On May 8 the key European institutions in Brussels were open to public. I took the opportunity to visit few office sites where various institutions, directorates and divisions were presenting themselves. The idea as such to connect with society is wonderful. However, its execution another year in a row showed that Europe is inefficient, complex and remains faceless.
First, there was no concept behind events. I did not get what a huge air-blown chicken and cow, biking exercises to puff up balloons and weird mutton creatures has to do with “the Schuman Declaration’s 60th anniversary” as it said on EU Parliaments press release. It was a chaotic circus. Whom did they try to talk to?
Second, there was no clear message sent to visitors on what is Europe and what actually these institutions do. Well, they kind of talked on what they do, but not what has been achieved, what are concrete actions and future ambitions. Where is Europe heading to and how citizens of Europe can participate in it? For example, did you know that Year 2010 has been announced to combat poverty and social exclusion? This initiative had a fashionably design stand that made a plain statement with no real initiative for a discussion with people to tackle the problem.
Third, no concept and no clear message lead to no branding. I will leave this short, as first you need a sharp strategic vision (on brand Europe as such) and then work on a sound roll out plan for the brand and identity that also includes synchronized and efficient visual materials that tell an integrated story. Europe has nothing on that.
Fourth, no vision of communication leads to waste of resources. The event showed that EU bureaucrats have little understanding of positioning, market segmentation, message differentiation and target group understanding. To give you one example, it was shocking to see tons of paper wasted on ridiculous brochures and leaflets. Who reads them? Paper has a totally different role today than to be wasted like this. I suggest that next time they spend all this energy and resources creating meaningful books (there are plenty of subjects: art, culture, science and so on) for kids who really need them.
Fifth, no brand vision leads to waste of time and human resources. The most horrifying is to realize that endless hours of hundreds of people have been wasted on meetings, irrelevant material development, typing and re-typing, pleasing dull comments and so on.
Of course, on the individual level there were some well-thought ideas, for example, the science stand at the commission was engaging kinds with practical engineering type games. But what’s in there for adults? Just that their kids are entertained? Biodiversity village was well executed, practical and well looked after. The development stand was standing out on its size, well-designed materials (some of them even digital) and passionate youngsters giving presentations. But wasn’t it bit too flashy and way too theoretical?
Strong brands have a purpose. Strong brands create a value. Europe needs a serious wake-up call for re-branding exercise and to revamp its communication model.