A country’s ‘brand’ matters whether it is an advanced or developing economy. Successful countries identify their image and key products, and prioritize the appropriate policies to strengthen such attributes. This is a more obvious requirement in some sectors, such as tourism, where countries develop hospitality industries and infrastructure such as convenient airport facilities. However, such marketing concepts increasingly apply to countries as a whole.
Relatively successful economies can readily identify their “brand.” They draw on their comparative advantages to find ways of encouraging growth by attracting the people, businesses and investment they need. Newly cash-rich countries, such as successful energy and commodity producers, also have ample resources to address the issue of defining and nurturing a “brand,” with some promoting their strong governance and security, others their infrastructure, “connectivity,” tax regime or culture.
With an unfavorable initial position and few available resources, less successful economies and, particularly, failing states struggle to identify a viable “brand.” However, in the same way that corporate brands and styles have been revived from what had seemed an inevitable decline, some countries have successfully recreated their image:
- Australia transformed itself from penal colony to one of the most popular property markets and successful developed economies.
- South Korea, a poor, rural society after WWII, emerged as a rich economy and became identified with efficiency and quality, thereby feeding a virtuous circle through which development reinforces itself.
- Supported not only by good policies, but also the ability to communicate them successfully to the foreign public, major developing countries have overcome international suspicions to become the envy of many advanced economies.
A key lesson from the corporate world is that turning around a weak image can be very profitable. Having a poor economic and political record has practical consequences in terms of being less able to attract foreign investment, and elevating the risk premium in capital markets, reflecting reluctance on the part of investors to get involved:
- Argentina is an example of such a problem, along with many parts of Africa.
- By contrast, and in spite of all its fiscal and debt problems, the fact that Greece “rebranded” itself as a euro-area country may mean it is likely to have a “cheaper” crisis, even in the event of a debt restructuring, than would otherwise have been the case.
- In any case, markets tend to forget quickly past financial misdemeanors once a country has managed to “rebrand” itself as a trustworthy partner offering good return on investment.
The payoff for challenge.
A country’s image as a reliable player in global economic affairs and an agreeable place to visit creates a virtuous circle that makes it desirable to live and make business there, thereby attracting partners and qualified professionals. Although countries with “branding” problems face an uphill battle changing the perception others have of it, history has shown that this is possible to do and that the rewards for those able to overcome the problems are large.
Article by Oxford Analytica, first published on Forbes
The term Nation branding is a misnomer for it suggests selling as an inconsistent activity where brand consultancies do the strap lines and go, one after the other disruptively. It is rather Total Nation Marketing as it has much to do under such a label, namely Value ignition: in terms of tourism, investment, business attraction, Reinforces the idea that what is to be sold is a Nation’s identity and Assets that are Central, Enduring and Distinctive (C.E.D),The behavior of a Nation’s citizenry is acceptable by the international community, As an eclectic approach it brings all the concerned units of a Nation brand which comprises the tourism ministry, investment agency, trade council, embassy and cultural ambassadors etc together with the view to harmonizing, that Nation brand goals be clarified, publicized, delivered and worked towards by all and sundry.
Marketing builds brands and not the other way round. A brand could be a person, place or thing, idea product or service with value that radiates influence. It consists of a name, vision, mission, values, character, personality, promise and strategy. The process of creating a brand is branding or re-positioning a brand is re-branding, it is a phase in the marketing process, it is not marketing, we market brands, we don’t brand brands, we brand or re-brand places, products, persons etc the usage branding as if it were marketing is wrong and as such be corrected. The correct term is branding and marketing, for the brand forms the controlling nucleus upon which the brand components like visual and verbal identity, marketing strategy, collaborative social responsibility, brand engagement, people service and internal culture revolve.
As systems thinkers, we believe the whole is greater than the mere summation of constituent units thus total nation marketing is a co-ordinated mix of Diaspora mobilization, internal re-orientation, public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, export marketing and destination marketing. It is our conviction that the various segments work cohesively as a whole in order that the nation’s goals are achieved. This approach is hinged on the Systems thinking timeless principles of economy of organization, effectiveness, quality maintenance, efficiency and holistic approach to problem solving. It enables the visualization of the various parts as whole rather than piecemeal. The problem with Nation brand managers be it policy advisors or marketing communicators is just like the proverbial Six blind men of Hindustan who went to feel an elephant, The first approached the elephant, and happening to fall Against his broad and sturdy side, said it was like a wall, the second, feeling of the tusk, So very round and smooth and sharp said it was like a spear, The third approached the elephant, and happening to take the squirming trunk within his hands, concluded that the elephant is like a snake, The fourth reached out an eager hand, and felt above the knee, said the elephant is like a tree. The fifth who chanced to touch the ear said, the elephant is very like a fan, the sixth felt the swinging tail said the elephant is like a rope. They all went home with bit images of the elephant instead of coming together to add up these bits into a coherent whole for proper visualization of the subject.
We realize that most cases of Nation brand underperformance are as a result of an insensitive marketing model. This is a product of over-reliance on advertising and minimal use of public relations and influx driven strategies. To this end we underscore the place of publicity and cultural diplomacy to Nation brand performance as they are capable of increasing brand’s mentions in Global media, stimulate dialogue, initiate viral marketing, cultivate EMgaging relationships, promote National interests etc
Total Nation marketing transcends traditional brand management which involves the utilisation of marketing techniques like public relations, advertising, sales promotion, touchpoint management, it draws insights from sociology, history, national identity and politics, policy, diplomacy, etc. Brand management aspects include international marketing, corporate branding and brand competitiveness, marketing communications and strategic analysis and management. It would involve anything and everything that would help improve a nation’s image especially as relates to her economic, political, diplomatic goals in the international sphere.
The term Nation branding is a misnomer for it suggests selling as an inconsistent activity where brand consultancies do the strap lines and go, one after the other disruptively. It is rather Total Nation Marketing as it has much to do under such a label, viz:
Value ignition: in terms of tourism, investment, business attraction. Reinforces the idea that what is to be sold is a Nation’s identity and Assets that are Central, Enduring and Distinctive (C.E.D) The behavior of a Nation’s citizenry is acceptable by the international community
As an eclectic approach it brings all the concerned units of a Nation brand(i.e. tourism ministry, investment agency, trade council, embassy and cultural ambassadors) together with the view to harmonizing, that Nation brand goals be clarified, publicized, delivered and worked towards by all and sundry…
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