Something that has been on my mind for a while, an aspect of brand identity is Unique Selling Proposition (USP). I have been relating it to the different countries I have visited over the last few years and I keep asking myself; What is Uganda’s USP?
Recently I was on a flight and there was an interesting interview with one of the most successful businessmen in Dubai. The founder and CEO of DAMAC Construction; the brain behind many magnificent hotels in Dubai including the Marina that we had a chance to visit a couple of years back. In this interview something caught my attention, for UAE, development is not by chance. It is an effort of strategic planning and intentionality in working out the image of the UAE. 30 plus years ago. It surely was not what it is today. In fact, back then, many of the exposed parents struggled to send their children abroad to America for better Education. Mr. Hussain Sajwani, (featured CEO) had to go to college in the USA for his University Degree. Today, despite its history Dubai has strategically placed itself as one of the biggest connection city in the world. It welcomes both investors and tourists from all over the world. Investors are allowed to carry out their business tax-free. The Dirham has a fixed exchange rate against the USD which makes it attractive for many foreign investors. Let’s not even talk about the infrastructure. Very conducive for all Peoples. Dubai is no doubt the city that connects the world.
Then I remembered my visit last year to the amazingly beautiful Seychelles Island. As we landed at Mahe International Airport, we were welcomed by a soft and warm drizzle cooling us off from the long journey through Addis. I realized there and then that the Island had a natural way of getting every visitor to relax. I forgot all about the stress once I stepped on that ground. As we walked through the security, we took in the calmness in the area. There were many people traveling from all over the world for holiday. The immigration officers were very friendly and helpful. Giving guidance and helping everyone through it. Our friends, the amazing couple (thanks to them we had this opportunity) were already waiting for us at the arrivals outside.
Everything is so simplified out there. We quickly jumped into the van to take us to our hotel. The drive, oh the drive, the scenery was out of this world. The pictures I had seen of Seychelles before visiting were indeed not an exaggeration but rather underrated the beauty in this place. The homes along the pathways, roads were beautifully fenced with flowers and painted with sunny bright colors. Our driver, who was a bit elderly was quite informed about the details of every area and gave us a mini tour. It was amazing to find a well-informed driver. Later I learned that for Seychelles, once they realized that their Island is a beauty that many want to experience, they chose to focus on tourism as their USP. Hosting people is part of their tradition now. They even have special schools to train youth in hospitality and hotel management. The result is that everyone is involved in promoting their USP.
What about Industrious India? I have visited here twice, Bangalore to be specific. I have observed how people conduct themselves in business. One thing that has been mastered is to never turn away a customer. The Indian has mastered this ‘Customer is King’ principle. I have even visited big malls that have big brands and never have I been left hanging around without attention. Maybe they have many USPs but one that stands out for me is Business Acumen.
Do I have you thinking about beloved Uganda? Perhaps, you have an idea what our USP is, yes? To be honest, I am confused. I feel like we try to do it all. We front Agriculture as our main source of economic gain. We have the best soils and weather in the world but what are we doing with it? A few months back my colleagues and I visited some district headquarters our organization intends to work in for the next Strategic Plan. We asked about their plans and what they envision to be the most resourceful economic activity. Agriculture was quickly mentioned. However, They expressed concern that it is being shunned by the youth. The same youth who are crying about unemployment. If it is our USP, haven’t we failed in getting everyone see its value?
Meanwhile, this may be slightly off, but I was startled by the reality at our International Airport. Apart from the staff working at the immigration, there’s almost nothing that represents Uganda. Even the crafts that are sold in the duty-free shops, you would be surprised that 80% are imported from other parts of the world. I wondered! With all the talent we have? All the creative things are done by Ugandans? What happened really? Why are we so slow at promoting our stuff? Oh, the possibilities that would open for many young people who are daily developing product…
And…What about you my dear friend who has been so kind to read to this end? Do you know your USP? The functional aspect of our brand. What is it about you that describes your biggest technical, methodological, social and individual strengths? What is your brand mantra? What do you live for? Have you thought about your calling? Are you developing your God-given unique gifts? What will be remembered most about you? You cannot be everywhere and do everything. Likewise, you can not keep switching to whatever you have seen so and so has succeeded in.
Maybe if we answered this question at a personal level, maybe, just maybe our country would also have a defined USP. Maybe we would have something that is authentically Ugandan that is well-known world over.
Live a life you would like to remember.