Branding a Country | The Hidden Opportunities | Part One

Branding a Country

The Hidden Opportunities  . . .

By : Bilal Zaiter

In a shortcuts world, where we have a great tendency to shortcut everything, from computer key strokes to human relations, identities go the same experience. -France: ”Chic & revolutionary, where the smart money goes”- Italy: ”Opera, football and pizza”-Spain: “Nature, special music, and everything under the sun”, Japan: ”Technology, design and the samurai”, Colombia “Coffee”, Malaysia “Truly Asia.”, UK : “Quality Education”

Countries want to prove themselves, and they strive so competitively to do this. The Reason ? to generate more money, enjoy more international influence, and increase their self- esteem. Throughout history countries had strived to prove themselves, through wars, trades, or intellectual property and humanitarian contributions .

And because ” Branding ” is about smart influence, it is so interesting how countries in the contemporary history apply same concepts of perceptions’ management to prove and promote themselves . Image and reputation are a must in today’s world . As for countries to win ( positive ) attention they need to work more smartly on their communicated identity.

When going the process of “branding a country”, every one’s buy-in is required . Brand expressions accumulate, and lead to a one impression. A negative action by a taxi driver or a customs officer are enough to generate a totally bad experience for visitors, and same can be said about too smart international diplomat . That’s why communication comes third, branding second, and research and planning FIRST .

For Syria, the womb and hostess of 20 civilizations throughout history,  it seems that a great potential of this science is still to be discovered. Question is how a country like Syria can mange its brand image and personality to compete more effectively world wide ? How can we identify more creatively the targeted groups and reach them via creative and effective communications? And basically what is Syria’s Unique offer to the world perception’s map?

This briefing paper is spotting in a quick review what the world’s countries are doing with regard to promoting their images.

France :

Don’t ” Jetter le be’be’ avec l’eau du bain “

“France” is labeling the conscious and subconscious of the majority when thinking art, fashion, style and culture . In 18th century Mr. Benjamin Franklin said about France “The civilest nation upon earth.” In 2004 France launched its branding campaign “The new France. Where the smart money goes”. Mainstream publications as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Newsweek featured testimonials from companies CEOs like Sony, General Electric, and Siemens telling us why they went to France for operations’ expansions. Branding France is a clear example of how branding a country can be very diplomatic and pragmatic solution against political attacks such as the one by USA Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who advised in 2003 “Punish France, ignore Germany, and forgive Russia.”. and promote France to Japan, Europe, and America . In figures , giving us ( 7 ) reasons to invest in France. France: the 35-hour workweeks with the same productivity , R&D accounts for 7.8% of the GDP, and don’t forget that French universities are among the best in sciences, international and cultural affairs, and France’s health system, is the best one on Europe . 20 business chiefs helped articulate the campaign. And the results : jobs created in France by foreign companies in 2004 rose more than 8% over year 2003 to 29,578.

But you can only take one route in your branding trip, and you need to sacrifice voluntarily the other route just as Monsieur Chauvel words to his children “ choisir c’est renoncer “=” choose to sacrifice an option” . Obviously, France took the option to go the business rather than cultural route .BUT, French do still bank on their cultural very valuable identity asset and that’s why Miss.Tic’s street drawings, and the late “atelier culturel” hosted in l’Elysée last month are still so mandatory to France ID. Critical enough for French is to realize Not to “Jetter le be’be’ avec l’eau du bain “ = Don’t “throw the baby away with the bathroom water “ so when rebuilding their brand as an attractive business hub, French are taking so much care not to wash up their cultural and artistic characteristics . They are simply continue building on them and maybe the new ID. then is something similar to “Louis Vuitton” top models and Miss.Tic side to side .


Visual identity – Recruit best artists because they can appropriate the Sun.

When Spain decided to position itself on the world recognition map it commissioned one of its best artists ” Joan Miro” who created  an attractive, modernistic sun symbol and offered the world ‘Everything Under the Sun’ to visitors. Creativity is a must when branding a country . that’s why the nation’s best artist should be involved in the image communication process.

Johannesburg :

Chaging the brand name – Truth is hard but some one had to face it !

,and Johannesburg – south Africa government faced it . After interviewing 500 people about the city’s image, results showed that most people believed Johannesburg is a collection of tall buildings, and the city is seen as passage to Southern Africa but not as a destination .The “shocking” information was useful to give a clue where to start from. Refreshing the Country image was then the goal . Research revealed a strong potential for the  city’s slang name, ” Joburg “.The new image was presented in September 2002 through a totally vibrant and contemporary new logo .

Belgium :

Lack of coordination waste opportunities

Wallonia Francophonic Brussels, and Dutch Flanders. The scattered efforts are weakening the possibilities of establishing a clear Identity for Belgium .

Belgium as a divided state (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels ) is even more in need of a unified approach. And Belgium officials are still struggling to convince that Diversity should be well packaged in a clear customer offer .The risk of inconsistent messaging should be overcome through proper coordination and speaking with one voice.

Brand architecture is how each sub-brand should fit in with a “master brand.”


Will sub brands rescue the schizophrenic arrogant Mother brand ?

As anyone versed in Branding or International affairs can tell you” Brand USA is going into really terrible times” USA has been going into some schizophrenic branding for the past few years. A brand that is looking down to its audience definitely will alienate them .worse more is that when this brand is wearing two opposite hats at the same time then it is really in bad position . But away from main brand ( USA), how does (USA) sub brands act ?

In 1999, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau (LVCVB) commissioned a  communication agency to come up with a new image For L.V.  The agency did it ( what happens here , remain here ) a smart slogan that is smartly selling the city’s attributes. Some other cities did their branding homework earlier like “Texas: It’s like a whole other country”, New York “I NY”, and “Virginia is for lovers”. But the lazy ones who didn’t took enough branding effort themselves, allowed the public to position them badly . Baltimore is an example, where it has been labeled among other labels as the “heroin/murder capital”

Continue . . .



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