'Varsities reflect society' - university dialogue on nation brand

Posted on October 07, 2016


Brand South Africa hosted a diverse group of international academics at the University of Pretoria on Wednesday, 5 October for its first day-long university dialogue on the nation brand.

In welcoming delegates, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, Prof Cheryl de la Rey said that, given the ongoing protest and debate on campuses across South Africa, the event was a timely reminder of the crucial role universities play in defining and shaping a nation's identity.

The University of Pretoria, she said, is committed to its role in advancing South Africa as a nation. 'This is the opportune time to host this event. It is a moment to think deeply about the value of public institutions to society and brand in South Africa.'

The event brought together a range of leading academics to deliberate on how South Africa is currently positioned, whether this positioning is positive or negative, what works, and how the various elements of the brand impact on nation brand positioning.

The discussion was intended to give Brand South Africa a solid basis from which to critique the work currently undertaken with a range of stakeholders to position South Africa competitively and positively.

'Universities are the public spaces for discourse on the nature of our society,' Prof De la Rey said. A strong and resilient nation brand, she said, is built on a common vision and a shared identity. Universities are the place where a nation of people should discover who they are.

She added that she hoped the day's discussions would end with innovative and creative solutions to the fault-lines we face as a nation.

Ambassador Kingsley Makhubela, Brand South Africa CEO, said that universities are the perfect venue for the conversation on nation brand: 'Academic communities allow for open discussion.'

The issue to be discussed, he said, was how we can overcome the problem of blurred lines when we try to define a strong state versus a nation brand. 'A strong state will build a strong nation brand,' he said.

The solutions generated will be useful and therefore he encouraged delegates to be frank and open: 'The ideas we generate today will have an impact. They will inform policy,' he said.



- Author Source: Brand South Africa

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