Rebranding Indonesia

When we read, hear or think about Bali, a certain impression or perception will flash in our mind and heart. The perception was built over time from news or stories about Bali and from our personal experiences when visiting various places in the island, and the interaction that we have with the people and its culture.

It’s like savings. Good stories and nice experience related with Bali will add savings in the memory bank, and strengthen the image. Bad stories and terrible experience about the island will withdraw the savings and weaken the image. The balance will determine people’s perception towards Bali.

Another example is the bad news we received recently about deadly violence culture at IPDN (the Institute of Public Administration). The news has withdrawn huge savings in people’s memory banks about IPDN, which balance was already negative because of previous death incidents.
However, the suspension of the rector and the establishment of an inter-departmental team that will start reforming IPDN in two months time, have added savings to the memory bank. The balance, however, is still negative.

Repeated deadly accidents with budget airlines had sent negative messages to passengers about the safety of such cheap services. It also caused a very painful experience for the families and friends who were affected by the incidents. The balance of the savings is negative. The brand image is bad.
Recent news that Garuda flight landed with burst tires at Makassar, albeit safely, has taken out further savings from people’s memory towards Garuda after Yogya accident. The balance, however, is still positive to me.

In the case of Indonesia, the name is frequently associated with corruption, inefficiency, legal uncertainties, mismanagement of its abundant natural resources, huge foreign debts, heaven of counterfeit products, ethnic clashes, poverty, floods, disasters, etc. The image is not that good.

A company may change its name, symbol or logo, etc. when the executive wants to rebuild the company's image, as what Pertamina's doing now.
Majority of Indonesian people, however, will never want to change the Indonesia name, its symbol, its national anthem, nor its flag. Hence, Indonesia can not be detached completely from its current image, and therefore it will take a very long time to to fix it. Besides, it’s not easy to change people’s mindset and habits.

To improve Indonesia image, positive messages should be consistently received by people in and outside the country, e.g. on the progress of government and the private sectors actions to tackle those above issues, such as the work of KPK (Corruption Eradication Commission) and other anti corruption drives, the new regulation on investments, the resolution of Aceh and other sectarian conflicts, the reduction of foreign debts, the raids to malls and places that sell counterfeit products, the improvements in disaster management, etc.

The news on the improvements shall be proven with personal experience that the business community and common people have when they deal with bureaucrats, police officers, lawyers, judges, etc. The improvement of the perception will be much better when people can use all the five senses, probably also the sixth sense, to asses the progress.

Despite the huge challenges we are still facing, we shall keep our respect to the country. As no one will respect a country unless its citizen knows how to respect themselves and the country where they live.

, seorang pejalan musiman dan penyuka sejarah. Penduduk Jakarta yang sedang tinggal di Cikarang Utara. Diperbarui: April 13, 2007.

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