November 21, 2009 at 9:17 am Leave a comment

Espana, Australia, Belfast

This whole branding business can sometimes surprise from seemingly all directions. Everyone can find something to like.

The market-touting worldview (let’s just call it that) gets a boost here: a national market will always inevitably produce national brands; they have an ingrained incentive to create effective, inclusive brand myths that in turn help the political system prop up that most elusive strategic resource – national identity.  In other words, there you go; if you let people trade you not only get innovation, scale, prosperity… It also makes people get along.

But there comes the opportunity to confuse ourselves further. That national identity, the collective brand, does act and gets treated like a brand elsewhere. People put value on it; it goes up, it goes down. Some national identities manage to pull off extreme makeovers with many told and untold concrete social and business benefits. It’s often then revealed that the job was premeditated and that professionals were involved.

In fact, it’s hard to find any international brands that don’t come from strongly-branded countries: brand-neutral countries like Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Chile, or Norway have produced remarkably few international market leaders.

This, this and this has that pendelum effect: this time it is competent government that’s being called upon. That other elusive strategic resource – a model government manager. If we are a brand, we need brand managers. No?

Someone who helps political managers manage national identity is Simon Anholt, the brain behind one of those gloriously specilized journals that deals with a subject for which most people feel to have enough knowledge about to justify strong opinions. Not your Journal of Hematology; more like Place Branding and Public Diplomacy. It’s always interesting to see how folks react to this kind of topic taken this seriously.

If you listen to professionals, the good story will at some point turn to the beginnings of this new nation brand consciousness. It’s a Mediterrenean success story whose replications are chased to date.

Two decades ago, Joan Miro designed a splashy, sunny national emblem to promote tourism. … Thanks in part to the Espana logo, Spain is no longer associated just with Franco, the Spanish Civil War and Don Quixote. It is a country of wine (Rioja), movies (Pedro Almodovar) and art (Miro).

It’s a long story from here. But it will be interesting. You may continue here, here, and even here.

Entry filed under: collective branding. Tags: , , , , , , , .


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