Govt, private sector needs to strengthen ‘Brand Jamaica’ to improve exports

Govt, private sector needs to strengthen ‘Brand Jamaica’ to improve exports

KINGSTON: If Jamaica is to improve it’s exporting capacity, both the Government and private sector will need to “strengthen Brand Jamaica”. This was the mantra at the launch of Phase II of the National Export Strategy (NES) hosted by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, through JAMPRO.

“It has become clear that there is an overwhelming need to leverage what we call ‘Brand Jamaica’ to its fullest potential,” according to JAMPRO President Dianne Edwards.

“Everyone here will agree that there exists a very potent international awareness based on the performance and reputation of our people. The world knows Jamaica for our sports and musical prowess. Many people will also know us for products such as jerk, rum, cocoa, coffee, and ginger,” she said.

“But, have we really taken full advantage of this potential? Have we really leveraged this awareness into a true global brand positioning?” she questioned, pointing out that while the Marley family has established its name as a brand on various products, our athletes have yet to capitalise on opportunities in sports merchandise.

Edwards is hopeful, though, that Jamaica has the ability to develop campaigns similar to Incredible India, Britain is Great, Made in America, or the Colombian coffee campaign led by Juan Valdes.

But in order to strengthen Brand Jamaica, there needs to be a cohesive identity as to what Brand Jamaica means, according to Kevon Wilson from Tourism Intelligence International — a Trinidad-based consultancy firm working with JAMPRO to develop the Jamaican brand.

In a post-conference interview Wilson told the Jamaica Observer that there is “a lack of consistency across the board” in identifying what Brand Jamaica represents, as various industries and companies use a plethora of selling points/angles to market Jamaican products and services on the international landscape.

In addition, Jamaican-type products that are labelled “Made in Jamaica” threaten the export of authentic Jamaican products and services, Wilson said.

But the issue is being addressed, as Wilson expanded that JAMPRO has begun the process to protect the integrity of Brand Jamaica by acquiring geographical indications — trademarks used to identify the quality, reputation or other characteristics associated with a product that originates from a particular region or country, such as “Made in Jamaica”, Jamaican Jerk or Blue Mountain Coffee.

While Jamaica is not currently a signatory to any of the international trademark and copyright agreements, efforts are being made to correct this.

The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) has made preparatory steps to sign the Madrid Agreement, and drafted amendments to the Trade Marks Act 1999 should be tabled in Parliament following the summer break, according to Lilyclaire Bellamy, acting executive director of JIPO.

Bellamy expects that the amendments to the Act will be passed before the calendar year, after which the Jamaican Government should sign the Madrid Agreement.

Published Date: 
Saturday, August 22, 2015