Countries as brands


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This paper looks at how countries can be considered as brands. It was presented at the British Council, Tokyo in 2006.

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Countries as brands

  1. 1. Countries as Brands:Values, History and Strategies. <br />Dr Marcus Leaning<br />University of Winchester<br />Paper presented at the British Council, Tokyo.<br />2006<br />Marcus Leaning<br />
  2. 2. In this lecture I want to examine three areas:<br />the way in which we may consider countries as brands<br />the history of countries as brands<br />the mechanisms and strategies of country branding<br />Introduction<br />Marcus Leaning<br />
  3. 3. Exciting, vivacious, party.<br />Traditional, polite, reserved.<br />Easygoing, friendly, independent.<br />Technological, strict, hardworking. <br />Mix and Match<br />UK<br />Thailand<br />Singapore<br />Brazil<br />
  4. 4. When we think of events, objects and people outside of our immediate experience we tend to use general ideas about those events, objects and people. <br />We use general perceptions to tell us about and to help us make sense of the world.<br />We term these perceptions ‘stereotypes’. <br />The idea of countries as brands<br />
  5. 5. When we think of a country we make use of stereotypes.<br />There are common perceptions of countries in much contemporary culture.<br />These are shared across the world - they are ‘Global’ perceptions.<br />These perceptions are understood to constitute a country’s brand.<br />Countries are thought to be brands.<br />From stereotypes to brands<br />
  6. 6. There are problems in this rather simple interpretation.<br />While in theory brands do the same things for both products and countries - identify, develop and communicate particular aspects to a desired audience – in reality countries and products are different.<br />The image of Russia is practically and psychologically different from Coca-Cola<br />These differences occur in a number of forms.<br />Problems with this idea<br />
  7. 7. Countries are composed of multiple, and often competing, stakeholders.<br />Not all the participants in a country want to be regarded in the same way.<br /><ul><li>They may have differing interests and perceptions.
  8. 8. “Liechtenstein as the ideal conference venue”
  9. 9. Population objected to the brand.</li></ul>1. Multiple stakeholders<br />
  10. 10. Countries ‘suffer’ from fixed assets or natural resources.<br />They cannot really launch a new product line very easily.<br />Some countries are either very cold or very hot, they have mountains or beaches.<br />Short of invading another country there is not much they can do.<br />2. Fixed assets <br />
  11. 11. Countries have histories.<br />With the exception of revolutions and wars “New Iraq”, they are not usually ‘new to market’ or launched.<br />Similarly they cannot be ‘pulled’ and re-launched if unsuccessful.<br />3. History<br />
  12. 12. Leaders change with considerable frequency in many countries.<br />Political leaders with often have a limited life and will want quick results and may not work best to long term goals.<br />Moreover, goals and vision change and leads to problems with brand maintenance. <br />4. Leadership<br />
  13. 13. While the end goal of many attempts to establish a better brand for a country is often economic:<br /> Inward investment<br /> Tourism<br /> Exports<br />The means to achieve a better country brand are different to traditional product branding.<br />More on this idea later.<br />5. Countries are not just products<br />
  14. 14. Country and product branding is considerably different. <br />Possibly due to two factors:<br />The difference in nature of products and countries.<br />The emergence of country brands not within the economic sphere but within the political one. Related very much to the history of country brands. <br />Countries and products are different<br />
  15. 15. The history of countries as brands is deeply tied to changes in political communication and international relations.<br />Historically the fates of countries and nations have been decided by leaders meeting (often in secret), making decisions which were then presented to those affected. <br />Indeed for many in the less developed world (particularly those without democratic political systems) this is still the case.<br />Country brand history<br />
  16. 16. 1884 Otto von-Bismark, the German Chancellor, called together representatives and leaders of:<br />United States of America, Austria–Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden–Norway, Ottoman Empire<br />They then divided much of central Africa between them.<br />Only then did they decide to tell the people of Africa.<br />Example 1:Berlin Conference<br />
  17. 17. Towards the end of WWII Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met in secret in Yalta and decided the fate of the defeated powers and occupied countries.<br />After the war finished these decisions were enforced. <br />Example 2:Yalta<br />
  18. 18. Often understood to have really started after WW2.<br />It concerns the willingness of governments to represent themselves to foreign publics as well as to foreign governments.<br />The emergence of ‘Public Diplomacy’<br />
  19. 19. The emergence of public diplomacy was strongly tied to two ‘trends’:<br />The spread of democracy as a form of government.<br />The evolution and spread of mass media<br />Why it happened<br />
  20. 20. Changes in global political systems – colonial empires perceived as bad method of development.<br />Colonial empires in decline, independence movements the eventual end of Cold war meant that democracy became more widespread.<br />The spread of democracy as a form of government.<br />
  21. 21. The post WW2 period has seen a massive increase in the form and volume of mass media. <br />More recently there has been the emergence of new forms of communication technologies.<br />These both contribute to the increased international scrutiny of political and diplomatic activity.<br />The evolution and spread of mass media<br />
  22. 22. The idea (if not the reality) is that diplomatic decisions no longer take place behind closed doors.<br />Numbers of ‘summits’ where decisions are reached on topics – climate change, information society, trade.<br />Invite stakeholders to be involved.<br />Lots of arguments that they not really listening.<br />But it is more than before.<br />Public diplomacy <br />
  23. 23. Countries become very concerned with their global political face.<br />This influences how they are perceived and treated.<br />Furthermore it influences and is influenced by economic factors.<br />This is where the distinction occurs between products and countries.<br />Countries have a political as well as commercial aspect to them.<br />Political brands<br />
  24. 24. There is a political side to the branding process, something that is usually missing in product branding.<br />Acknowledging this is imperative to understanding how country brands operate.<br />Country brands interpretation<br />
  25. 25. A country’s brand makes an important difference to a its fortunes and countries go to considerable lengths to shape their brand image.<br />This is particularly evident in wealthy democratic societies - developing and especially underdeveloped countries have relatively little power to shape their brand. <br />For example, many African nations have bad brand images.<br />The perceptions of a country are its ‘Brand’<br />
  26. 26. Simon Anholt, possibly the leading expert on the subject, argues that countries will go to considerable lengths to manipulate their brand.<br />The reason certain countries can shape their brand and not others, is due to the resources, techniques and strategies used to develop a brand.<br />The differences in human and financial capital between wealthy and poor countries means that the ability to shape a brand is more available to some countries than others.<br />How brands are shaped and maintained.<br />
  27. 27. The following is an adaptation of a model of place branding by Sicco van Gelder and Malcolm Allan, two key branding experts who run the company ‘Place Brands’.<br />It is argued that there are a number of distinct avenues or methods through which a country can develop its branding. <br />Place Brands<br />
  28. 28. Two areas to consider:<br />Engagement and action in world political issues - Joining wars, send troops, sending aid, remaining neutral etc all have repercussions.<br />The actions of political leaders in both the foreign and domestic spheres is vitally important. Not only do large political decisions receive lots of attention but small actions by leaders can have considerable influence abroad. Trifling sleights can be exaggerated by an antagonistic foreign press to huge insults.<br />Foreign and domestic policy- state and leaders’ actions<br />
  29. 29. Export brands (EBs) present a major commercial opportunity to deploy a ‘positional statement’ in relation to similar brands and can strongly define values.<br />They are also one of the main immediate areas of benefit of a strong brand.<br />However the commercial nature of brands means they are notoriously hard to control.<br />Export brands– commercial face on the world<br />
  30. 30. Not necessarily the same thing.<br />They are both indicators of financial health but also of perceptions of:<br /> liberty<br /> safety<br /> lawfulness<br /> lifestyle <br /> positive associations<br />Investment and Immigration– would you want to live or work here?<br />
  31. 31. Another area that can reap major short term benefits.<br />It is possibly the most visible aspect of a country brand and one of the most long lasting in consumer perceptions.<br />However, it is very difficult to ensure a definitively positive experience. <br />Also hard to encourage if perceptions are bad.<br />Tourism– the experience ‘in country’<br />
  32. 32. Countries with largely negative diasporas suffer in this way.<br />If the main way a country is known is through dissidents, refuges and outspoken political prisoners and exiles the brand will be badly damaged. <br />Similarly unruly tourists present a problem.<br />People– in what capacity are people encountered?<br />
  33. 33. Sporting prowess allow for aspirations.<br />The quest to ‘be like’ is very strong in sports.<br />Also being a ‘host’ brings in lots of trade – Australian has benefited hugely from the Olympics.<br />Sports– sports stars make good global heroes<br />
  34. 34. Subject to whims of fashion and history.<br />Some cultures benefit from mature, often 2nd and 3rd generation expatriate communities. E.G Ireland.<br />Others present globally interesting ‘otherness’ to be consumed.<br />Culture and heritagenot just economics - culture is important<br />
  35. 35. A strong intellectual presence and tradition offers distinct brand and financial benefits.<br />Noble prize winners, famous scientists, artists and scholars work well to attract lucrative international students and intellectual capital.<br />Investment in this area takes a long time to show dividends however.<br />Education– Noble prize winners and academic leadership<br />
  36. 36. Countries as brands present an interesting and very challenging area of work and study.<br />They present a cross over between traditional marketing activity and political analysis.<br />A huge area of growth.<br />Conclusion<br />
  37. 37. Contact details:<br /><br />Any Questions?<br />Marcus Leaning<br />