of our cities and the troubles, we must be allowed through all kinds of support  facilitation to create our future now. City Branding starts now and we have pioneered it, be part of it and rebuild your city. #MyCityMyFuture

Tare Munzara is a Country Branding Expert and the CEO for Destination Marketing International. For Feedback please do contact Email  on [email protected]   or [email protected] Phone: 0774 817 440

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