Nation branding

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Nation branding is an "idea [that] has been generating more interest in recent years as countries including the United States, Germany, France, Portugal, Estonia and Poland have brought in experts to help them tinker with their identities."[1]

"'Branding' is the ways in which an organization communicates, differentiates and symbolizes itself to all of its audiences. National branding is doing the same thing, but to a whole country. This may be to encourage foreign direct investment, create internal pride, or be a support for exports or any enterprise that a nation may undertake."

"Although it means more than image and perception, 'national branding may be briefly defined as the way a country or a nation--for instance, Palestine--is perceived by the audience.

"It is very important to underline that the audience is split into two major categories: that nation's people and everyone else. It seems that most national branding programs are aimed at foreigners--improving one nation's image in the eye of the rest of the world--but it is equally important to create programs that aim at that nation's own people, because on a long-term basis, a nation is perceived also through its individuals."

"Every nation has a brand. The nation's brand is defined by the people, by their temper, education, look, by their endeavors. This is why national branding is not easy. It is very hard to change a nation's values. It means education, it means economic status, standard of life. It takes generations to change how people are.

"This is not the work of a branding agency, not even of a government. Instead, national branding programs aim at something different: making [the country's] values better known, minimize the effect of several accidents caused by individuals that affect the nation's brand, promote tourism, or attract investors."


"Branding experts" like Simon Anholt, who established Placebrands early in 2003 but now works as an independent policy advisor to several governments, help "countries develop and communicate strong brand identities [which] could help speed up development by attracting foreign investors and tourists. That, in turn, could increase political influence and help a country's corporations grow."[2]

"Next year, Finland will start a campaign to enhance its image as a center of high-tech innovation, with the hope of helping its technology companies fare better in the United States. Branding is also seen as crucial to many Central European countries that have realized that their timelines for acceptance into the European Union, and their ability to compete against their neighbors for investment, depend in part on how they are perceived by more developed European countries like France and Germany.

"Changing the image of a country is no easier than changing the image of a company or an individual. While branding may be able to help a country improve its communication with the world, it won't work if the country sends out lies or hype, said Erich Joachimsthaler, chief executive of Vivaldi Partners, a four-year-old agency that specializes in branding. Mr. Joachimsthaler said that when working with Germany, he had run into a perception gap that is common in such work. His German clients wanted to portray themselves as a passionate, emotional, flexible people, an image that he said was 'a whole bunch of baloney.'

"Charlotte Beers, the former chief executive of the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, served for a year and a half as President George Walker Bush's under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs - and part of the job was the task of selling America to the Middle East.

"Jennifer L. Aaker, an associate professor of marketing at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, said that task was almost impossible. 'One of the reasons that effort failed was because of the underlying product - our policies were not perceived as pro-Middle East. We failed to understand the media, the culture, even the language in that region. It is difficult to garner favorable perceptions of the American brand in that context.'

"While most countries have complicated identities, Croatia, one of Mr. Anholt's clients, is a particularly vexing case. To the extent that people in Western Europe think of the country at all, they associate it with Nazi complicity in World War II, Mr. Anholt said, or with the bloody conflicts in the 1990's between the Serbs and the Croats. Stjepo Martinovic, editor of Croatia's national heritage magazine, Matica, and a former adviser to the Croatian government on European integration, said that because Croatia is scheduled to join the European Union as early as 2007, it was particularly important that the country project a positive image.

"'We are trying to present Croatia as a normal country, a market economy, a democratic society, a Mediterranean country,' Mr. Martinovic said. He argues that Croatia can be made attractive to the rest of the world by letting people know about its inexpensive work force, its livable cities and its schools that offer classes in English - as well as its ballet, theater and contemporary artists."

Read remainder of article at When Nations Need a Little Marketing by Jim Rendon, NYT, November 23, 2003.

"Since 9/11 : Brand Usa has received huge coverage, particularly because of the high visibility battle between gurus with 2 very different belief systems about branding: Charlotte Beers a doyen of the ad industry hired by George W. Bush to get the USA's message out and Naomi Klein of Nologo & Globalisation who furiously criticises global identities of all sorts. Whilst apparently disagreeing about almost everything, they both are reported to use the word brand almost synonymously with image & message-making. Actually this is only the visible tip of why global identities can have huge value for almost anyone who produces or is served by the economics of the system of leadership and the value exchanges they represent. It is time nations as the biggest general influencer on people's livelihoods learnt all about this.

"Historically nation branding and invention of tradition has always happened by accident more than continuous economic planning. However, serious economic planning around nation branding is now at least 10 years old with the New Zealand government being one of the practice leaders in this field since early 1990s . And before that both Singapore and Japan over decades represented much more consistent brand leadership than most global companies exhibited. However, the most important recent understanding in nation brand architectures may be that in a networked world it's not just a big/rich country topic but a vital one to involve developing countries in. Start with the question who does a nation brand represent?: and you can map out hundreds of detailed possibilities most of which get ignored if you are trying to govern one brand for everyone. Start with the different question series: what are the 3 most desperate developing needs in this country? can we sub-brand an activist network around each one? can that national seal of honour of doing good work most desperately needed human areas of development then be awarded by the activist networks to global companies and other who really help them - if you will a poor nation's 'virtual oscars ceremony' to the big organisational powers among the World Economic Forum's members that provide the most consistent grassroots help in developing communities and you have a different dynamic of nation branding by the people for the people. There then may emerge direct links between competent branding of nations and United Nations global compacts, WEF corporate citizenships and the whole practice of Corporate Social Responsibility."

Source: Yahoo! Groups: melnet 2 - Brand Chartering & MELNET 2.0, March 21, 2002.

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