Lessons from Rome for Haiti’s President: Port au Prince brand could be key

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL February 22, 2014
Port au Prince's magnificent Neg Mawon could be the image of building a powerful brand identity synonymous with re-building, rebirth and renewal

Port au Prince’s Neg Mawon could serve as a magnificent image symbolizing strength against all odds and re-building a life

Haiti’s President Michel Martelly is in Rome, fulfilling God’s will that he participate in a mass with the Caribbean nation’s new and first cardinal, Chibly Langlois.

That’s all to the good, especially if Mr Martelly looks around him fairly carefully and takes some of the results of that ‘sightseeing’ home to Port au Prince.

What might he see?

* Rome/ The Vatican City are unique: Vatican City is an independent country within a city, the only example in the world of this sort of reverse ordering.

* Rome is one of the oldest, continuously occupied cities in Europe.

* Rome has the status of a global city, ranking in the top 20 of the world’s most-visited cities.

* Rome is said to have one of the world’s most successful city “brands“, in terms of reputation and assets.

This last is an important point. For, ludicrous though it may sound, Port au Prince is a brand too, albeit one that is usually associated with suffering, hardship and chaos. Even so, a brand is a brand and its qualities may be cannily adjusted. Elements of a city’s brand identity can be transformed over time. So how about associating the Port au Prince brand with re-building? Rebirth? Renewal? Survival despite everything?

Haiti’s first cardinal symbolizes this in all sorts of ways. As does the Neg Mawon, the magnificent “unknown slave” in Port au Prince, which could be a powerful symbol of unwavering strength in the face of insurmountable trouble.

Jack Kerouac

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac