Sports: Another factor of substantial importance which plays an active role in nation branding is how the country portrays itself in various sports. Before we look in to the aspects of this, excerpts from the recent interview with Mr Simon Anholt, the brilliantly caustic, not conventions driven and outspoken nation branding (or as he prefers, ‘policy advisor’) expert, by Germany’s Deutschland Magazine about the relationship between sports and nation branding and sportsmen and nation brands only weeks ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa is given below in brief.
This presents an insight in to the nation branding as a whole and in to the Sports domain as a measure of enhancing the brand nation. Mr. Anholt, you are recognized the world over as the leading expert on a concept referred to as “nation branding”. In the world of marketing, the Nation Brands Index (NBI) is equally loved and feared. Why has nation branding become so important in the age of globalization? I hope that the “Nation Brands Index” isn’t loved or feared in the world of marketing, since it has almost nothing to do with the world of marketing!
The index is produced for the benefit of national governments that wish to track their national standing and profile. As I have explained many, many times in my books and articles, this is not a marketing discipline: there is absolutely no evidence that countries can alter their international images through marketing communications, and many of them continue to waste enormous sums of their taxpayers’ money every year in futile propaganda campaigns in press and television, without any indication whatsoever that this can succed in changing anybody’s mind.
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Countries are judged by what they do and what they make, not by what they say. I don’t, therefore, believe in nation branding: it’s a false and dangerous idea. Nations have brands – in the sense that they have images – and those images are absolutely important to their progress and prosperity in the modern world. Countries with a powerful and positive image can export more products, more culture, more people, more services and attract more tourists, more investors, more immigrants and the attention and respect of other governments.
Countries with weak or damaged images find it much harder and more expensive to achieve all of these goals. That’s why it is so important. I repeat: countries have brands, but they can’t be branded. Only new policies, new investments and innovations can change the image of a country – and it takes a very long time. You use your own methodology in your research. In short, how do you actually obtain your results? In partnership with GfK Roper, one of the world’s largest market research companies, we poll around 20,000 people in 20 countries, and ask them about 50 questions to measure their perceptions of 50 different countries.
These questions include asking whether people think the country has a beautiful landscape, friendly people, good products, vibrant modern culture, whether its government respects human rights and free speech, contributes to the environment and poverty reduction, whether the country’s economy is strong or weak, whether they would like to visit the country as a tourist or to live and work and study there, and much else besides. These scores are then averaged to create a series of rankings whereby each country’s image can be directly measured against that of the other 49 countries.
Admittedly, this is not your particular area of research, but can you see a connection between sports and nation branding? Indeed it is part of my area of research, and it’s one of the questions we ask in the “culture” section of the Nation Brands Index. I have written many times about the connection between major sporting events and a country’s image, and what makes the difference between a successful Olympics or World Cup, and one that’s forgotten within a few months. I have also researched in great detail how perceptions of a country’s sporting excellence contribute to people’s perceptions of the country’s population.
The connection is a very strong one. Hosting the 2006 Soccer World Cup catapulted Germany to the top of the NBI in 2007 and 2008 … Yes indeed, but as I predicted, the effect didn’t last very long. Enhancing a country’s image is a relay race, not a sprint, and countries need to become obsessive about asking themselves “What do we do next? ” Germany hasn’t followed up on its World Cup success, so people are starting to revert to their previous beliefs about the country. This always happens and it can only be prevented by projecting a constant, unbroken stream of dramatic evidence that the country deserves the reputation it desires.
Even in countries where Germany did not previously enjoy a great reputation, the country’s image was massively enhanced after what has gone down in the history books as “Germany’s summer fairytale”. Does this mean that some elements of the “brand essence” are in fact very volatile, in other words, nice weather, high spirits, exciting matches is all it takes to change an image? Is it really that simple? No, they really aren’t volatile at all: quite the contrary. National image is more like a fixed asset than a liquid capital, and normally can’t be changed at all.
Nothing could be more difficult than changing any of these attributes. I have great respect for the way in which Germany managed to “move the needle” on its image during the World Cup, in exactly the way it wanted to, but it hasn’t been able to make this sustainable. One must distinguish between public opinion – which can change almost literally by the minute – and national image, which is virtually fixed. What is Germany’s sporting reputation at the international level? Extremely positive. In 2009, Germany ranked 2nd in the world on the “sport” dimension, after the USA.
Almost all the countries in the study gave it a 2nd or 3rd place ranking on this dimension, apart from the “Anglo-Sphere”: the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa ranked Germany around 5th or 6th, as did Egypt and Japan. What can athletes and sports associations do specifically to contribute to nation branding? I am thinking along the lines of jerseys and tracksuits. There are dozens of different sports whose national teams represent Germany internationally. Should they have a more striking appearance by wearing the national colours black, red and gold?
What would be ideal from the point of view of successful nation branding? Things like this play such a very peripheral role in something as vast as the image of a country that I think it’s hardly worth thinking about it. If a country regularly wins events, especially in high-profile events like football and (Olympic) athletics, year after year, then it will gain a positive reputation for sporting prowess. This is why the USA, Russia, China, Germany, Italy, Brazil, France and the UK are always at the top of the index for this dimension.
In just a few weeks the sporting world will be looking to South Africa for the first World Cup ever to be hosted on the African continent. How will this impact on the country’s image? It entirely depends on how they use the event. Some countries are highly successful at using their hosting to present a picture of their country which captures the public imagination – like Australia and Barcelona did in their Olympics, for example – while others put on highly successful events which don’t really tell a story and are quickly forgotten, such as Athens.
It’s more than just whether the event is well organized, trouble-free, spectacular, or not: it’s about whether this huge media opportunity is used in the right way to project something true, something relevant and something unforgettable about the host nation. Are you a football fan? No. I was put off all sports at a very early age because I was very bad at them. The above interview with Mr Simon Anholt gave a telescopic view in to the subject of nation branding and the possibilities of Sports to act as a major brand driver.
In the following text we would look at some live examples where countries like Denmark did an exceptional work with branding by Sports. Denmark brands itself with sports There are 99 ways to skin a cat, and some more to brand a nation. Sports is just another one to do so. A specific country, in this case, Denmark, is including sports and sports events within its nation branding agenda. “Sports events today are much more than a sports competition. They are an experience for the athletes and participants – and for the tv-viewers at home.
They are a tool to attract visitors to a country. They are a catalyst for social development and communication of values”, says Lars Lundov, photographed above. Mr. Lundov is the CEO of “Sport Event Denmark”, the Danish organisation providing support for the organization of sport events in the country. Sport Event Denmark pays approx. 50% of all costs of the sport events being organized in Denmark, while the other half is paid by the host city and the national federation organising the event. Sport Event Denmark and its activities are not an independent endeavour.
On the contrary: its funding is done through a Denmark’s nation branding action plan. Through this strategic approach, Denmark showcases itself not only as an ideal sport host, but more importantly as a creative nation, a tourist destination, a study destination and an investment location. “We believe that sports events can have a great impact on the success of the national plan and have therefore developed a campaign called “Inviting the World of Sport” where we focus on branding different Danish values through sport events taking place in Denmark.
This whole area of sports events and nation branding – or perhaps we should call it place branding – is something we think will become increasingly important in the future,” says Lundov. In 2009 more than 50 major international sports events were taking place all over Denmark, including the IOC Olympic Session and the Olympic Congress. The World Taekwondo Championships, the UEFA Congress, the World Wrestling Championships and the LEN Congress were also among the many events taking place in Denmark. Laws
The laws, regulations and policies of a nation drive the image of the nation to the entire world. Whereas international laws circumventing the various national and global issues like foreign trade agreements, health issues, environmental control etc plays a major role to portray this image some very trivial issues can also serve the purpose in a major way. One such issue at hand is the portrayal of nation image through the Airlines industry that bring forth the originating nation through its flights around the world.
Airline companies as nation branding ambassadors: If there is a business market in which competing companies have traditionally been linked to their country of origin in an intrinsic, almost organic sense that would be the airline sector. For historical reasons, the national origin has often been very explicit in national carriers. Earlier, most airline companies were created by the State and consequently distilled a sense of national pride. It would be the Government to implement the first airline carriers in the country. In fact, for many years no nation could graduate as a ‘real’ country unless it had its own national carrier.
For instance, the recently self-declared state of Kosovo hasn’t secured its independence yet, but it has already founded its own, brand new national carrier, Kosovo Airlines. Today, however, due to the advent of competitive markets, most of the new carriers are private-held companies, and many of them deliberately lack a specific national identity. They have been designed to be global brands from the start off, and most of them are, exceptions aside, country-neutral, at least in a significant portion of their brand identity. But the introduction of the private sector oesn’t lead to the extinction of the old state run airline carriers. The old, veteran State-funded companies are still surfing the skies, making us recall the times when a bigger aircraft told a story of a bigger economic muscle of its country of origin. These airline fleets were not only a series of planes but also had a national meaning and showcased a country’s industrial strength. Lufthansa’s impressive aircrafts said something about Germany’s engineering might, while SAS told the story of the Scandinavian sense of uncomplicated Nordic togetherness, cooperativeness and cool practicality.
Still today, nationally-branded airline companies have a role as nation branding ambassadors. Just think about Singapore Airlines, the awarded company that speaks for Singapore and represents in an obvious manner the aimed welcoming and exquisite human touch of the country. This carrier has risen to the status of an admired service brand internationally. Or think about Fly Emirates which is not only an Arab carrier, but the Emirates is a country too. This carrier has probably made more for the United Arab Emirates than any advertising campaign.
The key aspect of the airline expenses is the fuel surcharge and other service taxes. The fuel price for airline services is controlled by the Government, moreover there are various other levies and taxes involved which shoot the price of the airline tickets. If the government can manage this price and tax rates, it will be very beneficial for the airline industry to increase its count of airline fleet in foreign countries which will ultimately contribute to the well being of the nation brand.
Nationally un-branded airlines: While the strong and intimate relationship between a national carrier and its country of origin can’t be denied, it’s also true that there are exceptions too. These kinds of exceptions occur when the carrier’s name, brand colours or logo have no obvious visual relationship with the country it hails from and itself forms an independent identity. For instance, no one could guess that TAM Airlines is Brazil’s largest carrier, that LAN is the principal Chilean airline; that Avianca aircrafts come from Colombia or Conviasa from Venezuela.
On a similar note, in Europe, it’s a bit hard to guess that airline brand Olympic Air comes from Greece, JAT from Serbia or Adria Airways from Slovenia. Mostly the private sector airlines follow this character. Except for Brazil, the lack of an obvious relationship between the carrier and the nation, however, has little effect as these small to medium countries usually have small fleets and the potential nation branding effect they miss is also small thereafter.
But there is one country located on Europe’s Northern coast that hasn’t reaped the benefits of having a truly leading airline brand, Netherlands. Because everybody knows that British Airways comes from Britain, Air France from France, former Swissair from Switzerland and even the obscurely-named Lufthansa from Germany (even if it’s only because the name sounds so similar to the more famous Luftwaffe), but how many people knows KLM is actually Dutch?
The Dutch carrier’s look and feel has nothing Dutch in it – it does not have the colors of the flag, let alone the Netherlands’ trademark orange, which is almost a Dutch-proprietary color and the color that represents the country best. Absolutely no clue to let people know that great airline they appreciate and respct is actualy a Dutch company. KLM is the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name and one of the most awarded ones, but its country of origin is downplayed to almost zero, so the Netherlands get no brand equity back at all.
Another country with some remarkable inconsistencies regarding its nation brand visuals is Australia. Australia’s national carrier is called Qantas and it’s the world’s second oldest airline and is consistently considered to be among the top-ten best airlines in the world, but while Australia’s flag is red, white and blue and Aussies run around in green and gold, Qantas goes its own direction ignoring both of these color sets.
As in the KLM case, the Qantas name has no evident link to its country of origin in its name, but at least the Austral airline has a kangaroo on a red background on its logo to give a clue about its nationality. In both cases, these two countries would need their national airlines to have a more cohesive “national” look to enhance image, raise awareness, sharpen impact and strengthen mindshare – and it’s certainly a pity they let pass the wonderful nation branding opportunity that national carriers are.
Using national carriers to brand the nation: On the opposite corner of the ring, Singapore uses Singapore Airlines as a representative of its national culture, values and character. Same goes for Air India and earlier independently existing Indian Airlines which vehemently suggested their countries of origin. As mentioned above, Singapore as a country brand leverages on the fact that its national carrier has built up a strong brand in terms of service excellence to nurture, by natural extension, the country’s image as one of service excellence.
In a very similar way, Germany and Lufthansa feed each other with a mutually supportive, bi-directional flow of brand equity around efficiency; reliability and uncompromised seriousness, just like Britain and British Airways exchange with each other their reputation of being the undisputable champions of punctuality and heritage. On the contrary, countries should be more creative and inventive and devise new ways to use their national carriers to speak about themselves, to say something about their countries.
Only through this way will the nation branding be strongly displayed and conveyed to the rest of the world. Greece’s image into the storm If we are talking about Governmental laws and national economy, one good example that has recently popped up is that of Greece which is going through a major economic downturn, Like Iceland, Dubai, Latvia and a few others before, the relatively small country of Greece has been on the eye of an economic storm recently. Its economy has been put in doubt, its stats have been questioned, and the nation as a whole has been given a cold shower of realism and humility.
Greece is facing a major, world-scale credibility crisis, and that has its effect on Greece’s overall image, i. e. Brand Greece. Brand Greece may stay strong on some soft aspects like tourism, history and culture, but it is probably suffering a measurable decline on all economy and business facets following the hedge funds turmoil. Greece is yet to go through the storm, and it won’t be easy, but countries which have gone through it are now starting to re-brand themselves (we had earlier mentioned the need of countries in a similar position to Greece such as Ireland or Dubai to re-think themselves).
Iceland, for instance, is planning to become a global haven for freedom of speech. Re-branding is a strategy which plays an important role soon after a nation has gone through hard times and need to come back standing straight on its foundations with no more delay. The Nordic country has abandoned its ambition to transform itself from a country heavily dependent upon fishing into a financial powerhouse, after its plans went up in smoke after the 2008 credit crunch, and is now looking for another ways to position itself in the new, post-meltdown scenario.
It’s not a completely new phenomenon of an economic downturn. Many countries have faced and recovered from such hard times, who then serve as the learning module for the other countries going through the crunch. As for example, Iceland intends now to become a bastion for global press freedom under a package of laws proposed by opposition MPs to defend freedom of speech, and protect sources and fight libel tourism. The initiative has been met with enthusiasm, the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative website claims.
Some will say there are ’speculators’ behind the attacks against Greece, and there are many of them of course, but the Greeks alone are responsible for having made their country’s economy vaporous, for turning the economic weaknesses into candy for speculators, for having clienteles at all levels of the country’s State apparatus and for having a gigantic, inefficient and absurd Public Sector, among many other economic sins. On top of that, it turns out now that they have been consistently delivering false statistics to Brussels. This is probably the most humiliating part.
It seems that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou (pictured above, between Merkel and Sarkozy) is taking valiant measures, and that some of these measures, however harsh they might be, are gaining qualified support by Greeks. A recent survey showed that Greeks, after watching their prime minister speaking on TV, are at last very concerned about the state of the economy, and that they support the Prime Minister’s plans to cut the supplementary pay of public servants, to freeze hiring in the civil service and to rule out any pay hikes for bureaucrats for the time being.
Of course, there are the large numbers of strikers too. If Greece makes things properly, this crisis could be a great chance for the country to change for good. The country, the nation and the state really need to re-think, re-design and re-activate themselves. Additionally, it could be an opportunity to show off that the Greeks’ registered trademark for resisting and overcoming major natural and human disasters is still a reality in Greece.
The strength necessary to keep the country alive for 4,000 years, the commercial prowess of the Greeks, the legacy of democracy, humanism, arts and logic, the love for freedom, the impressive shipping industry – these are the things Greeks should be known for, not the other ones. Branding Iraq If there is a country in the world in a real, dire need of being recast, that must be Iraq. Think about Iraq and images of patrolling American soldiers, bomb cars exploding and killing dozens, massive oil excavations and the internal conflicts between Shiites and the Sunnites come to mind.
But Iraq does not merely have an image crisis; it has a complete identity breakdown. It is not a nation, nor a country, not even a State. It must be completely re-constructed, and that means that in its image and reputation facet, absolutely everything is waiting to be done. In fact, the makeover of Iraq must surely be the most difficult undertaking a national branding task force can face, as the society is so divided and the public infrastructure so ruined.
The decades of the asphyxiating Saddam Hussein’s regime, with its complete disconnection from the rest of the world have left a country with virtually no tourism, inexistent public diplomacy, absent stand or role in the international affairs, lacking culture and no economic relationship with any country other than the export of oil. At first sight, there are certainly no obvious foundations for building the identity of the country. But as happens more often than not, great problems always set the chance for great solutions. Nation branding in Iraq is an enormous endeavour, but a possible one.
History, for instance, can provide inspiration, as archaeologists remind us that Iraq was once the cradle of many cultures, from the Akkadians to the Assyrians and from the Babylonians to the Parthians, not forgetting the Sassanid and the Abbasid empires. It was in Iraq that one of the first bodies of laws in human history, the Hammurabi’s code, was crafted. In reality, even Saddam Hussein himself can provide an opportunity, because no color makes white more white than black does. An example of this power of contrasts can be seen in Spain.
Spanish officials were smart enough not to hide its Franco past, but rather use it to remark the sharp contrast between the old and the new Spain. The worse the Francoist regime appeared, the better the new Spain looked – and this stark contrast made the image of the new Spain more modern and forward-looking. In a perverse similar sense, Saddam Hussein is a gift to any political leader to rule over Iraq – he will look great in all comparisons no matter how bad he or she may be. In the same direction, all progress in Iraq will look more mpressive in the world’s eyes than the same progress in any other country. Another advantage that Iraqis can count on if they are serious about recasting their country is the mass media coverage. The fact that Iraq has been for so much time in our TV screens has put Iraq in the world map, a luxury most third-world countries will never have. People know very well what Iraq is and where it is, after years of hitting headlines on papers and TV screens, with hundreds of thousands of maps being printed and broadcasted about events occurring in the country.
This pre-existing knowledge is a valuable asset, and as such an asset any nation branding campaign for Iraq should capitalize on. Moreover, the fact that Iraq has been in the limelight for so many years also means that any initiative taken in Iraq will hit the news with greater probability than the same initiative hailing from Egypt or Thailand or Uruguay, because people is naturally more inclined to follow the Iraqi drama’s epilogue than start to follow stories from countries they have never had any previous contact with.
Iraq should be able to manage the interest that the disgraceful wars have attracted for its own benefit. Using this mass-media attention, Iraq is better positioned to smoothly change the usual tragic images with more appealing scenes – and the world will probably watch these changes with interest. But in order to fulfil this change of image, Iraq must not rely on casual changes or progresses, but follow a strategic identity plan. And the time is now for developing it, just as the country enters a new phase.
For that, Iraqis must first enter a debate to re-think themselves, in order to determine what they aspire to, what role should their country play in the world, what should it stand for. Iraq must search within its collective soul and find the compelling, resonant and differentiating truths about itself, and then make those attributes more relevant to the audiences Iraqis need to reach. While we have seen a broad spectrum of how laws and economy has a part to affect the brand image of a nation, we also saw some live examples about the countries are using it.
Besides that nations like Iraq and Greece on two different aspects can work out their strategy to re-brand themselves. Science Science in its various forms can sometimes be the sole drivers of the nations brand image, through scientific endeavours, hi-tech innovations, scientific research and inventions etc. Science as a medium of education is also appealing to draw the image of a country. Countries like USA, Canada, UK, Switzerland etc are a major hit among the foreign students and academicians and these opportunities attract the masses from all over the world.
We would see some examples on how some countries ponders on this factor for branding the nations. Re-branding Latin America and the Caribbean: Through deals, diplomacy and promotion, Latin America and the Caribbean have begun to cast aside outdated conceptions and reposition the region as one not just open for business but also good at business. A late-20th century description of the countries south of the United States might well have been laden with stereotypes ranging from fun-in-the-sun to drug-fueled violence and waning guerrilla warfare, with a heavy dose of financial chaos triggered by inflation, debt defaults and devaluations.
Fast-forward 10 years and the region is showing signs of new stature and respect. Big Brazilian and Mexican multinationals are buying up American companies. Many South American economies are emerging faster and healthier from the global financial crisis than European nations and the United States. Trade and tourism officials are trekking to international business gatherings to pitch their wares – sophisticated software and technology included – and their sights, which may include former no man’s land turned vacation spot. A big problem that destinations have today, particularly Latin American destinations, is that they are promoting themselves in exactly the same way: ‘we are green, we are friendly’,” said Rice, who has worked on Latin American branding campaigns for more than a decade. The challenge is for a country to identify its comparative advantage, she counsels. “No country has the budget to be able to promote itself in all countries, with all products, at the same time,” she said. To change a national image, Mr Simon Anholt said, requires showing others why the nation is important. If you really want people to respect you outside your own borders, you need to do things that people will appreciate,” he said. “Do something admirable. Help solve climate change. Help children’s education. ” Anholt does support marketing travel. “Tourism promotion is quite different,” Anholt told Latin Trade. “You are selling a product. ” Just as master commercial marketers know the power of instant recognition and associations with brand names like Coca-Cola or Chiquita, an imprimatur like “German engineering” or “Made in the USA” can boost exports, investment and tourism. In 2009, world citizens ranked Brand America No. 1.
For Latin America and the Caribbean, nation branding has been part splash and part slow, steady work. Countries like Uruguay and Colombia have embarked on active branding campaigns; others like Chile and Brazil started down a road of deliberate economic and political reforms years ago. Others, such as Jamaica or Haiti, are still trying to envision how a unique stamp can translate into product placement or tourist destinations. But it is hard to find a country where business and the government are standing still. To be sure, the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean still face big problems, from crime to poverty and inequality.
Yet in a world where the most industrialized countries are struggling with slow growth, financial difficulties and high unemployment, the region features bright spots. Brazil’s Itau-Unibanco has a higher market capitalization than America’s too-big-to-fail financial institutions. Banamex, Citi’s Mexico unit, is one of its golden profit-centers. And in a final seal of approval, Brazil – not Chicago – will host the 2016 Summer Olympics. It is not a bad time to be Latin America Inc. Labels can be influential: Consider the connotation of “Third World” country versus “emerging market. Nevertheless, experts agree that nation branding is more than just packaging. “You can’t confuse the sizzle and the steak,” said Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington. While a campaign can pound away at a motif – and help transform perceptions – the events and actions underlying the message make a difference to people at home and abroad. And time does not conflate. “Nations find it very difficult to win a new reputation or lose an old one. It takes a long time,” Birns observed. Colombia is one country on the slow path to shedding its past reputation.
Once disparaged as the kidnapping capital of the world, Colombia now markets itself as a destination for tourism and international conventions. The private sector touted its products in a “Colombia: The Heart of Opportunities” campaign, whose initiatives encompassed a Colombia, North America and Caribbean Business Matchmaking Forum in Miami in November. A big event can underscore a transformation. Medellin – once the center of cocaine trafficking – hosted the Inter-American Development Bank annual meeting in March 2009 and was able to show off new schools, libraries, a modern metro system and science and art museums. We have a long way to go,” acknowledged Trade and Tourism Minister Luis Guillermo Plata during the Miami matchmaking forum in which nearly 400 Colombian companies participated. “But we are happy that people begin to look at Colombia differently, as a success story, a turnaround story and not a failure story. ” “A country that seemed practically non-viable six or seven years ago has managed to dramatically lower its level of violence,” Plata said. He cited statistics that indicated exports have more than tripled, to $37. 5 billion, and annual investment has grown in leaps, from $1. 5 billion to a much as $9 billion.
For other countries, the changes have come in slower motion. A popular Brazilian expression summed up that country’s one-time image problem. “Brazil is the country of the future – and always will be. ” Contemporary Brazil is the “now nation. ” When the International Olympic Committee chose Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Summer Olympics Games, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva basked in the accolades. It remains to be seen how Brazil will take advantage of the spotlight that China leveraged during the 2008 games to rebrand itself as a modern global superpower, according to Asia expert Orville Schell.
Thanks to improved financial management, a more activist role in trade talks, strategic lending by the Brazilian Development Bank and the good fortune of being a commodities powerhouse, Brazil has created a solid economic base. Steelmaker Gerdau, mining company Vale, aircraft maker Embraer and meatpacking company JBS SA are among the largest companies in the world, even buying up American firms. Brazil is a member of the G-20 group of leading industrialized and emerging nations. Many observers see a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council in its future. Brazil is becoming popular now around the world,” said Roberto Setubal, CEO of Itau-Unibanco. “But the policy steps that we are taking on the economic front are basically the same for more than 10 years. ” Latin American nations have frequently used trade and investment agreements as a rebranding opportunity. Speaking to members of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce before signing the U. S. -Peru Trade Promotion Agreement in December 2007, Peruvian President Alan Garcia made the frank pitch. “Come and open your factories in my country so we can sell your own products back to the United States,” Garcia said.
But even before, Peru made a name in high-end alpaca and Pima cotton apparel manufacturing . The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement helped give Mexico an image makeover. Mexico’s president at the time, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, viewed the accord as a development and rebranding strategy. “We want to be part of the First World,” Salinas said during the negotiations. For Mexico, the accord with the United States and Canada provided numerous entries into the developed world. Trade with its two northern neighbors boomed.
Mexico became a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the G-20. However, once Mexico had NAFTA, other countries moved quickly to sign similar trade accords and pushed through economic changes that quickly leveled the playing field.? Mexico’s experience is a lesson on how countries must keep reforming if they want to reinforce the nation brand. The country formed a trade and investment promotion agency, ProMexico, in mid-2007. It now has staff in 30 offices in 21 countries working to integrate Mexico better into the global economy. Getting the positive news out can be hard.
Violence related to President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa’s war on drug trafficking and organized crime dominated news coverage until the outbreak of H1N1 “swine” flu grabbed headlines and gripped the public’s imagination around the world. Burson-Marsteller’s Rice said Mexico missed an opportunity. “H1N1 was the perfect vehicle for Mexico to communicate the good way they handled that situation,” she said. “I don’t think that message was communicated effectively. ” Some small countries, like Jamaica, have international reputations derived from their culture and tourism base. Others struggle for recognition.
Take the example of Uruguay, which has received loans and funds from the United Nations, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Union and others to finance its branding efforts. “We are a small country between two giants and we are not very well known,” said Roberto Bennett, executive director of Uruguay XXI, the country’s investment and export promotion agency that has been working with Burson-Marsteller in Miami. “We don’t have jungles, we don’t have mountains,” Bennett said. “What we try to stress as a country label is legal stability, clear rules of the game, democracy, [along with] education, competitiveness. Bennett said differentiating Uruguay from its neighbors is a challenge. Many of the countries in the region are also working together through Red Ibero, an association of organizations promoting trade. “We exchange ideas and knowledge,” Bennett said. Red Ibero receives funding from the Inter-American Development Bank, which recently began to assist some countries with national marketing as part of trade-promotion efforts. The strategy includes regional branding initiatives. To that end, Uruguay attended the annual investment and trade show in China in a joint effort with Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Colombia.
Branding alone is insufficient to foster trade and investment, experts agree. “It’s not a panacea,” said Fabrizio Opertti, senior integration and trade specialist in the IDB’s trade promotion and outreach office. Countries must improve the business climate, invest in education and carry out other reforms as part of their efforts to compete. In other words, Latin America Inc. needs to serve up a good steak along with the sizzle. Branding Switzerland: At Presence. ch, the Swiss have a nice website with materials explaining Switzerland’s efforts to mantain and enhance its nation brand.
One of the them is this article and graphic about Switzerland’s key elements of its national brand: The 14 key elements are as follows:
1. Alpine living space: Few landscapes evoke such strong associations in Europe and beyond as the Swiss Alps. Switzerland and the Alps have always been regarded as synonymous. But even more important than the mountains themselves are the Alpine environment and its characteristic features, the result of the interaction between nature and the labour of human beings.
2. Its people: It is only through its people that Swiss history, values and achievements become alive and tangible.
Swiss men and women have made the efficient, connecting ’system’ into an organic community of independent human beings for whom their personal self-determination and unity in diversity are the highest values. They make Swiss achievements into something tangible and therefore personally relevant.
3. The Swiss Cross, colours red and white: Switzerland has an unmistakable and widely known symbol – the Swiss flag, a combination of the cross and the colours red and white. It is a powerful instrument and if used correctly can have a powerful impact.
It can create a subtle emphasis or it can “sell” effectively. It guarantees recognition and embodies strength and uniqueness. This is why it must be the symbol for Switzerland.
4. Stability (sustainability): Switzerland stands for stability. The foundation for this is Switzerland’s political and economic system with its strong emphasis on the reconciliation of differences. Switzerland is not usually a trail-blazer but this in turn means that the solutions found here are stable and sustainable. This stability is highly relevant and distinctive in all target groups.
5.Secure future: Stability and sustainability bring a high degree of predictability and reliability. The ingenious system of rules and conventions on which this is based brings a high degree of future security for the individual and for society as a whole. This is both unique and attractive in the modern world.
6. Balance: More than almost any other country, Switzerland has succeeded in bringing ostensible opposites together and in reconciling great differences to produce fruitful cooperation. It is not diversity in itself but the way that diversity is dealt with that is special.
This determination to connect and to reconcile differences makes a key contribution to the stability and the secure future of Switzerland.
7. International hub: Geneva is the humanitarian capital of the world. Companies are increasingly moving their headquarters to Switzerland, every year the WEF in Davos brings together opinionleaders and decision makers from the worlds of politics, business and science. During Art Basel the city becomes an international art metropolis.
8. Self-determination: The origin of Switzerland is associated with a myth of freedom and today Switzerland is one of the most democratic countries in the world.
Personal as well as national self-determination are important components of Swiss identity, the cornerstones of which are direct democracy, federalism, the principle of subsidiarity and a low ratio of state expenditure.
9. Efficiency: Directness is greatly appreciated in Switzerland. Roundabout routes and irrelevant details have no place in the Swiss system. This feature is most conspicuous in the federal form of government but it is also evident in the economy, architecture and design. Efficiency is a characteristic quality that runs through all areas.
10. Authentic: Switzerland is unique. As a result of geographical and socio-cultural aspects, Switzerland has many inimitable features and characteristics. This combination of uniqueness with modesty and discretion means that there is no scope for flashy display or artificiality. Showiness is shunned and authenticity is the keyword.
11. Trustworthy: Trust presupposes performance, quality, transparency and stability and is based on consistency. Switzerland embodies reliability and stability – qualities that are crucial in many areas of life.
12. Quietly superior: Products and services from Switzerland are notable for their outstanding quality. This quality is based on the constant striving for better and more efficient solutions in all sectors. Swiss quality is not showily displayed but is allowed to speak for itself.
13. Curious: A small country without resources of its own can compete internationally only through the quality of its products and services. This culture of quality is marked by meticulousness, constant efforts to improve and above all by the tradition of curiosity of the people who live here.
14. Refreshing: Freshness is typical of this country and its people. The Alpine environment with ist high mountains, clear lakes and rivers refreshes the spirit of visitors. The people who live here are uncomplicated and direct. A fresh approach is also typical of artists who live here, for example the unusual perspectives of Fischli / Weiss or the playful and effervescent installations of Pipilotti Rist. Switzerland – a very powerful brand: Switzerland is in the happy position of not being unknown.
Rather, thanks to strong but positive cliches such as its beautiful landscape, watches, chocolate as well as its reputation for valuing high quality and reliability, it already has a well-defined profile in the community of nations. The associations people make with our country have taken decades to form and are undergoing a constant process of development. Other factors contributing to our image include our government, international organisations such as the Red Cross, and internationally active companies such as Roche with its product ‘Tamiflu’, as well as top sportspeople such as Roger Federer and the Alinghi team.
It is easy to see that a country’s image cannot be controlled and modelled to the same extent as that of a consumer product. A country is not homogeneous item like Coca Cola. According to Simon Anholt, one of the leading experts in image marketing for countries, the ‘Switzerland brand’ is one of the strongest and most influential in the world. All the same, it would be wrong to assume that once a good image is achieved it sticks. Negative events and reports, which inevitably happen, leave traces. On the one hand it takes the need to oster our values, and on the other the constant and sustained outreach to target groups and networks that are important for Switzerland. This is precisely what Presence Switzerland does. PRS (Presence Switzerland) ensures that Switzerland maintains a credible and authentic image through all the various activities that it initiates and co-ordinates abroad. Not only they highlight the traditional Swiss strengths in the areas of the quality of life, governance, and environmental friendliness, they also promote lesser known aspects of Switzerland such as the innovative spirit, the education system, direct democracy and science and technology.
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