Nation Branding Lab


World’s 50 Most Innovative Countries

south korea

South Korea surprised many by being ranked at the second in the Global Innovation Index
(Image Courtesy of Bloomberg | Photograph by Getty Images)

Bloomberg Businessweek published an index of 50 Most Innovative Countries in the world. The Bloomberg ranked these countries using 7 factors: R&D intensity (20 percent), productivity (20 percent), high-tech density (20 percent), researcher concentration (20 percent), manufacturing capability (10 percent), education levels (5 percent) and patent activity (5 percent).

The top 10 countries on Bloomberg Businessweek’s Global Innovation Index are 1. United States  2. South Korea  3. Germany  4. Finland  5. Sweden  6. Japan  7. Singapore  8. Austria  9. Denmark  10. France.

UK Considers “Don’t Come to UK” Campaign

London Sorry! poster

Image courtesy of The Guardian

It has been reported that UK government has a tentative plan to launch a negative advertising campaign to keep away immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania. Immigrants from these two countries to UK are expected to skyrocket after the labor market restrictions are lifted in 2014, and UK hopes to, according to one minister, “correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold”. The campaign will focus on the downsides of life in UK, delivering the message, ‘Please don’t come here.”

Ironically, London is not only the home of many prominent nation branding consultants with government clients across the world, but also the stage for 2012 Summer Olympics, where UK government spent billions of pounds to improve the country’s reputation.

It’s hard to draw conclusions at this moment, but there is a clear possibility that the tactic may be counterproductive to UK’s brand. The campaign might endanger Britain’s image if it reaches countries other than Romania and Bulgaria. Also, it could even encourage more migrants to come since the campaign’s intention (concealing how great living in UK is) has already been revealed. Moreover, it will show the world that UK government failed to work with Romanian, Bulgarian, and EU counterparts to address their problem using honest, legal measures.

While specifics regarding the advertising are not revealed, The Drum, a marketing and media blog, called for entries for “Britain is Shit” Competition in response to the idea.

Brand Romania

Romania is on par with Australia, New Zealand, and Maldives when it comes to ‘natural beauty’. Countries like this have an edge in tourism marketing because they are already strongly associated with impressive images that tourists admire. Despite this huge advantage, however, Romania’s brand has failed in 2012 both in terms of visual and political communication.

Political corruption and crisis

In 2012, Romania’s international reputation suffered due to President’s impeachment followed by the government’s abuse of power and attempts to subvert the country’s nascent democracy. Moreover, the Prime Minister’s sentence for corruption and his failed suicide attempt contributed to the political instability, which even left neighboring European nations concerned and question whether Romania is going to be the next Hungary.


Image courtesy of The Economist: Romania’s former prime minister underwent a surgery after a failed suicide attempt

Logo and tagline

Romania’s Ministry of Tourism had decided to go green since a few years ago, and they are still using the same logo until now. Unfortunately, the logo doesn’t give any hint that Romania is a country of high mountains, Dracula or beautiful castles, but of a jungle or lush landscape. The logo looks like it must have been a logo of Madagascar, Bahamas, or Fiji. Moreover, reading the tagline, “explore the Carpathian garden”, I wonder what other way there could have benn to make the Carpathian Mountains sound so far from wild, exotic, historical, and scenic. With these logo and tagline, tourists can never envision Romania’s rich culture and impressive vistas.


Image courtesy of the Romanian National Tourist Office website

To me, a new logo seems to be a necessity, but this is not what Romania needs to focus on at the moment. Instead, what it needs to do first is to show the world that it has the capability to generate a dialogue between the government and its people, making healthy policy changes that uphold meaningful values such as democracy. Through the rule of law, Romania must reflect the nation’s concern for the individual rights, principle of justice, tolerance for positive changes, and political stability, which is time-consuming and difficult. However, this symbolic and transparent gesture is the only shortcut that will help Romania succeed in communicating with the world audience what the nation and its people are all about and in successfully branding itself in the long-term.

Wally Olins on Spain’s Nation Brand

Branding guru Wally Olins, Chairman and Co-founder of Saffron Brand Consultants, talks about Spain’s nation brand and nation branding in a globalized world at IE School of Communication.

Olins discusses Spain’s international brand identity as the nation is currently known for its economic difficulty. Overall, he is very optimistic about the prospects of Spain’s nation brand.  According to Olins, considering Spain’s significant achievements in the past, personality, and a clear sense of direction as a nation, Spain’s situation is not as disastrous as many people think.

I second his optimistic view. When a person goes through an economic difficulty mostly due to any uncontrollable factor, it is not the trouble that affects people’s perceptions of that person in a profound way, but how the person responds to the crisis. Same goes with nations. It is the government’s, citizens’, and corporations’ actions during the struggle that are presented to the world. Take South Korea for example. When the nation faced IMF financial crisis back in 1998, there was a public campaign where numerous Koreans sacrificed their gold, including housewives who gave up  wedding rings, and athletes, gold medals. In the first two days of the campaign, ten tons of gold were collected. Now, Koreans are known for their spirit of self-sacrifice and strong willingness to work together to face difficulties. South Korea has become a model nation for many countries during the global recession.

As demonstrated by many of Spain’s achievements that made the nation an admired, influential figure in many different fields over the past couple of decades, Spain is a passionate nation. It will take some time, but there is no reason why Spain will not be able to recover from the crisis. I would even say that Spain will eventually be able to add persistence and trustworthiness to their identity in the near future.

Place Management and Branding Conference in Manchester

Place Management and Branding Conference will be held in Manchester, UK on 14th and 15th February 2013. Organized by Manchester Metropolitan University, Institute of Place Management, and INPOLIS (Integrated Services for urban development, local economy, place management and branding), the conference will discuss the application of business principles to place.

Potential themes at the conference are

  • Critical perspectives on place management and branding
  • Place competition, co-operation and co-opetition
  • Digital place marketing
  • Place leadership and governance
  • Community involvement and ‘grassroot’ movements
  • Social media and place
  • Place identity and attachment
  • Managing place decline
  • Town centre management and Business Improvement Districts
  • Retail change and the impact on the high street

Book Your Spot Now

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