Today’s global market is highly competitive and calls for an effective brand strategy- innovative, consistent and tactical, which would not only lead to a strong brand equity but also help provide a major shift in terms of competitiveness.
But branding is not an easy task and as opined by the Founder of Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF) Shariful Islam, “Building a brand is like a journey of creating value…There has to be a holistic approach to building a successful brand…” And if it happens to be the task of branding a sector or an industry or that of a country to say so, one can very well imagine the difficulty involved.
So, when it comes to the Bangladesh garment industry, consistently portraying it in the positive light before the global audience though difficult, is paramount as it will not only help to change the narrative that coincidentally or shall we say wrongly stuck to the sector in the wake of the tragic Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions incidents for long, but present the industry in light of today’s reality wherein it has made massive all-round development to turn into the world’s second largest garment exporter, besides accounting for 84 per cent of Bangladesh’s exports and employing more than four million workers, all of which coming at the back of the sector’s rapid growth and modernisation over the past decade as well as the massive strides it has made in achieving safety, security and sustainability, so much so that the industry today boasts of the highest number of green sustainable manufacturing units, which are at once world-class and awe-inspiring.
“While post-Rana Plaza ushered in a whole new era of remediation, doubts around sustainability continue to haunt the sector. Somehow the common perception is that not all of us want to sustain the positive changes and, somehow the verdict is always in favour of us being monitored. Little do we make it known that we have poured in so much investment into our production units that we now can’t afford to see all that go waste,” underlined the immediate past President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Dr. Rubana Huq in her first interview with Apparel Resources after taking over as the BGMEA President.
She went on to add, “Perception change is the need of the hour and, I would not shy away from the idea of even hiring lobbyists. We are planning to hire good PR agencies in London and Sweden and a few lobbyists from Geneva, and this might very well change how Bangladesh is looked upon currently.”
So even as the efforts of the trade body strongly continues still, now under the leadership of its new President Faruque Hassan, the Government has also stepped in this brand building exercise, which already got a boost after the BGMEA has been awarded the 2021 USGBC Leadership Award by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) for green initiatives in the local apparel industry, which incidentally also makes the BGMEA, the only organisation across the apparel industry to have won this prestigious award.
“The apparel industry in Bangladesh has made unprecedented achievements in the area of workplace safety and ensuring well-being of the workers in the last decade. In past eight years we have worked in collaboration with our Government, ILO and the international buyers-led platform ACCORD and ALLIANCE to inspect and remediate each and every factory that produces garment for export,” stated the current BGMEA President Faruque Hassan in a recent interview with the Apparel Resources.
He then added, “As a result, today Bangladesh is one of the safest apparel producing countries in the world. In the area of environmental sustainability, the success of the RMG industry in Bangladesh is remarkable. We have 138 LEED green factories, 35 platinum rated and 500+ factories are in the queue of certification. We have participated in IFC’s Partnership for Cleaner Textile (PaCT) project to reduce our water footprint. BGMEA is also working with Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Reverse Resources for implementing circular economy in the Bangladesh RMG industry.”
Further, Bangladesh has also come second on a list comparing the ethical auditing practices of major manufacturing countries, according to the QIMA report.
I am extremely excited and proud, but I have to say that manufacturers in Bangladesh deserve the recognition given the dedication and determination they have shown since the crisis of Rana Plaza to increase the health, safety and working condition, and compliance standard to lead the world, underlined Faruque.
In the report 2020 in Review by QIMA, it said, “The challenges of the pandemic have strongly exacerbated human rights risks in global supply chains”, but Bangladesh manufacturers really proved their mettle in taking the ethical manufacturing standard to a new height even as Bangladesh ranked 2nd with a score of 7.7 only behind Taiwan which scored 8.0. while Vietnam came in third, followed by Thailand, Pakistan, Turkey, China, India and Brazil.
China was seventh on the list behind Pakistan and Turkey, the report said.
“Today, Bangladesh’s RMG sector is a frontrunner in transparency regarding factory safety and value-chain responsibility, thanks to initiatives launched in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster… All these measures and the tremendous determination and resilience of manufacturers of Bangladesh, have helped transform the manufacturing safety standard of Bangladeshi factories. We are continuing this work relentlessly to maintain high standard of safety, compliance and sustainability in RMG sector and you will see continuous progress in all the areas,” further added Faruque.
Now, to give that much-needed boost to highlight the country’s achievements, Bangladesh Government has tied up with CNN to showcase ‘Made in Bangladesh’ branding globally. As per reports, the campaign in this regard will begin from next September/October and continue for almost a year, focusing on seven sectors including RMG wherein USA-based multinational news channel Cable News Network – better known as CNN – will carry out a branding campaign for Bangladesh in the international arena, highlighting the country’s achievements and compliance in its flourishing export-oriented sectors.
This initiative will boost Bangladesh’s image in the international community, which in turn will increase the demand for Bangladeshi goods among foreign consumers and brands, officials at the Commerce Ministry maintained even as the Government is also optimistic that the campaign will help foreign investments go up.
The Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) – under the Commerce Ministry – signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with CNN International Commercial (CNNIC) in a virtual programme recently for showcasing the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ brand globally.
The initiative will be run under public-private cooperation, and the private sector will bear the cost.
Branding company Spellbound signed the deal on behalf of CNNIC.
Bangladesh is now the global leader in establishing green industries in the RMG sector besides witnessing the rise of many international standard companies in pharmaceutical and other export-oriented sectors. But the international media do not showcase them much. Instead, they focus on the negative aspects of Bangladesh’s private sector, industry insiders lamented, adding, the Government has as such taken this initiative to counter such issues, even as Bangladesh had previously organised roadshows in different countries across the globe, but this type of branding campaign is a first for Bangladesh.
According to available reports, the Government has formed an 11-member steering committee headed by Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi to implement the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ branding campaign through CNN. Besides, a finance sub-committee has been formed with the BFTI CEO as its head.
Under the campaign, CNN will develop and execute TVC, Blueprint Bespoke Editorial, Promo, Vignettes and a ‘Made in Bangladesh’ theme week. The CNN will also promote seven potential export sectors as well as 10 leading export-oriented organisations within the selected sectors.
“We believe in positive branding and we laud the branding initiative taken by the Government.
We have been making serious efforts to boost our brand value and many of our success stories get no attention from the international media. This campaign will help us showcase our achievements,” underlined BGMEA Director Mohiuddin Rubel.
Spellbound’s Managing Director and CEO Mohammad Sadequl Arefeen said, “The CNN website will have a content hub from Bangladesh, which will promote the country’s pioneering sectors. CNN will feature Bangladesh’s success stories through the content hub and other media,” even as BFTI acting CEO Obaidul Azam on his part said, “The CNN creates quality content. By featuring this content across the world, Bangladesh will be able to pinpoint export strategies for various industries, expand trade opportunities and secure a supportive role for the country in the long run.”
A very good initiative to say the least, how much Bangladesh and the RMG sector would benefit from this move is to be seen though