Brand Jamaica is the focus of our interview with Hume Johnson, in which she discusses the links between nation branding and public diplomacy and the role of public relations professionals in place branding. Hume offers valuable insights into the history of Jamaica and its many brand assets. She outlines how a more holistic approach to nation branding – less tourism-centrist and destination-focused – could benefit Jamaica’s positioning as a place to not just visit but also invest and work in.
- Brand Jamaica: its history, challenges and opportunities;
- Hume’s key insights from leading the Re:Imagine Jamaica Project;
- Nation branding practices in the Americas;
- The connections between nation branding, public relations and journalism;
- Current trends and challenges in country branding;
- How nation branding can support social justice and peace;
- How to measure the success and effectiveness of nation branding campaigns.
Hume, do you remember what first attracted your interest in nation branding?
It was 2012 and I was at home in Jamaica as our nation recognized 50 years of Independence from Britain. The massive celebrations featured the rich heritage and culture of Jamaica, the amazing talent of our people – from our sportsmen and women, musical stars of the reggae, ska, rocksteady and mento eras, as well as a reflection on our democratic institutions, business sector and achievements in several governance indicators.
However, it struck me that what we were celebrating at home – the core features of our national identity – was at odds with the image of Jamaica projected to the world, which was manifestly tourism-centric and largely aesthetic. It was clear that the Jamaican people have been peripheralized in the construction of, and marketing of “Brand Jamaica” in favour of a Western colonial vista of the ‘islands’, so to speak. I found this disconnect troubling.
This forced me to dig deeper into the notion of ‘nation branding’ and more specifically the trends, challenges and impacts of current representations of Jamaica in the global arena.