A concept of nation branding is relatively new. It says that a country’s reputation can be built and managed just like any other brand. In a nutshell, brands are built on a proposition, attributes and behavioural manners. The role of brands is to create a new meaning in products, experiences and services.
The critics of a nation-branding concept are questioning whether a country can be sold the same way as products. This argument might be caused by inflexibility to expand horizons of conceptual thinking.
A field of nation branding is little more advanced. An identity of a country is built on a complex set of attributes. It embraces products, politics, foreign and internal affairs, experiences, economy, exports, arts, entertainment, music, culture heritage, national identity, future vision, both local and international events, design, sports, stories, myth, news headlines, social participation, education and much more. In a way, nation branding can become a handy topic for certain consultants, as there is no end for a dialogue; a nation branding is a continuous, never stopping and extensive journey.
I view a nation branding as a collective effort and ability to create a stimulating environment that fosters development of many (across different categories, sectors and areas) super strong and meaningful brands that at the end come together, fuse and form a nation’s brand. It means, that a strong internal culture is at the core of a brand.
During last two weeks I have come across 3 inspiring cases (New Zealand, Iceland and Latvia) that contribute to a nation branding. There is one common thing to these three examples: it’s all about people and individuals who drive a difference. I am not claiming that these single activities instantly will solve their entire nation branding issues. However, what they do for sure is leading by example and inviting other fellow citizens to create a new value and endorse their nation at the best everyone can.
(1) NEW ZEALAND
People at Kea, New Zealand’s global network; have launched The Pass It On initiative by developing a platform that serves as a starting point for diverse conversations about New Zealand and turn expat Kiwis into even more passionate ambassadors for their country. The people behind the initiative have said there is much more to the country than usual communication metaphors of beautiful scenery, sailing and the All Blacks. The Pass It On website features short videos focusing on the best and most exciting events and innovative companies in New Zealand.
This initiative is fantastic in many ways.
First, it’s an initiative by a group of people who care about the country’s reputation and awareness globally and unites New Zealander’s living abroad.
Second, it is a helpful tool for New Zealanders themselves to find out latest cutting edge news and stories.
Third, it has diverse and rich content that tells stories about people.
Fourth, the platform is wide reaching.
Fifth, it’s a new approach to present a country.
Iceland has launched a campaign “Inspired by Iceland” that invites anyone to visit the country. The fascinating thing about this campaign is that it transmits absolute unity.
The president’s speech is unique, human and touching. It does not happen too often when advertising countries to make it look and feel in authentic and believable way. Yoko Ono is inviting to celebrate John Lennon’s 70th birthday in Iceland on October 9th. Rene Redzepi, the chef and co-owner of Noma – world’s best restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark – is cherishing a fresh catch of Icelandic salmon. Bjork is sending out a message to her Twitter followers and Facebook fans saying “A message from Iceland – please share this with your friends in your country to let the world know that everything is ok in Iceland”. And there are many more people who share their stories on Iceland.
By rolling out this initiative Iceland not only have demonstrated a uniting and continues approach of building their brand, but also paving a way to overcome turbulent times in their economy. Well done!
Just like for Iceland, last 18 months have also been turbulent for Latvia’s economy. Yet, it was not an obstacle for courageous and adventurous people from Aerodium, a world-leading manufacturer of vertical wind tunnels, to take a challenge of an impossible mission to develop and build Latvia’s pavilion in Shanghai Expo 2010 just in 5 months period.
The Technology of Happiness is the concept that presents Latvia at Shanghai Expo 2010. It involves the skydiving experience in the 8m high glass wind tunnel with impressive light and sound effects.
This is a fresh and unexpected way to present a country. A nation branding moves into another level – the experience and excitement, that tells a story of innovation and strong passion for achievement. Visit the pavilion in Shanghai, meet the team, enjoy the show and you will experience that it all sparks enthusiasm and inspiration.