August 20, 2008 2386 VIEWS


Branding, Wikipedia describes it as a collection of images and ideas representing an economic producer; more specifically, it refers to the descriptive verbal attributes and concrete symbols such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme that convey the essence of a company, product or service.

Branding and brand equity have become increasingly important components of culture and the economy and it is now being described as \"cultural accessories\".

A brand can be a product or service, or it could be a trademark in an abstract sense or even the targets’ belief in a particular product.


It is an exciting time for branding. As everything becomes global, good branding becomes more crucial. Branding is the buzz in recent times and it cuts across all phases and all things, people, organizations, products and places.


Branding of places aptly described as “Destination Branding” includes Nation, State and City Branding.

For decades this practice has existed, but more recently it’s become in business vogue—and a powerful economic advantage.

Destination branding is about clearly defining a purpose, being distinct, consistently communicating a persona, and delivering on a promise.

Destination branding tinkers with the identity of the place in question. It offers a deliberate and systematic communication by creating an image and building a perception of trust, credibility and the specific niche the destination has to offer.


Beyond the abstract offerings in theory, a destination brand is defined by the people, by their temper, education, look, natural resources, landscape and by their endeavors. A pot pourri of all these attributes connotes what a place stands for.  A good case study of a destination branding well deployed is the CrossRiver State branding.


CrossRiver State, located in the South-South geo political zone of Nigeria is a very special place where nature bestowed upon it, its beauty with a large dose of generosity. The state plays host to quite a number of nature’s beauty, the green and lush vegetation, the Obudu cattle ranch, the Agbokim water falls, the warm people, the serenity, the cuisine etc. Cross Riverians by nature are very hospitable, the culinary skills and the variety of available native delicacies in this region are quite impressive.


CrossRiver and its capital have the longest Tropical Rain Forest Area which is relatively precinct. Calabar is watered by the Great Qua rivers and Creeks of the CrossRiver (from its inland Delta).

Also, in historical context, the state has a rich history, its capital; Calabar has been known to European Sailors as far back as the 15th century.  It has an international sea port known to the world from the 16th century. Calabar once served as the seat of Government of the Niger Coast Protectorate, Southern Protectorate and Oil River Protectorate. Calabar has one of the earliest Military barracks in Nigeria. It was the place where Monorail was first experienced in Nigeria. Calabar has the first public (General) Hospital in Nigeria – St. Margaret Hospital. CrossRiver also has the oldest post office that provided postal services in Nigeria.

The first ever social club in Nigeria known as ‘The Africa Club’ was formed in Calabar.


CrossRiver produced the first Nigerian Professor, Professor Eyo Ita. Competitive football matches in Nigeria first began in Calabar. The first Nigerian Inspector General of Police, Sir Louis Edet, was an indigene of CrossRiver State precisely Calabar. Calabar has the oldest Secondary School East of the Niger,   Hope    Waddell Training Institute (1895).


Mrs. Margaret U. Ekpo from Calabar was the first woman Special member in Nigeria’s Eastern House of Chiefs and later Eastern House of Assembly. The first Nigeria’s World Boxing Champion, Hogan [KID] Bassey hailed from Calabar. King Archibong III (Obong) was the first King in the Southern Nigeria to be crowned with regalia sent by Queen Victoria in1878.


CrossRiver sure has a lot going for it and had been a brand albeit ignorantly for a long time. Like it is often said “when you wink in the dark only you know what you are doing” it took a visionary leader who saw the potentials begging for attention to realize the brand will benefit from unique positioning and external brand projection.


The Government of the day led by the quintessential Senator Liyel Imoke found it imperative to

ensure the whole world experience the marriage of nature and human expertise that has created the paradise known as CrossRiver State. This will not just build brand equity it will also generate an unprecedented level of return on investment, he can’t be further from the truth.


To achieve this, on the 22nd of October the Liyel Imoke led government bought into the vision of branding by signing up the highly reputed Brand Management Consultancy firm ADSTRAT BMC to birth the idea. In his words  Senator Liyel Imoke said that “CrossRiver State aspires by 2010, to be the leading Nigerian State with prosperous, healthy and well educated citizens, living in harmony with people and nature and pursuing their legitimate interests in freedom moderated by good governance\"  


The brief was clear on what the state needed to achieve, stating that CrossRiver should be repositioned as a corporate brand, a promoter of Tourism and a fast emerging commercial haven of Nigeria and Africa while also positioning the state as economically viable.


The brief also required that the perception of the state be enhanced within and outside Nigeria and evolve a strategic communication platform for the brand and reposition the brand as the leading investment viable state in Nigeria.


Thus began the Re-O2ygenation of CrossRiver State.

02ygenation | Re-O2ygenation is a core branding process through which ADSTRAT brings a brand to life through a variety of brand experience. It is a basis for building a consistent and long-term relationship with target consumers. A methodology of focusing all consumer activities around a single theme essential to maximize exploitation of brand activity to the widest audience key to delivering the brand vision and meeting annual objectives.


ADSTRAT developed a cohesive branding strategy to promote the state’s brand assets to promote economic progression for the state. ADSTRAT conducted the brand audit evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the brand; this exercise is necessary to ensure it identifies the strong and credible brand assets to be marketed.


Based on the result of the brand audit, a detailed strategy document was developed to incorporate national and international communication platforms for the brand.

The strategy document proffered to make necessary physical and mental changes to attract and keep “The Creative Class”.

Embrace a big, distinct idea and unite all subvoices to sing the same song; and stick with it.

Educate [o2yculturation] all forces and the citizens that the brand is not just the logo or tagline. It’s the sum of everything the destination stands for.

Having looked at all attributes of the brand natural and human, the free trade zone, the business resort it communicates one strong message, whatever you need to do either business or leisure Crossriver state is unarguably the destination. This culminated into the “Great Mind Grab” DESTINATION CROSS RIVER”.

A logo and other brand elements was designed for the “Destination CrossRiver” project , the logo was translated unto all corporate function materials, [letterheads, call cards , envelopes, et.c.] and marketing materials including print adverts billboards and marketing brochures.

The brand was launched at an elaborate ceremony conceptualized and planned by STRATIS the Image & Events subsidiary of ADSTRAT. The launch enjoyed media blitz cutting across all platforms of mass communication.

The Governor also endorsed production of lapel pins with the logo as he became the first person to wear same as the chief brand ambassador of CrossRiver State.

ADSTRAT developed which serves as a reference document for the CrossRiver state brand. While an O2ycultration session was facilitated to enable all Exco staff members imbibe the essence of the brand.

The Result: CrossRiver State has achieved increased recognition and garnered considerable equity amongst target audience home and abroad.

The state is enjoying tremendous attention as major tourist haven most blue chip companies and the diplomatic community find Calabar the choice for retreats and seminars.

Of course, the multiplying effect is that the government increases its revenue base, economic activites are on the increase and ultimately the citizens are empowered as more job opportunities are created. At the moment an average Crossriverian is very proud of being an indigene as speak glowingly of all that the state has to offer as though it had never been there before. Definitely Liyel Imoke got it right.

Carnival Calabar 2007 alone saw over a million visitors plying the Calabar route, airlines smiled to the banks, hotels were bursting at their seams as CrossRiver delivers on its brand’s promise: “Business or Pleasure, Welcome Home”

CrossRiver combines all the elements of “Destination Branding” and ADSTRAT and its consortium Axle [Strategic media buying company], Stratis [Image & Events Company] successfully midwife the lofty vision of Senator Liyel Imoke.

Destination CrossRiver is one of the bold step of the Liyel Imoke administration’s goal for achieving greatness for the state. It sure is working wonders for it.

As Paris is known for Romance, New York for Energy, Milan for style, CrossRiver stands out in all its glory as the nation’s paradise known as the ultimate destination for business or leisure.

Destination CrossRiver is still been implemented and no doubt is placing CrossRiver as the hub of business or pleasure in this part of the world.


Proshare affirms that this is not a sponsored article and we have not charged nor received any income from the publication or related programme discussed. The article is published mainly for information and awareness purposes and the authors have no fiduciary relationship with the company, owners or employees.

Related Articles
August 20, 2008 1872 VIEWS
August 19, 2008 626 VIEWS