Text Rosalia Iileka
Branding is about creating a recognisable image: one that symbolises uniqueness and to which people can have an emotional connection. One that encourages instinctive trust, a willingness to pay more money than is strictly necessary, and perhaps a little bit of ‘this is better than those things that haven’t been branded’ snobbery.
Getting a brand right is more difficult than it might seem. We see red and white, our brain absorbs the colours and design, and thinks Coca Cola! Then comes a message! ‘Coke adds life!’ A winner? Yes and no. The Taiwanese ads translated ‘Coke adds life’ as ‘Coke brings your ancestors back from the grave’. Barbie works really well, but not in Malaysia, where Barbie sounds rather like ‘bahasa’, the Malay word for pig. Not a great success in a predominantly Muslim country where pigs aren’t welcome.
A good brand endures. Tate and Lyle, with its brand-designed golden syrup cans, hasn’t bothered spending money on re-branding for close to two centuries. Still recognisable by anybody who likes golden syrup, the company’s brand features a dead lion with bees emerging from its decomposing corpse. Out of the lion came sweetness. Wow! How is that for branding! And who the hell thought that one up in the first place? And why is this the longest-living brand name in history? (Apart from Vesuvius Wine, Mount Vesuvius being smothered in ash following the volcanic eruption).
As part of park re-branding, brands became a bit of an issue. The old heraldic image of the tower with two gemsbok supporting it was deemed by some to be outdated. Others felt it was iconic and shouldn’t be meddled with.
There were debates about which animal should be selected as Namibia’s new brand animal. This became a rhino versus a kudu versus a gemsbok thing, and the gemsbok won out. The new brand? Look for a gemsbok!
Chief Control Warden for Central Parks, Manie le Roux, says he would not go to work without his uniform (good news; we don’t want nude chief-control wardens wandering around) and he is proud of his job, plus it’s important for people to identify him as a nature conservation official. “I feel naked without my name tag,” he says. And his new Namibian brand? A re-invented gemsbok.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), in partnership with the Strengthening the Protected Area Network (SPAN) project, has developed a comprehensive branding guideline and visual trademark to establish Namibia’s Directorate of Parks and Wildlife Management as a brand and to increase visibility and staff pride while creating awareness and marketing, all at the same time.
Good signage and well-branded national parks give confidence (as in security assurance) to visitors, and an image to which they can relate their experience and also illustrate dedication by Government to conservation.
The new Parks and Wildlife logo features a distinguishable and recognisable gemsbok. It was designed to be the visual identity of Namibian parks and wildlife areas, and is intended to provide confirmation to visitors that they are entering a national park. The brand is reflected on different materials and media, such as signage along roadsides and motor gates, and on uniforms, vehicle stickers, name tags, epaulettes, staff business cards, brochures, booklets and other publications.
It was developed to ensure that all branding materials would be used appropriately. To ensure this, a training course that included demonstrations was held with field staff. The guide to branding the Namibian Directorate of Parks and Wildlife Management is available on the MET website www.met.gov.na.
And as long as it’s not translated by the Taiwanese, I feel confident that it will be a tremendous success!
This article was originally published in the 2013 Conservation and the Environment in Namibia magazine.