Op-Ed: Forbidden brand
The main problem with the “national brand” that we have tried to develop is that we ourselves have sabotaged it. Many initiatives have been rejected for the sake of the continued polarization of forces distilled in circles demanding foolish leadership roles.
In recent days, the Puerto Rico Products Association attempted to establish a program to promote the “Made in Puerto Rico” brand as a substitute for the creation of a national brand. On the other hand, the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association has come together to promote a 10-point tactical plan that recommends, among other things, that the government move toward creating the “Puerto Rico” brand.
As we can see, there are many who advocate that the government become a facilitator, and not the custodian of the process, the brand, and, much less, a censor of resources trying to wrap up the first point needed to reposition the island.
There’s much work to be done. There are many interested in collaborating. We must address the issue from different dimensions that can rapidly reinsert the island into the international competitiveness arena. We need to develop a brand that covers the destination as a whole; an umbrella message that oversees sub-brands, market segments and interests through a plan that reflects the island’s best attributes.
The issue of the national brand, from the perspective of the past three administrations (including the present one), has become a decorative one in government programs. Since assuming their respective positions, people like [House Speaker] Jaime Perelló, Tourism Company Executive Director Ingrid Rivera-Rocafort, and Economic Development and Commerce Secretary, Alberto Bacó, have addressed the issue directly and indirectly, saying they are working on a plan to implement a national brand, and in turn, comply with legislation passed establishing the reign of a brand that is invariant to campaigns or administration changes, and that best represents the island abroad.
Many contributors to “national brand” projects in the past can provide institutional memory, intelligence and expertise to the process, vis-a-vis other destinations. They are in the best position to contribute to this project to accomplish the plan to establish synergies and partnerships, and a comprehensive framework for achieving these goals.
We must join forces, unite wills, forge multisectoral openness and participation. There is much more that unites us for Puerto Rico’s sake. Understanding that the brand can be an element of cohesion among different audiences is the right direction in this journey. Let’s not allow the national brand project to become a “forbidden brand.”